The masks are rumored to shrink in the wash…so we had to test it out, of course.

With there still being a major shortage of masks in Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has been sending out two reusable masks per household as a form of support for its citizens. Though it has been widely criticized, the initiative was most likely a big help for many who haven’t been able to get their hands on masks since the pandemic broke out.

Our own Japanese language reporter Go Hattori received his recently, and was excited to have them to wear around the neighborhood. He was most intrigued by the fact that they are washable and reusable, but he wondered how they would really hold up. They’re made of gauze, after all, so wouldn’t they shrink in the washing machine?

Of course, he had to test it out, so after wearing one for a day he put it in a small laundry net and dropped it into the washer, to wait for a load to be washed later. As you might expect, he completely forgot about it, until a few days later when he went to pull out his freshly washed laundry and was surprised to find this net with a wadded up roll of something among his usual clothes.

“What…what is this?!” he thought to himself as he reached into the bag and pulled out what looked like a wonton.

He had to unravel the little crumpled ball before he remembered that he’d left the mask in the washer.

“Oh, right,” he thought sheepishly, and then gave the mask a little tug and pull to reshape it, before hanging it up to dry with all his other laundry.

▼ Just hanging out

As it turned out, though Go hadn’t really given much thought to how the mask should be washed, he’d actually done it exactly as recommended by the government. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare does recommend hand washing, but as written on the Ministry’s website, when hand washing is not possible, you can use a washing machine instead:

“When hand washing is not possible, please place the mask into a laundry net before washing it in the washing machine. Please use a small net that is close to the size of the mask. Try to use a net size that is small enough to keep the mask from moving too much within it.”

Go felt proud that he’d done it right without even knowing it. “Look at me, I’m a proper adult!” he declared proudly. “I’m a model Abe mask user!”

So how did the mask come out after drying? Naturally, it looked a little used, but that’s to be expected. Compared to the unused mask that came in the same pack…

▼ Used on the left, new on the right

It did shrink ever so slightly, but not nearly as much as Go had expected! From what people were saying, he’d assumed it would shrink to a comical size, but it had hardly shrunk at all.

▼ Used on top, new on the bottom

He decided to measure it to see just how much it shrank, and it turned out to be just two millimetres shorter from the top and three millimetres shorter on the sides. Not bad!

Time for a pop quiz! Which is the used mask, and which is the new one?

Maybe it’s easy to tell from the front. But if Go turns his head to the side…Can you tell which is the used one?

And what if he strikes a pose? Note that the used mask is not always the same answer.

Can you tell from this angle?

It’s almost impossible to tell the difference when it’s being worn!

In conclusion, the masks seem to hold up just fine in the wash. They may get a little ragged over time, but for the most part they seem a sturdy and convenient alternative to disposable masks, so if you received some, don’t hesitate to use them (as long as they weren’t dirty when you got them)!

(P.S.: The answers to the quiz are as follows. 1 – A is the used mask; 2 – B; 3 – A; 4 – A.)

Photos © SoraNews24
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