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How to properly clean your teenager’s face mask?

Will your kids keep their face coverings clean when they return to school this week?


As our kids get back into the swing of school (and in my house we breathe a sigh of collective relief) the normal rush to pack the PE bag and track down their tie has been complicated by the need to provide appropriate face coverings.

The Law?

In Scotland and Northern Ireland secondary school pupils must wear face coverings when moving between lessons and in England whether they should or not is ‘discretionary’ depending on the headteacher’s ruling. Some schools have gone full PPE others remain barefaced.

In many indoor spaces though, banks, shops, café’s and on school transport your teen will now be wearing a face covering. Face coverings are here to stay for our teens.

But here is the problem…

Teenagers can be kind of gross. Although they spend hours in the bathroom, laundry isn’t always high on their agenda and it is important to remember that the face coverings our kids are using are not astronaut-style self-contained breathing systems (SCBA), or the gold standard N95 masks we are reserving for the medical profession. At best most of our kids are wearing three layers of cloth which, if poorly cared for, get damp and dirty. Ideal breeding ground for all sorts of nasties. A contributor recently extracted her daughter’s mask from the bottom of her bag to discover it was caked in foundation and unwashed for weeks.

Masks only work if worn well.

So how should we be encouraging teens to look after their masks and as a result themselves and others?

  • It is worth repeating that you need to wear a face covering that fully covers your nose, mouth & chin. Chin straps don’t stop the splutter, having it in your hand doesn’t help.
  • If your child is using reusable face covering then label them well, your child’s unique Spiderman design might not look so unique in a class of thirty!
  • Masks are only one part of the game, keep talking to your kids about maintaining physical distance and keeping away from big crowds.
  • Clean your hands before putting on or taking off your mask. Washing your hands well with soap and water gets rid of a lot of nasty bugs. So avoid a bout of D&V and dodge the Coronavirus in one move.
  • Reusable masks should be washed at the end of every day, they can just go in with a normal load of washing!
  • Reusable Masks, when not being worn, should be kept in a breathable, ideally paper bag (which you replace frequently)
  • After being worn, disposable masks should be thrown away every time – don’t forget to cut the straps to stop birds feet getting trapped!
  • Masks should only be touched by the strings and stop touching them while they are on your face. Mask should be filtering (at some level) the air you breathe so Coronavirus particles could be stuck to the front.

Tell your kids about Maskne

If you are struggling to have your teens take your advice you can always threaten them with the possibility of Maskne, acne round the nose and mouth caused by wearing grubby face masks… that should make their ears prick up. Good luck and share your own tips or success stories with us at

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