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Why and How Should I Use a Face Mask?

What face mask should I use for coronavirus?


Are you in one of the states currently mandated to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus? If not, you almost definitely want to wear one anyway. Social distancing is tough to adhere to in certain areas such as grocery stores, public transportation, pharmacies, and other locations providing essential services. When you are in these environments, you can’t control what other people will do. Someone may turn the corner and find themselves a couple of inches away from your face, or the aisle that you’re in may become crowded.


Situations like these are unfortunately inevitable for many of us, and to protect your health and the health of the public, it is important to take every possible precaution against COVID-19 when you find yourself in public settings. As a public health effort, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you cover your face using a facial covering or mask. However, different masks vary greatly, and not just any mask will shield you from the coronavirus. During such a unique and scary time, there are many uncertainties, and all that we can do is use strict safety precautions. If you clicked on this article, you’re likely wondering, “what face mask should I use for coronavirus?”


Here’s what you need to know so that you can be certain that you are using the correct face mask for COVID-19.


What kind of material should my face mask be made out of?


The face mask that you use for coronavirus should be made out of cloth. You do not need to use a surgical mask or respirator mask when engaging in regular public outings. While you may see some people wearing health procedural masks in stores or other settings, it’s vital at this time that you buy or create a face mask made of fabric rather than purchasing new surgical masks that would be used by hospital staff and first responders. Surgical masks are in short supply and aren’t necessary to minimize the possibility of contracting coronavirus for the average person.


Many hospitals are struggling to gather enough medical face masks for their staff. If you are able to do so, donating health procedural face masks to hospitals is an excellent way to help during the crisis caused by COVID-19.


Make sure that your mask fits


After you make or buy your facemask, it is important to make sure that the mask fits. If it does not fit, it’s likely to be ineffective in protecting you from COVID-19. Here are some things to consider to ensure that your face mask is adequate and positioned properly:


A face mask should be secure and have a fit that is close to your face but comfortable. To provide adequate coverage, your face mask should have multiple sheets of fabric.


Wearing a facial covering or face mask should not make it difficult to breathe. If your mask is making it hard for you to take in oxygen, it may be too tight. Adjust your mask to fit properly or swap it out for another mask that doesn’t restrict your airflow.


Ensure that your mask has sturdy ties or ear loops so that it will remain secure and stay close to your face. You don’t want your mask to fall off or loosen.


If you are caring for a child, check that their mask fits these guidelines before leaving the house.


Where can I buy a face mask for coronavirus?


You can buy a facemask in person or online. Face masks suitable for COVID-19 are being sold in some grocery stores, large retail stores, and pharmacies. Another option is to make your own face mask out of materials that you have at home. As mentioned in the section below, if you have cloth materials such as T-shirts or bandannas, you have what you need for the base of the mask. The only thing that you might need to buy if you don’t already have it is the material necessary to create ear loops. You can buy elastic, hair ties, or rubber bands at a grocery store or large retailers such as Target or Walmart in the United States.


If you choose to buy a mask online, note that many artists are selling face masks on and other websites. COVID-19 has been detrimental for many small businesses, so if you’re not confident in making your own mask or can’t access the materials needed to do so, buying a mask from a small business or a creator is a great way to help keep them afloat. If you do decide to buy a ready-made mask that was not in sterile packaging prior to use, it is crucial that you wash it before putting it on.


Are self-made masks sufficient?


Yes! Self-made masks are sufficient and may, in fact, be the most cost-effective option. Many individuals are choosing to make their own cloth masks for coronavirus if they have the materials and ability to do so. If you aren’t the crafty type, it’s okay; making a face mask is straightforward and can be done using common items. The CDC website states that “Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”


To create a facial mask or cover for coronavirus, you can use store-bought fabric, old t-shirts, bandanas, pillowcases, or any other cloth materials that you have at home along with ear loops made out of elastic, rubber bands, or strips of cloth. Some people even use hair ties.


If you make your own face mask, you want to cut two pieces of fabric so that they are roughly 10x6 or find something that is already of that length and width. It’s important that you use two pieces of fabric instead of one so that you can layer the material adequately. The elastic or other products that you use to make ear loops for your mask should be about 6 inches in length, but it may vary slightly depending on the size and shape of your ears and face.


There are many videos to watch online about how to make a DIY face mask for coronavirus. Here are a couple of videos that you can refer to:


Non-ASL tutorial:

ASL tutorial:


The above videos were released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure that individuals are able to fashion a DIY face mask easily.


How to clean your face mask


It is vital that you sanitize your face mask regularly if you plan to re-wear it. If you have a cloth mask, you can refresh your mask and ensure that it’s safe to wear by putting it in the washing machine. Consider having several facial coverings or masks on hand if you’re able to do so for the sake of convenience. When you return to your home after wearing a mask in public areas, remove the mask carefully. You want to avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or skin as much as possible. After the mask is removed, set it aside until you re-wear it or put it in the washing machine for cleaning.

 A woman with dark hair wearing a black jacket wearing a face mask while shopping for vegetables

Is there anyone that shouldn’t wear a face mask?


Children under the age of two are not being advised to wear facemasks. If your child is an infant, you do not need to place a facial covering on them; doing so could lead to unintentional strangulation or choking. Instead, get a cover for your stroller or baby carrier, and consider leaving your children with another household member during your necessary outings if possible. When it comes to grocery stores and other enclosed spaces, most communities recommend that only one household member enters at a time. This is to avoid crowding areas and getting too close to other shoppers as a result.


Note that if your kids are over the age of two, it is recommended that they wear a face mask when in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, children must adhere to the standards of social distancing. While it may be difficult to explain to children that they can’t see their friends from other households at this time, it is a good opportunity to educate them about coronavirus and explain to them why they must wear a facial covering or mask when they’re in enclosed public spaces.


At this time, children under two years of age are the only individuals that shouldn’t wear a face mask save for those who are incapacitated, unconscious, or who do not have the ability to remove a face mask on their own if needed due to physical or mental causes. If someone that you care for fits one of the above categories, they should not wear a face mask.


Other ways to stay safe


Wearing a mask is a critical part of protecting your health and the health of those around you, but it is only one step toward stopping the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching things in public when possible, and sanitize items after receiving them in the mail or bringing them home from the store. Be mindful of how the virus spreads and maintain an appropriate distance (six feet) from others to ensure that they aren’t close enough to touch you or pass on the virus through respiratory droplets.


Check the World Health Organization and CDC websites regularly for accurate, up-to-date information, and be mindful of the requirements or instructions pertaining to preventing the spread of coronavirus in your local area. Information related to COVID-19 is changing rapidly, so it’s important to check in on a regular basis to stay in the know.




Remember that you can carry and spread coronavirus even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms yourself. Wearing a facial mask is new to most of us, but it is important to do so to protect those around us, especially individuals who are elderly or immunocompromised. Whether you purchase a face mask or make one yourself, know that by wearing one and adhering to the advice of health officials, you are making a valuable effort to preserve the wellbeing of others.


Sparklle Rainne is a writer, editor, and administrator who has been featured on Supportiv, The Good Men Project, and other outlets.