Cloth Face Masks: What You Need to Know

Homemade face mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who go into public where physical distancing is difficult should use cloth masks to cover their faces — regardless of whether or not they’re sick.

You also will be asked to wear a face covering when entering any of our health care facilities, and some other businesses, such as salons, also require you to wear a face covering when you visit. Here’s what you need to know about masks:

Who should wear a face mask?

The CDC says people should wear a cloth face covering in situations where they’ll be around others and physical distancing might be difficult, such as going to a grocery store, pharmacy or public trail. This doesn’t apply to children younger than 2 or people with breathing difficulties; in their cases, the face covering could do more harm than good.

What type of mask should I wear?

The CDC recommends cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The latter are critical medical supplies that should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.

Are cloth masks effective?

COVID-19 is spread through water droplets, and although cloth masks aren’t 100% effective as a barrier, they can reduce the distance droplets travel. Just imagine how far droplets from a sneeze travel if not covered… then you can see how a cloth mask would help limit their spread.

It’s important to note, though, that cloth masks will not protect you from inhaling the virus; rather, they can help stop you from spreading it. Because not everyone who has the virus shows symptoms, adding this extra layer of precaution could help stop people from spreading it unknowingly.

How do I properly wear a cloth mask?

The mask should completely cover your mouth and nose. It should fit snugly against your face — don’t allow any gaps on the sides of your face, chin or bridge of your nose. Also, be sure the mask is secured properly with ties or ear loops, so you don’t have to fidget with it.

If your mask doesn’t fit properly, you likely will continually adjust it and end up touching your face — something that could expose you to the virus.

How can I make my own face mask?

Cloth masks can be made from a variety of household materials, from bandanas to T-shirts. The two most important things to consider are breathability and layers. Make sure your mask has multiple layers to help contain water droplets, but not too many that you can’t breathe comfortably.

The CDC has provided three tutorials for making simple cloth masks.

How do I sanitize a homemade cloth mask?

Washing your mask in the washing machine after each time you wear it is enough to sanitize it. Just be sure to choose materials that can be washed and dried without the mask shrinking or being damaged.

The key takeaway: If you’re going out in public, wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene can go a long way in reducing the spread of COVID-19.


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