According to the CDC, cloth face coverings can be an effective way of preventing spread of infectious diseases. Cloth face coverings are used over the mouth and nose of a person who is or might be infected to catch virus particles from a cough, sneeze or normal talking. Face coverings provide the best protection to the wearer if they are 1) the right type for the situation, 2) worn properly and 3) handled properly. Wearing a cloth face covering can decrease risk but does not provide complete protection. Other risk reduction measures should also be followed, like physical distancing, handwashing and hand sanitizer usage, and avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose.
WEARING CLOTH FACE COVERINGS IN FOOD SETTINGS
- Many essential workers at grocery stores, restaurants, farms and food manufacturing are now being asked to wear a cloth face covering during work hours.
- Cloth face coverings and gloves are intended to decrease the risk of transferring the virus particles from hands or through respiratory droplets from the mouth or nose. Face covers can also reduce transfer from inadvertently touching the nose or mouth.
- Gloves and cloth face coverings do not eliminate risk, they only reduce it; they should be used in conjunction with handwashing and hand sanitizer use and physical distancing whenever possible.
- Since cloth face coverings may become contaminated they should be changed as needed and laundered between uses.
CARING FOR A CLOTH FACE COVERING
- Cloth face coverings can trap moisture with use, so it is best to have several on hand to use throughout the day.
- Masks and cloth face coverings should be handled assuming they are contaminated with the virus causing COVID-19.
- Face coverings should be removed without touching the inside. They should be immediately placed with dirty laundry, or stored in a plastic bag until they can be properly cleaned.
- Wash your hands after handling a used face covering or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not an option. If possible, wash your face after removing a face covering.
- Cloth face coverings should be washed at the hottest setting for the fabric, and dried thoroughly before next use.
- Follow CDC guidance at go.ncsu.edu/cdclaundry
- Washing is more effective than heat alone, so face coverings should not be heated in microwave or conventional ovens.
HOW SHOULD CLOTH FACE COVERINGS BE WORN?
- Cloth face coverings can be uncomfortable to wear. A proper fit is tight over the nose, mouth and chin.
- Shaving is not necessary for cloth face coverings or surgical masks. Cloth face coverings can help reduce disease transmission but wearing one does not provide absolute protection.
- According to CDC, wear cloth face coverings whenever interacting with the public or when caring for someone who is sick or may be infected.
- It is not necessary to wear a face covering while at home or outside for exercise.
No-sew cloth face coverings can be made from cut up t-shirts or folded bandanas. For step by step instructions on no-sew and sewn versions, visit go.ncsu.edu/cdcfacecoverings or scan here.
Stay informed: ext.vt.edu/covid-19updates
Updated April 27, 2020
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.
April 16, 2020