Mask wearing has become a staple in our everyday lives since the pandemic began. Though it's an adjustment and different from what we're used to, this simple practice is worth it to help keep yourself and others around you safe from a virus that doesn't discriminate.
Because the CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings—like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people—there are some things to consider:
Selecting and Wearing a Mask
The CDC recommends choosing masks that have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. Don't opt for masks made of material that makes it hard to breathe, such as vinyl. The mask you choose should be able to completely cover your nose and mouth, and should not have exhalation valves or vents, as these allow particles to escape and defeat the purpose of the mask. Be sure the mask you choose fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn't have any gaps.
Remember to wash your hands before putting your mask and to avoid touching it once in place.
Cleaning Your Mask
If using a fabric reusable mask, it's vital that your masks are washed regularly. The CDC recommends removing your mask correctly and washing your hands after handling or touching a used mask. To avoid running out of clean masks, have multiple clean ones on hand.
It's acceptable to include your mask with your regular laundry. If concerned about wear and tear, you could wash it in a mesh bag meant for delicate items. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for whatever cloth the mask is made from. If drying in the dryer, use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry. If air drying, hang your mask or lay it flat in direct sunlight.
If using a disposable mask, be sure to discard once it's dirty or after wearing it once.
There are plenty of factors to ponder when it comes to properly and effectively wearing a mask. It's worth noting that a mask is not a substitute for social distancing and they should worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart from others.
Learn more about selecting, wearing and cleaning your masks at CDC.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.