Keeping Reusable Cloth Masks Safe

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Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) encourages you to wear cloth face coverings while in public. This follows new recommendations by the CDC aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. Instructions for making a DIY cloth mask can be found on the CDC website. All cloth masks should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be machine washable and dryable on high heat

Guidelines for cloth mask safety

Here at YRMC, our Infection Control Team has issued guidelines on the safe use of cloth masks for non-patient contact staff. We would like to share these guidelines with you. We hope you will use them to keep your reusable DIY cloth masks as safe and effective as possible.

  1. DIY masks are meant to be reused and should be laundered each night before using again.
  2. There is an inside and an outside surface for every mask. For DIY masks, please mark one side to indicate the exterior surface.
  3. Put the mask on before leaving home, making sure it fits snugly over mouth AND nose. It will not work correctly unless snug. It should fit snugly but comfortably and allow for breathing without restriction. Secure with ties or ear loops. Breath with your nose and mouth THROUGH the fabric, not around it. Avoid wearing when wet from laundering or from saliva or mucus.
  4. Refrain from touching your face. Do not adjust the mask unless absolutely necessary, then only touch the sides and back ties. This is part of the function of the mask. To keep you from touching your face which is one of the main ways to share and contract the virus. Wash hands thoroughly if the front of the mask is touched.
  5. When taking it off CONSIDER THE MASK CONTAMINATED. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing it. Hold the mask by the edges or straps away from any part in contact with your face. Do not sit it down anywhere. Put it directly into the washing machine or place it in a paper bag until laundered, then throw the bag away. After removing the mask wash your hands.
  6. Do not wear the cloth mask again until it is laundered. Do not leave a used mask around your neck. Wash it in HOT soapy water and dry thoroughly before each use. (You may reuse a disposable mask for up to one week before discarding in the trash.)
  7. A mask does NOT change any other safety practices recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Continue to practice physical distancing and maintain a physical distance of six feet even while wearing your mask.

When NOT to use a cloth mask

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. YRMC will continue to monitor CDC recommendations as it learns more about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‐19).