As of April 7, 2020, we’ve updated this information about the use of cloth face masks based on information published by CDC and Washington State Department of Health.
Anytime you are in within six feet of someone, tiny droplets from talking, as well as from sneezing or coughing can land on nearby people and surfaces and then transfer to other people. Listed below are habits you may want to develop, including the use of face masks.
Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Stay home as much as possible. During stay-at-home orders, leave the home only for essential tasks, such as grocery shopping.
- Staying home is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. This includes older adults, people with weakened immune systems (such as those undergoing cancer treatment), and those with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, respiratory conditions (such as asthma), or people who have had a transplant.
- If someone in your household is sick, the entire household should remain quarantined.
Avoid close contact with other people. Put at least 6-feet of distance between yourself and other people.
Always cover coughs and sneezes using a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash or sanitize your hands.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially when your hands are unwashed.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes doorknobs and handles, light switches, phones, tables and countertops, desks and keyboards, faucet handles, sinks and toilets. For more information, see CDC information about household cleaning and disinfection.
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How to use a cloth face mask
Do NOT wear medical grade or surgical masks. These are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders. Medical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers who are on the front lines working to protect us all. Please avoid buying surgical, N95 respirator, or other medical masks.
The most important thing we can all do to control the spread of colds and flu is to stay home and practice social distancing.
When you are in public, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face covering. This includes while shopping in grocery stores and pharmacies, or any area where there has been significant community-based transmission, such as the Puget Sound region.
Guidance for the use of cloth face masks:
What is the purpose of face masks?
Cloth face makes are meant to slow the spread of the virus by limiting the release of potentially infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face masks can help prevent you from unknowingly spreading the virus to others and touching your face with unwashed hands.
When should I wear a face mask?
You may choose to wear a cloth face covering when you are in public for an essential activity, such as grocery shopping.
Note: Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need for other preventive measures: wash your hands often, keep 6 feet between yourself and others, and return home immediately after essential tasks.
How should I use a face mask?
Before putting on a face mask, wash your hands with soap and water.
Grasp the bands or ties and place the mask over your mouth and nose. Use the ear loops or ties to secure the mask. It should fit snugly with no gaps between your face and the mask. Avoid touching the mask or your face.
While wearing a face mask, don’t pull the mask down and then pull it back up; you’ll might transfer something on the mask to your mouth or nasal passage. Keep the mask on securely until you’re back at home.
Remove the mask by grasping with the bands or ties. Be sure not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth while taking off the mask. Place the mask in the laundry basket. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
After each use, wash the cloth mask with detergent and hot water and dry it completely on a hot cycle. Inspect the mask for tears or holes, and throw it out if it’s damaged.
Who should NOT wear a face mask?
Cloth face masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, or who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
How to make a homemade cloth face mask
You can source materials at home; be sure to wash the mask materials before making masks. The best material to use is 100% cotton from sheets or pillowcases, t-shirts, or a bandanna, which are all very breathable. Silk and linen are also good choices, but much more expensive materials and slightly less breathable. Avoid materials like thick towels, cotton-poly blend fabrics, antimicrobial pillowcases, and vacuum cleaner bags–all these materials are less breathable and you will likely breathe through the sides of the mask rather than through the material, which is the goal.
Before handling mask making materials, wash your hands and practice good hand hygiene throughout the process. Sanitize work surfaces and tools with a disinfectant before making masks. Do not eat or drink while making masks.
Keep all mask materials away from animals and household members who may be sick or are not involved in mask making.
Simple DIY cloth face mask
The mask needs to enclose the area around the nose and mouth, from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extending onto the cheek beyond the corners of the mouth so no gaps occur when talking or moving.
One of the simplest ways to make a homemade cloth face mask is to tie a bandanna around your face.
Another way to make a simple face mask is to fold a piece of cloth several times and use rubber bands over your ears to secure the cloth over your face. This simple method is demonstrated in the following YouTube video by Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.
More cloth face mask designs
There are MANY instruction sheets and videos for making cloth face masks. Here are a few using different designs for DIY homemade masks, including no sew and sewing methods:
- Sew and no sew instructions for cloth face covers from the CDC.
- Step-by-step instructions to sew a face mask from the New York Times.
- How to make a DIY reusable fabric face mask (with filter) on YouTube via link from CDC from face mask instructions on xobonmag.com.
- How to Sew a Fitted Cotton Face Mask on sweetredpoppy.com
- Cotton face mask with a pocket on Google Drive
Donating homemade masks
Many local manufacturing companies have stepped up to rapidly produce masks and face shields on a large scale for the healthcare community.
We checked several major hospitals in the Seattle area, and none were accepting homemade masks. However, if you wish to make and donate homemade masks, use this directory to find an organization in need and contact them directly.
If you are a company willing to shift gears and re-purpose manufacturing operations, use this form to contact the Washington State coronavirus response.
Stay up-to-date on the current COVID-19 situation in Washington State.
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