The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores and pharmacies, for example), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Some tips from the CDC website, which also offers some directions for making a homemade face covering:
How to wear a cloth face covering
Cloth face coverings should:
• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
• Be secured with ties or ear loops.
• Include multiple layers of fabric.
• Allow for breathing without restriction.
• Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?
Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.
How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?
A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.
How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?
Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.
2. Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight.
Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic head bands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.
A no-sew method
Materials: bandana (or square cotton cloth approximately 20-by-20 inch); cone-shaped coffee filter; rubber bands (or hair ties); scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth).
Directions: cut the coffee filter crosswise and discard the small end of the cone; fold bandanna or fabric square in half; place top half of coffee filter in center of fabric; fold top and bottom section of fabric inward, enveloping coffee filter; slide rubber bands or hair ties onto each end of resulting fabric strip, placing about 6 inches apart; fold outer edges of fabric strip in and tuck back under rubber bands or hair ties; place mask over lower face and fasten over ears with rubber bands or hair ties.