How to properly care for cloth face coverings


How to properly care for cloth face coverings

If you’re going to be around others in public, it’s important to wear a cloth face covering to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. But how should you care for it?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public places such as the grocery store or pharmacy where social distancing is difficult.
It’s easy to make your own reusable cloth face covering with common household items such as an old shirt, scarf or other tightly woven cotton material and rubber bands or hair ties. Make sure to bring a face covering or mask with you if you have an appointment at a Tidelands Health care location. As part of the health system’s comprehensive “Safe in Our Care” commitment, all patients, visitors and team members are required to wear a face covering or mask in all Tidelands Health care locations.

The ‘Safe in Our Care’ commitment

Tidelands Health has implemented extra precautions to keep you safe while you get the medical care you need. Learn more about the health system’s “Safe in Our Care” commitment by clicking here. 

Although the health system will supply a face covering before you enter the building, it’s best to bring your own to help the not-for-profit health system conserve its supply.
Once you are done wearing your face covering, take it off using the straps, ties or loops, says Angela Harris, infection control manager at Tidelands Health. Avoid touching the mask itself or your eyes, nose or mouth.
If you are using a reusable covering, place it in a bag to be used again or laundered, then wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Wash face coverings regularly with your normal laundry and dry them on the medium or high temperature settings, depending on the type of material.
“I’d encourage people to wash the face covering on a daily basis,” Harris says. “They should definitely be washed if they become soiled.”
Harris says it’s important to replace your face covering if it develops a hole or becomes stretched and no longer covers your nose or mouth.


Here is key information to know about the use of cloth face coverings:

  • Closely follow the CDC’s instructions for making a cloth face covering. Coverings made from household items such bandanas, T-shirts, scarves and towels can be easily repurposed. Tightly woven cotton fabrics work best.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds immediately before and after using the face covering.
  • As noted above, routinely launder your cloth face covering. 
  • Make sure the face covering extends over both your nose and mouth.
  • Be certain the cloth face covering fits snugly (but comfortably) so you won’t feel compelled to adjust it using your hands while you’re out in public.


  • Don’t use face coverings on children under the age of 2, on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the covering without assistance.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth after removing the cloth face covering. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately before and after putting it on.
  • Don’t touch the inside or front of the cloth face covering when applying or removing the covering. Use the ties or bands for application and removal.
  • Don’t use a cloth face covering that has a hole or fits poorly.
  • Don’t share a cloth face covering with another person. Keep your cloth face covering for your own use.
  • Don’t leave a used cloth face covering laying around where it can be easily touched.
  • Don’t use medical facemask, such as an N95 respirator, which should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
Sign me up for email updates

Sign up below to receive email updates from

Live Better. Learn More.

Sign up for our e-newsletter.