By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advocate that kids go back to school, and those guidelines for in-person learning stress that masks are a must.

But to be safe, the CDC also says cloth face coverings need to be washed every single day. Morning Insider Lauren Victory looks into the time, cost and energy of keeping your family protected.

It seems easy, just toss a face mask in with the rest of the laundry and get a gold star for fighting COVID-19. Except this chore needs to be repeated every time a cloth face covering is worn, the CDC says. So, if kids go to schoo,l the washing machine will have to run a lot.

What if people don’t have time to clean them every day? We called Jagdish Khubchandani from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., to explain the options.

Earlier in the pandemic, the health science professor explained the science of soap to CBS 2 and also detailed how to properly make hand sanitizer. 

“All of us touch our face at least 1,000 times a day on average and by default, we also touch our mask,” said Khubchandani.

He prefers schoolkids don’t wear cloth face coverings.

“They get dirty sooner because they’re not water-resistant fabric. They don’t have multiple layers.”

Surgical masks are better, he says – and will save you from doing laundry.

But being disposable doesn’t exactly save money.

For example, CBS 2 studied bills from Chicago Public Schools.  In April, CPS spent 69 cents a piece on surgical masks. In June, the district ordered $2 re-usable masks, which added up to $2.4 million.

It may sound expensive but consider that three cloth face coverings will be given to each CPS student and staff member.  The $6 investment is equivalent to the cost of eight surgical masks, which should be trashed once dirty.

Not every school district is passing out face covering like CPS. However, a free one will be coming from the state, which says 2.5 million cloth masks will be provided to every public school student and staff member.

Enough of the numbers, let’s get back to cleaning.

“You can use dish soap, detergent, just plain hot water a long time,” Khubchandani said.

Parents need to make sure kids have spare masks that are clean, too

“One on the face, one in backpack, one in the car,” said Khubchandani.

Lauren Victory