Tips for properly wearing and washing your face mask

Monday, April 27, 2020
Tips for properly wearing and washing your face mask
Have you been washing your cloth face mask after every use? This Kelsey-Seybold surgeon has all the information you need for proper mask usage.

As we all adjust to wearing face masks in public, it's important to be educated on how to properly clean and care for your mask.

Under the new mask order in Harris County, residents 10 years and older will be required to wear a covering out in public starting today.

The order is expected to last 30 days, but it's not just about wearing your mask. It's about wearing and cleaning it properly.

READ MORE: Harris County mask order goes into effect today

Kelsey-Seybold orthopedic surgeon and COVID-19 response team member Dr. Catherine Cahill says cloth masks should be thick.

Some recommended material is a scarf, bandanna or shirt folded over a few times. Before putting your mask on, she says you must wash your hands.

"And then you just want to place it over your nose and mouth and hook, hook the little hair ties or elastics over your ears. You want to try to not touch your face after you've got it on and adjusted," Cahill said. "When you get back, you just take it off from the earpieces and hold it over and you can just drop it right into the washing machine. You can just wash it with normal detergent, soap and water. It doesn't need anything special."

She says the same goes for cloth masks with ties, which are a good option for people with sensitive ears, or who are tempted to adjust their masks once they are on.

RELATED: How to make face masks from materials found at home

"You want to cover your nose and mouth, and then just be careful not to touch your face when you tie it on," Cahill said.

She says after each use, they need to go directly into the laundry. You cannot wear them again without washing them.

Last week, Mattress Mack gave out thousands of masks to residents ahead of the order.

Cahill says if you are using a paper mask, throw the mask away after each use. They cannot be worn again or cleaned.

"These are really designed for single use, and there is no good way to wash these, so you just want to use these one time," Cahill said.

SEE ALSO: Support first responders and local businesses with these face masks

She says if you are using a material other than cloth, a common misconception is that you can use hand sanitizer to disinfect them.

She says once the material becomes wet, it is no longer effective.

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