Navigating Life & COVID-19

About Face Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies. The CDC says that wearing a mask can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

While no mask can prevent a person from catching COVID-19, wearing one is an additional step everyone can take to avoid spreading it. 

How to make or choose a mask

Because surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical for healthcare workers, the CDC recommends everyone else use cloth masks. You can make your own at home from cotton sheets, a bandana or an old T-shirt — any material you can clean in a washing machine.

Whether you are making your own or purchasing a cloth face covering, the mask should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include more than one layer of fabric.
  • Allow for easy breathing.
  • Be able to be washed and dried without changing shape.

How to wear and care for your mask

Take these steps to get the most protection from your mask:

  • Before using your mask, always wash your hands.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when wearing or taking off your mask. Wash your hands if you do.
  • Replace masks after they’ve become damp. If you use a single-use mask, discard it after use.
  • To take off the mask, remove it from behind. Don’t touch the front, as it may contain germs. Put the mask in a secure place until you can wash it. If it is a single-use mask, throw it in an enclosed trash can.
  • Wash your hands right after you take your mask off.
  • You should wash your cloth face mask often in hot water.

Who shouldn’t wear a mask

Cloth face masks should not be placed on:

  • Children under age two.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without help.

The CDC has tips for making and wearing face masks, and other important guidelines. Get more ideas about navigating life in the time of COVID-19.