Cloth face coverings and masks can be made from items you already have such as t-shirts, bandanas, pillowcases, and scraps of fabric. Cloth face covering and masks should cover your mouth and nose, fit snugly but comfortably, include multiple layers of fabric, and allow for breathing without restriction. When choosing a material, look for something that has tight stitching while still being breathable. Cotton is a great option, while loose-knit fabrics will not provide much protection and should be avoided. A quick google search will bring up many ideas including no-sew options and patterns for those who can sew, as well as companies selling ready-to-use cloth masks.
Cloth face coverings should be worn any time you are out in public – at the grocery store, running errands, and when using mass transit or ride shares. When wearing these cloth face coverings and masks, it is still important not to touch your face. If you can’t breathe in your mask, choose a different material. If the mask is uncomfortable, try not to adjust it until you can wash your hands or at least use a hand sanitizer first. If you are re-wearing a mask that has not been laundered, be sure to put the same side towards your face each time. And, remember to wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.
Disposable N95 respirators and surgical masks are intended for single-use and should only be used by medical professionals and others at high risk of contracting or spreading the virus. If you have these at home, please consider donating them to your local hospital to help protect those who are protecting us. Many hospitals are resorting to extreme measures to protect their nurses and doctors due to supply shortages of protective gear. If you are in a position to be able to make cloth face coverings, most hospitals are taking donations of homemade masks as well. Just be sure to call the hospital before bringing donations so they can make arrangements for receiving them.
Cloth face coverings and masks, however, can usually be laundered to clean. Cloth masks can be laundered with other clothing or washable items, using your regular detergent and warm water. The CDC recommends washing cloth masks in the hottest water and drying on the highest temperature that is safe for the fabric. Check with the manufacturer (if available) or use the same care as you would with similar types of fabric and your cloth masks should last for many uses.