The CDC’s official recommendation to wear a mask has many Americans looking not just for masks to wear but guidelines on how to use them. Following proper use and care of masks can promote health while failing to do so may be riskier than not wearing a mask.

The CDC offers advice about the construction and fit of cloth face coverings. First, they should cover the mouth and nose, coming to rest under the chin and eyes. The masks should be comfortable yet snug and made from multiple layers of tightly-woven fabric that can be washed and dried in machines without damage, which the CDC recommends as sufficient for cleaning.

Masks can be sewn with elastic or fabric ties. No-sew coverings can be made from T-shirts or other fabric. In a pinch, a scarf or bandana can be used; although, it should be folded to create at least two layers.

Of course, the covering must allow you to breathe. Children younger than two and those people who have difficulty breathing because of conditions such as asthma do not have to wear face coverings. People who cannot remove a mask on their own should not have one placed on them.

These masks should be worn when shopping, attending medical appointments, using public transportation, interacting with customers at a place of employment, or feeling sick.

You should wash your hands and consider cleaning them with alcohol before putting it on. Repeat this process if you ever touch your mask. When removing a face mask or covering, make sure not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands as soon as possible after doing so.

Wash your mask after every use. You should not re-use a mask or store it where it could contaminate any other items, including in a purse or pocket. Having multiple masks ensures you have one available whenever necessary. Consider completing all your errands at once if you only have one mask available.

Wearing a mask does not mitigate the need for social distancing or washing your hands. Health departments recommend it in addition to those health safety measures. Wearing a face covering is the most effective when as many community members follow these guidelines as possible.