It’s not a stretch to say cloth face coverings haven’t just become necessary during the COVID-19 outbreak, they’ve become fashionable. Folks are using them not just to protect the vulnerable people in their lives and communities, but also to make a statement. Whether it’s a message, an interesting image, a funky pattern, or the logo of their favorite team, people are creating amazing masks and making wearing them cool. And that’s a good thing. Because doing so is a great additional step in slowing the spread of the virus and keeping all of us safer.
Of course, like anything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered some great tips on how to wear and wash your mask properly so it can do the job you intended.
Wearing your face covering correctly
Wearing a face covering is very effective at keeping droplets from our mouths from getting into the air and reaching other people – as long as we’re wearing it correctly. Here’s how to do that:
First, be sure to wash your hands before putting your face covering on, that way any germs from your hands don’t wind up on your mask. Put your mask over both your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. It should fit snugly against the sides of your face while also allowing you to breath easily.
It’s best to keep the covering on your face the entire time you’re in public. And try not to touch it if you can. If you do, wash your hands as soon as possible.
Removing your mask
It’s important to remove your mask carefully to make sure anything that’s gotten on it doesn’t get on you. The best way to do that is to only handle your mask by the ear loops or ties. Start by untying the strings behind your head or stretching the ear loops. Once you’ve pulled it off, fold the outside corners together. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when and after removing your mask, and wash your hands immediately.
Keeping your face cover clean
Wearing a mask is a great start, but you’ll need to keep it clean for it to continue to be effective. Ideally you should wash your cloth face covering each time you use it. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy.
If you prefer to machine wash it, just put it in with your regular laundry. A quality laundry detergent will clean your face cover just fine as long as you’re using the warmest water you can for the type of cloth it’s made from.
You can wash your face covering by hand as well. The best way to do it is to prepare a bleach solution by mixing 4 teaspoons of household bleach with a quart of room-temperature water. Then soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes. After it’s done soaking, rinse your mask thoroughly with cool or room-temperature water.
Be sure your face cover is completely dry before you use it again. You can toss it in the dryer on the highest heat setting or lay it flat and let it air dry.
Whatever style mask you wear, keep wearing it and keep it clean. Because when you do, the biggest statement you’ll be making is “we’re all in this together.”