COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. Unwittingly, they can spread the virus through coughs, sneezes or even a conversation. That is why emphasis has been placed on widespread usage of cloth face coverings or face masks and practicing social distancing. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Wearing a cloth face covering or face mask is an extra step to slow the spread of respiratory germs like COVID-19.
How to wear it
When combined with other hygiene and preventative practices, like regular handwashing, it may help keep you and others from being infected. Thus, knowing how to properly and safely wear your mask or cloth face covering is very important. The CDC recommends wearing your mask or face covering the entire time you are in public or when around people who do not live in your household. The fit should be snug against your face, cover your nose and mouth, and allow you to breathe easily.
Wash your hands before putting on and after removing a mask or face covering. To care for your mask or face covering and avoid spreading germs, don’t touch it. If you do, wash your hands. When not in use, don’t put it around your neck or on your forehead. When removing your mask or face covering, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Face covering and mask care
Cloth face coverings should be laundered after each use. They can be machine washed with your regular laundry or washed by hand. For machine washing, the CDC recommends using regular laundry detergent and warmest appropriate water setting for the covering’s cloth. To wash by hand, the CDC recommends preparing a bleach solution to soak the cloth face covering. The solution must be made with bleach designed for disinfection and must not have expired. Depending on your needs, mix:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
- 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water
Soak your cloth face covering in the solution for 5 minutes then rinse with cool or room temperature water. The face covering may be dried in a dryer on the highest heat setting or air-dried.
When storing face masks, carefully fold them in half so the side that touches your mouth is on the inside. The folded mask can be stored between uses in a clean sealable paper bag or breathable container. Wash your hands afterward. The CDC recommends that disposable face masks be discarded and replaced if they become soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through.
Go to www.cdc.gov to learn more about COVID-19 and prevention steps.