The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that masks or simple face coverings be worn whenever people come into contact with others, whether it be when on the job, or visiting stores to restock on essential items. When using disposable or cloth masks, here are a few helpful guidelines for when to clean them or switch them out:
For non-medical use, masks can generally be used for an entire day before disposal, but they should be changed out or washed in these cases:
- Disposable masks should be thrown away when they become damp, soiled or damaged and cloth masks should be washed when they become damp or soiled.
- Immediately wash or dispose of masks if you come into contact with a symptomatic person.
Remember, while wearing a medical or non-medical mask, it is important to follow guidelines for proper mask use and disposal, and failing to follow these procedures can put you and those around you at risk of coming into contact with potential contaminants. Here are some useful Dos and Don'ts for proper mask use:
- Wash your hands before touching the mask
- Inspect the mask for damage
- Always cover your mouth, nose and chin with the mask
- Avoid touching the mask
- Remove the mask from behind the ears or head, without touching the front
- Keep the mask away from surfaces and people during removal and discard immediately after use
- Wash your hands after discarding the mask
- Do not use a damp or damaged mask
- Do not only cover the mouth or the nose, both should be covered by the mask
- Do not wear a mask loosely, always adjust it to fit snuggly to the face
- Do not ever touch the front of the mask
- Do not pull down or remove the mask to talk to someone, or do anything else that would require touching the mask
- Do not leave used masks within the reach of others
- Do not reuse disposable masks for more than one day
It is also important to note that wearing a face mask or covering is only one measure to protect yourself and others from viral spread. Masks should always be used in conjunction with other safety guidelines including maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, frequent thorough hand washing, and avoiding touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes.