Let’s talk about how to keep track of and organize your family’s many cloth face masks so you always have a clean mask when you need it, even if organizing doesn’t come easy for you.
I get it. Current reality can be tough. That makes it super tempting to pretend face masks are just a temporary blip. So why bother coming up with a tracking, organization, and storage method for these “temporary” face masks when we have so many other things to worry about right now?
Why Do I Need to Organize My Family’s Face Masks?
- Remembering your face masks when you leave the house (or even when you leave the car),
- Keeping track of which masks are clean or dirty, and
- Finding your kids’ face masks (or your own)
…is driving you a little Corona-crazy, then getting your face mask organization game under control will level up your sanity.
Because even if it’s only for the next six months, storing your family’s cloth and single-use face masks in an organized way will keep you and those people you love safe without making you lose your mind.
After all, laundry and mornings are both already sticking points for most of us, and dealing with face masks just slipped an extra step into both processes. Ignoring that extra step can make every day of the next six months feel like the groundhog’s day of mask hassles if you don’t have a system.
Plus things are crazy enough right now, right? Why not figure out how to keep track of and organize face masks in a way that makes sense for your family? Having an organized system for storing, rotating, and laundering face masks can automate the process and get it off your mind.
You have better things to keep in that echo chamber between your ears.
And if you’re organizing and storing your face masks to protect against Coronavirus/COVID-19, then don’t you want to make sure they’re actually providing that protection? Those smart people at the CDC actually want us to wash and be careful with our Corona-masks. So let’s try, okay?
How to Keep Track of and Organize Your Family’s Face Masks
Always Have a Fresh Face Mask Handy When You Need One
So, first off, how can we make sure that when you’re out and about exposing yourself to all those other possibly COVID-y people (or your possibly-COVID-y-self to COVID-free people – you never know), you actually have a mask over that pretty little nose of yours?
Because for me, at least, even though my mind should already have a grip on the reality of face masks, I still have a habit of getting all the way to the store entrance before I remember to bring a mask.
Now, I could use this as an opportunity to get a few extra Fitbit steps walking back to my car to retrieve a mask.
Store Extra Disposable Paper Face Masks In Your Purse, Car, and Kids’ Backpacks
I prefer to have a backup mask handy. To preserve my extra body fat and avoid unnecessary cardio, I keep an extra disposable mask in a baggie in my purse. Then when I forget my fashion-forward Snoopy mask (Woodstock, am I right?), I have a generic paper face mask on hand.
They’re single-use so I guess I’m supposed to toss them every time.
Let’s play pretend and say I do.**
To keep my supply of paper face masks handy, I have a stash of them in the car to restock my purse, as necessary.
A bag of extra disposable face masks in your glove box can save your butt. Because, if you’re like me, even remembering to grab a face mask when you leave the house in the first place can be a crapshoot.
And an extra mask in your kids’ backpack can save a trip to the school.
Random face mask caches are an ADHD girl’s best friend.
So stow a few extras in all the bags that leave the house (assuming we remember the bags but that’s a lesson for another time). And teach the young’uns to use the baggie to keep their masks separated and to fold them so the inside doesn’t touch the outside.
Use a Sanitizing Station to Keep Face Masks Organized at Home
So that solves the face-mask-forgetting problems.
But let’s assume forgetting to take masks with you when you leave the house isn’t your only problem.
I mean, I’m already sure it’s not your only problem, but I’m talking about face mask dilemmas.
One issue most of us have, especially with kids involved, is making sure we have a clean face mask when we need one. Because we can’t take a face mask with us if we can’t find a face mask in the first place.
A station in or right outside the entryway gives everyone a clear, designated place to dump dirty face masks and pick up clean ones.
You can accomplish this in many ways.
For example – I have a pretty simple, very un-Pinteresty sanitizing station I made from stuff I already had. And luckily, mine is in the garage so no need for it to match any decorations or look super cute.
But I’ve seen some cool ones online and Etsy has some really cute ones. I’ll link them at the end of this post so you can check them out.
Some of my links to Amazon products and other products such as the ones I just mentioned from Etsy might be affiliate links, which means they pay me a commission to link to their site. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and may help my blog break even one day (it could happen).
Keep Dirty Face Masks Separate from Clean Ones
More important than the Pinterest-y-ness of your face mask organizing and sanitizing station is a bin to collect the dirty masks to keep the laundry part of the system organized. And to keep dirty masks away from clean ones.
Some people use mesh bags for this, which is a great idea. Those are people who have careful (or at least obedient) kids who’ll take the extra time to open the bag and put the mask in it.
But even an open bag would probably require two hands, and I can’t expect miracles from my family. They’ll just “pretend” their mask is clean or throw it near (but not in) the holder. So we’re just using an open-top empty plastic bin.
An open-top bin for dirty face masks works better for “less motivated” families such as mine, so we can just toss the masks in.
And plastic makes it easier to clean.
Also in my mind the Corona germs try to climb up the shiny smooth sides and slip back down. I don’t really think that’s how it works, but a little Corona mountain climber with tiny, useless crampons is fun to think about.
Die, little mountain climber, die.
After I unload the dirty mask bin into the washer, I Clorox wipe the inside or spray it with disinfectant. If you don’t have either of those supplies, washing with hot water and soap works, too.
I know you’re thinking “why is everyone so afraid of touching the outside of masks? They’re not like a lint trap that collects all the germs.”
However, you did just take that mask everywhere you socialized or shopped around people. And while I assume you also probably took your other clothing around those same people, more than likely your cute, flowered mask is the part of your ensemble that’s closest to other people’s mouths (gross).
So taking more care with the mask then you would with say, your coat or socks, is probably a good idea.
However, as a side note, I also believe in Lysol-ing the bottom of our shoes before they enter the house.
Think about it – all those miniscule saliva droplets flying out of the mouths of the great unmasked*** and falling all over the floor at Walmart, then hitching a ride on your Reeboks right on into your (hopefully) COVID-free family zone.
Hang Clean Face Masks on Hooks Near Your Entrance
Okay, enough about the nasties on the used masks. Now for the clean face masks.
We have four hooks, one for each person. I hang the clean ones there. I used Command hooks on our Ikea organizing Kallax.
If you don’t have a cabinet or other place on which to directly add hooks, you can hang a repurposed key holder or set of coat hooks on a nearby wall.
This one would work really well because it has a place for extra paper masks and hand sanitizer at the top.
Or Use a Stand-Alone Organizer to Hold Assorted Face Masks
If all you’re working with is a table, then try
- A letter sorter to keep your family’s masks separated. Check out this adorable one on Amazon.
- A standing necklace holder to organize the family masks. This one has a little tray for hand sanitizer or paper masks.
- Or just a bin, basket, or bowl of random assorted masks.
Keep Your Mask Station Easy to Use and Easy to Reach for Kids
Just keep everything easy to reach for kids if you want them to actually use them. The easier the mask organizing station is to use, the more likely it won’t become yet another useless attempt at over-organizing and will solve this mask problem once and for all.
Remember To Wash, Dry, and Return Your Face Masks to the Organizer
And add a note to yourself somewhere to actually empty and wash the dirty mask bin. At least at first until you get used to emptying, washing, drying, and returning the masks regularly.
Speaking of drying, some people recommend a drying station. I’ve been drying ours in the dryer, but I’m pretty sure hanging them up on the mask hanger on your mask organizer will also allow them to dry.
If you want to air-dry them away from your mask organizing area, I saw a tip to clip clothespins on a hanger and dry them in the laundry room or outside. This would also be a good way to store them if you didn’t have a lot of “face masks organizing station” options.
However, again, that would require two hands for my family to remove a mask – and that’s one hand too many.
Set Up a Reminder So Your Family Remembers To Keep Their Face Masks Clean and Organized
Once you’ve got your masks organized, help your family out by posting a sign. They’re probably not as eager to jump on another of your organizing bandwagons as you are.
Another suggestion is to label clean and dirty masks and/or label the individual hooks by person’s name. I don’t need to do either of those – my kids are older so, in theory at least, they should be able to remember where the dirty masks go.
Although, in theory, by this point I should be remembering to wear a mask when I get out of my car, so take that with a grain of Himalayan sea salt.
The Great Mask Organizing Recap
We don’t know how long the mask thing is going to be our normal.
Could be three months, could be six months, might even be a lot longer.
With all the things you have to think about right now, having control over one, small annoying part of this whole pandemic thing takes one thing off your plate.
So think about ways to track and organize the face masks your family needs to wear right now. Even if you don’t believe in them, they’re a part of life and, at least in my state, mandatory to go into any public place.
And, as long as you’re using them anyway, you may as well keep them clean and organized so you get whatever benefit they may offer.
To have a fresh face mask handy when you need one, keep stashes of paper masks in any container that’s leaving the house with you in case you forget your cloth mask. This can include your purse, wallet, backpack, work bag, lunch box, and that biggest junk container of all – your car.
At home, put a mask organizing station to work to organize your family’s masks by person and to keep clean and dirty masks separate. Hooks work great for the clean ones, or if that’s not practical, any container will do.
For the dirty masks, keep an easy-to-use-so-they’ll-actually-use-it container that’s also easy for you to maintain (empty, wipe, put back). Because even though it might sound like I’m complaining about my family’s laziness, in reality I also need easy-to-use systems or I’m not doing it, either.
Make it simple to remember to rotate the masks using post-it notes in your laundry room, an alarm, or a note in your planner.
If you have trouble remembering to do things, check out this post I wrote about how to keep track of everything you think of without getting distracted.
And use a reminder note at the mask organizing center itself so your kids know what to do.
If you like the little sign I made and framed with a Dollar Tree frame, feel free to print it out here. I even made it sound nice and loving (mostly since “Mom loves you because it’s in her contract” didn’t fit the 5×7 frame).
One More Note About Masks
Let’s end this on a positive note about masks.
You may hate them, but can we all agree that they do have their own special awesomeness?
With the bottom half of your face covered, you don’t have to worry about:
- Bad breath
- Broccoli in your teeth
- Stray chin hairs
- Blackheads on your nose
- Loose jowls
- Your double chin
- Or that nasty thing you get every winter on the side of your upper lip
Plus if you need some extra cash this Christmas, nobody’s gonna know you’re holding up the liquor store until you’re halfway done.
See? There’s a silver lining to every mask.****
How Do You Organize Your Family’s Face Masks?
Leave a comment below and let me know how you’re managing your family’s mask situation. I’d love more ideas. And if you find your masks extra useful for camouflaging even more stuff on your face, let me know!
*Have you met me?
** Some might say that the mask doesn’t really know if you used it for an hour at Walmart or 8 hours working in an office, right? So it’s possible I only replace mine every few times. I’m not telling you to do this. You be you, I’ll be me.
***Not getting into a mask vs. anti-mask discussion here – just saying there are some of us who don’t or can’t wear a mask for some reason and may or may not have Corona-spit
****Unless it’s my husband’s Nightmare Before Christmas mask – that has a Minions lining instead.
Other cloth face mask Organization and storage ideas
Looking for more ideas? Check out these ready-made cute organizers on Etsy and elsewhere.