A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

3 things to know about cloth masks

Cloth masks have become a new fashion statement in 2020, as more and more people are creating homemade masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But, the benefit is not just uniquely-designed masks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a cloth mask in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores, clinics and pharmacies, and especially in areas of the U.S. with significant community-based transmission.

Cloth Face Masks - Do they work?

CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask covering when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Benefits of a cloth mask

CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings, like a cloth mask, to help stop transmission of the virus by people who may have the virus and not know it. Covering your nose and mouth keeps your germs to yourself. Because symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, according to CDC, wearing a cloth mask is a way to prevent the spread.   

Wearing a cloth mask doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick because viruses can be transmitted through your eyes or by tiny viral particles. However, cloth masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is the main transmission route of COVID-19.

Cloth masks are more effective when you practice social distancing. If you are not feeling well or have symptoms of COVID-19, use Marshfield Clinic Health System online screening tool to check your symptoms before visiting a doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency department.

Wearing your cloth mask

Keep in mind that cloth masks or face coverings are not surgical masks or N95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must be reserved for health care workers, as recommended by CDC.

Additionally, cloth masks should not be placed on children under age 2, or on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

When wearing a cloth mask, it should be placed over your nose and mouth. You also should remember to:

  • Cover your mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze, even when wearing a mask.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water if you touch the outside of your mask.
  • Fold your mask to avoid touching the outside when you take it off.
  • Store in a paper bag so it can dry out and not contaminate other surfaces.
  • Wash your mask as often as you can.

Cleaning your cloth mask

Your cloth mask should be washed according to how frequently you wear it.

The best way to clean cloth masks is in the washing machine under a delicate setting, depending on how the cloth mask was designed. If the fabric for the cloth mask was pre-shrunk, it is safe to dry in a dryer. You can also air dry your cloth mask to reduce shrinking.

Cloth masks should be thrown away if they are damaged or hard to breathe through.

Masking guidelines

Download the handy chart below to make sure you follow the Do’s and Don’ts of wearing a mask.

Download PDF

Visiting a Marshfield Clinic Health System facility

Patients and visitors are required to wear a mask when in one of our facilities. If you have a mask, please wear it to your appointment. If you do not have a mask, you will be given one at the entrance.

Learn more about how we are keeping patients safe by clicking here.

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