Sanitizing Masks for Sniffle Season

Children who go to school or child care wear face masks. This helps to keep them safe, but it can also create challenges. How can you keep kids’ masks clean and comfortable, even in allergy or cold seasons?

Have plenty of masks

Have several masks for your kids so they will have a mask to wear while others are in the laundry, and to replace a mask that gets dirty during the day. Your child’s school or daycare facility may specify the number needed. If not, try three to six. The exact number you need will depend on your child and your laundry routine.

You might have accessories to go with your kids’ face coverings. Here are some that parents like:

  • Use a pacifier clip to attach the mask to your child’s shirt. That way, if they drop the mask, they won’t lose it and it won’t fall on the ground. This also lets kids store the mask safely while eating.
  • You can use breakaway lanyards to help kids keep track of their masks without worrying about choking.
  • Many parents choose plastic extenders that clip to the mask at the edges and go around the head. This is more comfortable for some kids than the loops over the ears.
  • There are also plastic inserts that keep the mask away from the child’s face. Some kids find that this makes it easier to talk or breathe while wearing the mask, and it may feel more comfortable.

Wash masks with your regular laundry

The CDC recommends washing face masks after every use. Toss them into the laundry and wash them along with your clothes. Use laundry detergent and dry them in the dryer — they should not require any special care. The hot dryer helps kill bacteria. 

If you need to wash kids’ masks between regular laundry washes, you can wash them by hand. Use hot soapy water and allow the mask to soak 3-5 minutes. Some parents toss masks in a stand mixer with hot soapy water and let the paddle agitate the masks for a few minutes. 

Either way, rinse the mask thoroughly and let it dry completely before the next use. You can dry the mask in a dryer, or hang it to dry. If you’re letting your mask air dry, try to put it in the sun. 


Children under the age of two should not wear masks.

Help kids remember to avoid touching their masks or their faces. Take masks off using the loops or ties, fold them in half with the outside in, and drop them in the hamper. Then wash hands before touching your face. Kids can learn this routine but may need reminders to make it a habit. Provide a good example by doing this yourself.

Recent research from Duke University shows that schools are not at high risk for spreading COVID-19 when they require face masks and other recommended safety measures.