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Department of Health News

How to Wear and Care for Face Coverings


What is a face covering?

A face covering is a piece of material used to cover your nose and mouth and is worn to prevent the spread of germs and airborne pathogens like COVID-19. They work by filtering out and redirecting moisture droplets, catching any germs you are breathing out, and creating a barrier between your airways and potentially contaminated air. Wearing a face covering is a vital step of slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when they are worn in addition to other every day preventative actions like physical distancing, regularly washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick.

Face Masks

A face covering can be a bandana, folded shirt, fitted and hand-stiched, or medical-grade mask. Public Health experts recommend wearing a face covering anytime it is reasonably possible; essentially, anytime you leave your house and go into public. That means grocery stores and other retailers, parks, restaurants, and all other public spaces. Wearing a face covering is a proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

How to put on and take off a Face Covering

Putting your face covering on

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Grab earpieces and cover your mouth and nose with face covering, slipping or tying earpieces into place.
  3. If face covering is slightly out of position, readjust without touching the inside of your face covering.
  4. If your face covering has a wire nosepiece, clamp it into position for a snug fit around the bridge of your nose.

Taking your face covering off

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Untie or unhook ear pieces and remove face covering
  3. If your face covering is re-usable, put it in the laundry. If it is not re-usable, throw it away.
  4. Wash your hands

It is important to avoid touching your face covering while wearing it, always remove face coverings correctly, and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering. For more information click here or watch this video.

Wash and Dry your Cloth Face Covering

Cloth face coverings should be washed and dried after each use.

How to wash

Washing machine

  • You can include your face covering with your regular laundry.
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.

Washing by hand

  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
    • 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water
  • Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
  • Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.

How to dry

Dryer

  • Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.

Air dry

  • Lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.

Click here for more information on how to properly wash and dry your cloth face covering.