This Is The Best Way To Store Your Face Mask

As of March 2021, it's officially been a whole year since the World Health Organization first declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic — and there's no doubt that much of our lives have changed since then (via The Washington Post). Besides terms like "social distancing" and "quarantine" becoming a major part of our daily lexicon, we've all also become familiar with something that's now a very much normal part of our lives: wearing a face mask.

By now, putting on a mask before you leave the house is probably an automatic reflex, much like checking for your keys, wallet, and phone. We've all become experts at how to properly wear them, wash them, and dispose of them — but what about when you're not wearing them? 

When it comes to keeping your reusable masks clean and hygienic, knowing how to properly store them is important —especially since it's likely that we'll need to continue wearing face masks into 2022, according to infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci (via CNN). If you're wondering what you should do with your face masks when you're not wearing them, here's how to store them properly in between uses.

Storing your masks in a breathable bag keeps them clean

According to the CDC, the best way to store masks that you're planning to reuse is to place them in a "dry, breathable bag," like a paper bag or mesh fabric bag. This helps ensure that the masks will not be exposed to contaminants, according to Ashley Roxanne, a resident physician in Atlanta, GA (via Best Life).

"The best material to store your mask in is something that most people can easily buy and find: a paper lunch bag," she told the outlet. "Paper bags are more breathable than most other containers, which makes them a less favorable environment for microbes."

On the other hand, it's best to avoid storing masks in a plastic bag, which can actually trap in moisture and thus "promote the growth of germs and bacteria" on or within the mask (via USA Today). "[Plastic bags are] less porous and lock in any infectious material without clean, new air moving into or out of the bag," Roxanne explained to Best Life.

If you're taking off your mask to eat or drink, the CDC says that it's also safe to place it temporarily in your pocket or purse. No matter where you're storing it, though, you should always make sure to wash orsanitize your hands after removing your mask and after putting your mask back on. Additionally, you should remember to wash your masks regularly — whenever they get dirty or at least daily, according to CDC guidelines.