Currently, the scientific consensus is that face masks are at least somewhat effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, and both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a cloth face covering.
But which mask should you choose? Is the hand-stitched one your neighbor made just as good as the one produced by your favorite fashion retailer? Are disposable surgical masks just as good? How many layers of fabric should it have?
How to Select
When selecting a mask, there are may choices. Here are some dos and don'ts according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Do choose masks that:
- Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.
- Completely cover your mouth and nose.
- Fit snugly against the side of your face and does not have gaps.
Don't choose masks that:
- Are made from a fabric that is hard to breath in, for example vinyl.
- Have exhalation valves or vents, which allow virus particles to escape.
- Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks.
Gaiters and Face Shields is on going, however the effectiveness is unknown at this time.
Mask Effective Test
Can you blow out a candle with your mask on?
This question began circling around the internet after Bill Nye the Scientist Guy created a TikTok. Within the video, Bill Nye tries on various types of face masks that people use on a regular basis and tries to blow out a candle about a foot away.
Basically, you want the flame to stay lit. Otherwise it can be a sign that the mask isn't acting as a strong enough barrier. If you can blow out the flame easily while wearing a mask, there's too much air exchange between you and the outside world.
How to wear your masks
Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.
- Be sure to wash your hands before putting on your mask.
- Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it
How to take off your mask
1. Carefully, untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
2. Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
3. Fold outside corners together.
4. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth while removing.
5. Remember to wash your hands after removing your mask.
How to clean your masks
Masks should be washed regularly.
- Include your mask with your regular laundry.
- Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask
- Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry