MASK SAFETY 101: HOW TO USE & RE-USE A FACE MASK TO SLOW THE SPREAD
There is a sea of conflicting information on how and why to wear protective face coverings and it can be a little overwhelming! We've partnered with the University of Oregon School of Sports Product Management to provide concise and easy to follow instructions on effectively slowing the spread of COVID-19 and how to properly care for your mask to reduce dependency on disposable PPE.
When combined with limiting physical contact, maintaining your distance from others, washing hands often, disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and staying close to home when feasible, your personal PPE is the most effective method to slowing the spread and protecting your community and loved ones. We hope the below recommendations help you navigate your daily lives in a safe manner.
Here's to helping create a healthier and safer planet for us all!
Just bought a mask or received one in the mail? Great! You can go ahead and do a little dance because this is the first step to helping make our current world a safer place.
Once you're done with that, be sure to:
- Wash your hands after opening delivered packages and/or mask packaging.
- Wash your mask thoroughly before proceeding to wear it, even if your mask is brand new.
Ready to don your new masked look? Here's how to do it in a safe manner.
- Wash your hands prior to touching your mask.
- Inspect the mask to make sure that it isn’t compromised in any way.
- Distinguish which side of the mask is the outside and which side is the inside. Typically,
the outside of the mask will be colored.
- Place the mask over your mouth and nose, and pull the ear/head loops back and adjust the metal nose support to comfortably secure the mask to your face.
- Finally, make sure that your nose, chin and mouth are fully covered after the mask is secured to the face, leaving no gaps on the side. Then less openings there are between the mask and your face, the more protection it offers.
We are still learning about best practices for mask wearing, but the #1 goal is for the mask to protect others around you from particles you might be spreading. That said, it is critical to wear your mask when in the vicinity of others.
- Ensure your mask nose support is comfortable and in place to reduce the need for adjusting and touching your face.
- Change your mask as soon as possible if it gets dirty or wet, or after you are in highly exposed areas.
- Adhere to proper safety and social distancing measures even while wearing your mask.
Removing your mask, whether in public, in your car, or when you're back home, requires a few steps in order to minimize exposure or spreading of particles that may have landed on your mask.
- Wash hands before removing mask.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the mask.
- Untie or remove from side of the head using the ear loops/ties/band to lift mask off face. Avoid touching the front of the mask while removing.
- Put directly in the wash machine or have a designated spot for dirty masks.
- Immediately wash hands after removing mask.
- Masks should be washed after every use. EVERY. USE. Treat them like your underwear.
- Don’t shake dirty laundry to reduce risk of dispersing the virus through the air
- Both machine washing and hand washing are approved to properly clean masks, however, many suggest that machine washing is more effective.
- If machine washing: wash in warmest possible heat setting (at least 140༠ F) with detergent. Then dry on hottest possible dryer setting (at least 160༠ F). If you have skin sensitivities, we recommend you to consider the detergent you are using, as some detergents are not meant to sit so closely to our faces.
- If hand washing: Lather masks with soap and scrub them for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot water before tossing in the dryer. For peace of mind, iron masks on the cotton or linen setting to kill any remaining germs.
- Wash your hands and disinfect the hamper, etc.
- Wash your hands again (are you sick of us telling you to wash your hands yet? :)
- Inspect it to be sure it can be reused. Has it been compromised? If it is, go ahead
and throw it away, then perform hand hygiene. If the mask is OK to reuse, fold
the mask in half, so that the outside surfaces are touching each other
- Place it carefully into a clean storage area/bag
- To reapply the mask, first perform hand hygiene, then grab the mask from the
area/storage bag by the elastic loops
- Wash your hands often: after using the restroom, pre and post meals, before and
after leaving your house
- Use hand sanitizer anytime you are out and do not have access to a sink
- Ensure to not touch your face until you have washed your hands
- Wash with warm water and adequate soap
- Wash for 30 seconds
- Let the water rinse the soap off your hands (don’t scrub under the water)
- Use the paper towel to turn off the water, dry your hands, and open the door
- Cover your mouth and nose and cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissue
- If a tissue is not available, cough/sneeze into your upper sleeve, but not your
- Wash hands after coughing/sneezing into them.
- Limiting face to face contact is key in decreasing the rate of spreading COVID-19
- Try to stay home as much as possible, and only leave for essentials (groceries,
- When possible, use curbside pickup, mail order items, or grocery delivery
- If you have to leave your home, make sure you stay 6 feet away from people
- Do not gather in large groups and avoid mass gatherings (concerts, sporting
- If at all possible, avoid using public transportation (such as busses, taxis, even
rideshare apps like Uber/Lyft)
*All information provided above is recommendation-based, guided by the data provided by the Center for Disease Control, Colorado School of Public Health, Tufts Medical Center, and other sources. It may change at any given moment due to rapidly evolving research around the novel Coronavirus.