How Clean Is Your Face Mask? Inside Edition Sent in 5 Swabs for Testing to Find Out.

Inside Edition’s swab test investigation found high levels of bacteria present on several New Yorkers’ face masks.

Like many New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan Magee never leaves home without a face mask. But when she gets home and takes it off, she often throws it on a hook and forgets about it until she goes back out again.

“I put it on and think, huh, I should have washed this but haven’t done it yet,” Magee told Inside Edition.

When they’re not wearing masks, Adriana Spencer and her boyfriend Harris will put them in a pocket or purse.

“I'm concerned about the cleanliness of it,” Adriana told Inside Edition.

The different mask routines are calling into question how clean the masks you wear every day are, especially the ones that you keep reusing. To find out, Inside Edition’s Investigative Unit swabbed the inside and outside of the masks and sent them to the lab for testing.

The good news—there was no coronavirus on the masks. But the bad news—Magee’s mask had a bacteria count of 680 million, including one that can cause nasty skin infections and also lead to pneumonia. A normal count would be about 10,000.

“Oh, god, no, I don't like that at all, that's really scary,” Magee said.

On Harris’s mask, there was a bacteria count of 66 million. Adriana’s had 270 million.

The Centers for Disease Control advises that cloth masks should be washed daily with your regular laundry and dried on a warm or hot setting. They also say to throw out disposable masks after wearing them once. Masks should be stored in a plastic or paper bag—especially if they’re wet from exercise or makeup.