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Masks 101: How to Wear, Remove And Disinfect Masks Safely

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We have been told the best way to avoid catching the coronavirus is stay home. But as parts of the country open up, more and more people may be venturing out. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been recommending that if you do, wear a face covering, maybe an old T-shirt you fashioned into a face mask.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

But just as important as wearing that mask is how you handle it. First, wash your hands before and after putting on your mask. And when taking it off, touch only the straps or ties.

GONZALO BEARMAN: And not the front of the mask, where you could potentially contaminate your hands, which can be put to your eyes or to your mouth inadvertently.

KELLY: Dr. Gonzalo Bearman is chief of infectious diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University. He says after you carefully remove your mask, store it in a clean, dry place, like a paper bag.

CHANG: And as the CDC recommends, you should also wash your mask regularly with hot water if possible. Tumbling your mask in a hot dryer afterwards is also a great way to zap viruses and bacteria, Bearman says.

KELLY: But remember; protecting yourself and those around you does not end with covering your face.

BEARMAN: Even if one wears a mask properly and frequently, hand hygiene, the social distancing, avoiding gatherings - all of that is critically important.

KELLY: So pay attention to your local guidelines.

CHANG: And next time you don your mask, keep in mind that it has another more subtle benefit. It's a visual reminder to those around you to please keep your distance. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.