COVID-19 Prevention: Cloth Face Coverings and Hand Washing

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Two of the easiest things to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is universal use of cloth face coverings and frequent hand washing. Cloth face coverings prevent the spread of droplets that may contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus; every person wearing one is protecting the others around them. Our hands come into contact with surfaces that are often touched by many others; hand washing is one of the most effective ways of keeping your hands virus-free.


Cloth Face Covering Use

Due to limited supply of surgical masks and N95 respirators, you want to use cloth face coverings. When wearing (also known as "donning") your cloth face covering, follow these simple steps:

  1. With clean hands, hold the ear loops of the cloth face covering and loop the ear loops behind the ears.

  2. If your mask has straps to be tied, start with the bottom first. Take both ends, one in each hand, and tie the strap behind the back of the neck. Repeat the same with the top straps, this time, tie the straps behind the back of the head.

  3. Adjust the bottom of the cloth face covering to fully cover the chin.

  4. Adjust the top of the cloth face covering to fully cover the nose. Gently press the metal tab over the nose with both hands to mold the tab to the bridge of the nose.


To take off (also known as "doffing") your cloth face covering, follow these simple steps:

  1. With clean hands, touch only the ear loops or the straps. Pull the ear loops off the ears or untie the straps. Make sure you do not touch the front surface of the cloth face covering.

  2. If you are taking off the cloth face covering momentarily (e.g., for lunch, to drive to the next destination), store the cloth face covering inside a clean paper bag. If needed, label the bag with with your name.

  3. Wash your hands after taking off the cloth face covering.


Wear the mask whenever you are out in public. Wearing the cloth face covering protects the people around you. Encourage others to wear the cloth face covering as well. While wearing the cloth face covering, follow these guidelines to further prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Do not touch your face

  • Do not touch the front surface of the cloth face covering

  • Make sure your nose and mouth are covered at all times

  • Wash your cloth face covering after each use



Making Your Own Cloth Face Covering

Cloth face coverings can be made with materials commonly found at home. The CDC has published guides on how to make your own cloth face covering. You can also consult with your healthcare provider for their guides on making cloth face coverings.


One alternative method to make your own cloth face covering, is to use non-woven fabrics, like the ones used in reusable bags. Non-woven fabric is moisture resistant and will provide better capture of droplets. Follow the instructions in this guide for an example of a non-woven fabric and how to make a cloth face covering out of it.