How to wear a face mask: all your questions answered!

Is your bandana really helping you? Should only people who know they’re infected wear masks? And what if your kids throw a tantrum when you ask them to put one on?

Face masks can be unexpectedly complicated, especially for those who are new to wearing them. Navigating which ones you should buy and understanding who they protect, figuring out if you can reuse them and how to get your little ones to wear them are daunting tasks.

Social distancing is still our best bet to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. But we have been encouraged by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear “cloth coverings” in places where distancing guidelines are hard to maintain.

Should I wear a mask in public?

Yes. We should wear “cloth coverings” in public places where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The updated guidance was in light of new evidence of the high percentage of people spreading the virus asymptomatically. This means the virus can easily spread between people interacting in close proximity by coughing, sneezing or even talking — even if those people aren’t exhibiting symptoms.

Who is protected by wearing a mask?

The benefit of wearing masks in public isn’t to protect you from getting sick. It’s to protect others from exposure if you are sick or if you’re an asymptomatic carrier. But if we all wear masks, we could help each other.

Wearing a mask doesn’t totally prevent you from getting infected, Vinetz added. The virus can live on surfaces for hours, and in trace amounts up to three days, and it’s easy to touch your face when you’re not wearing a mask.

Which kind of mask?

You can easily make your own cloth mask from old clothes or other common materials and household items. And you don’t even have to sew. You can make one using a bandana and coffee filter.

Our respiratory droplets form in a range of sizes, but the tiny ones, called aerosol particles, can slip through the gaps between certain cloth fibers.

You could substitute the chiffon with natural silk or flannel, or use a cotton quilt with cotton-polyester insulation, to achieve great results. There are also disposable cloth masks you can buy in a store or online. They’re not made for surgery or hospitals, but they are effective for your needs and widely used.

Are cloth masks as effective as medical masks?

Medical-grade masks are more effective, but that “doesn’t mean we should dismiss the benefit of cloth masks,

Because of how far our respiratory droplets travel when we talk, cough or sneeze, face masks can still help to contain the range of those droplets.

Can you reuse them?

Homemade masks can be reused because they’re washable. If you already have a disposable surgical or medical-grade mask, those can be reused, too. To disinfect it, leave it in a clean,safe place in your house for a couple days. After that, it should no longer be infectious.

Can you microwave them to kill germs?

If you’re thinking you might be able to nuke your mask to kill germs, that’s “not a great idea, if there’s a metal piece in an N95 or surgical mask and even staples, you can’t microwave them. It’ll blow up.

If you have a homemade or cloth mask or what’s called a face covering, you just wash it.

How can I stop my glasses from fogging up?

To avoid fogging up your glasses, you have to fold the mask around your nose so that the air coming out of your mouth or nose doesn’t rise to your glasses.

How do I get my kids to wear one?

To ease their mask fears, buy or make coverings with appealing fabrics, or draw something cool with markers to make them look more fun. Try drawings of your child’s favorite superheroes or ninjas wearing masks as they go about helping other people. Show your child your own mask and how, by wearing one, he’ll be just like Mom or Dad. See if you can find pictures of your kid’s favorite celebrities wearing masks.