Wearing and Caring for Masks and Face Coverings
To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), health experts recommend that:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you (called social distancing or physical distancing).
- Clean our hands well and often.
- Wear a mask (or face covering) when leaving our homes.
- Follow local and national health department recommendations.
How Does a Mask Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus?
Coronavirus can spread when people breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze. Wearing a mask keeps the virus from reaching others. It also can stop the virus from reaching you. If everyone wears a mask when they're out in public, fewer people will get sick.
Masks do not replace social distancing. Outside your home, stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
Should People Who Are Not Sick Wear a Mask?
People with coronavirus may not have symptoms, but they can still spread the virus. So even people without symptoms should wear a mask.
Who Should Not Wear a Mask?
- Children under 2 years old should not wear a mask.
- Someone who is sick and has trouble breathing should not wear a mask.
- Anyone who can't take a mask off without help (for example, if they're unconscious) should not wear a mask.
What Is the Best Way to Put on a Mask?
- Before touching your mask or face covering, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Pick up the mask by the strings or ear loops, if it has them. If you have a cloth face covering that does not have strings or ear loops, try to pick it up in an area that will not touch your face.
- Adjust the strings, ear loops, or cloth face covering so it fits snugly against your face. There should be no gaps on the side of your face.
- The mask should cover your nose and mouth at all times.
- Do not pull the mask down to talk, cough, or sneeze.
What Is the Best Way to Remove a Mask?
- Before taking off your mask or face covering, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Untie the strings or remove by the ear loops, if your mask has them. If you have a cloth face covering that does not have strings or ear loops, remove the covering by touching a part of it that does not touch the face.
- Fold the mask together (with the part that touches the face on the inside) and place in a clean paper bag or into the washing machine.
- Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
How Should We Take Care of Masks and Cloth Face Coverings?
- Wash any worn masks at least once a day, or more often if they look dirty. If the manufacturer gave any special directions, follow them. Use the warmest settings on the washer and dryer that's safe for the material.
- It's OK to put your mask in the washing machine and dryer with your other laundry.
- Don't share masks unless they're washed and dried first.
- Don't store your mask with other people's masks. You can store each mask in its own clean paper bag or hang each one separately on a hook.
How Can I Clean My Mask Without a Washer and Dryer?
If you don't have a washer or dryer, you can hand wash your mask in a bleach solution and let it air dry:
- Mix 4 tablespoons (60 cc) of household bleach in 1 quart (1 liter) of room temperature water.
- Soak your mask in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
- Rinse well with room temperature water.
- Let mask air dry completely (in direct sunlight, if possible).
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to Masks
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: What to Do if Your Child Is Sick
- Hand Washing: Why It's So Important
- Understanding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Germs: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, and Protozoa
- Coronavirus: What Kids Can Do
- Why Are People Wearing Face Masks?
- Why Do I Need to Wash My Hands?
- What Are Germs?
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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