Tips on how to properly wear homemade face masks

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After initial reluctance to recommend its use by the general public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says mask up.

But before you do, there are some things you need to know to make sure that homemade face masks are providing the protection you need.

Kent County Health Department Immunization Program Supervisor Mary Wisinski says the masks can provide a layer of protection, not only from those who have the virus and are out in public, but for the person wearing it who is asymptomatic.

“So, if the person does have the virus without symptoms in a grocery store, that mask will prevent the spread,” Wisinski said.

The homemade masks are easy to make, but there are still the right ways and wrong ways to wear them.

It starts with the fit.

“It should fit snugly,” Wisinski said, as she demonstrated with a common homemade mask. “We do want to make sure it covers the nose and part of the cheek. It should be made of many layers of fabric.”

The droplets that carry the virus are blocked on both the inside and outside of the masks.

When taking it off, don’t just pull it off. Wearers should reach around to the ties at the back of your head, where contaminants can’t reach.

“It’s important to avoid your eyes, your nose, your face,” Wisinski said. “I have the two hands — I’m going to reach around the back, I’m going to pull the top off, and then I’m going to pull the bottom part of my mask off.”

And take it all the way off, not just down around your neck.

You could end up spreading the virus on other parts of your face and neck.

“Again, it’s another chance for contamination. Your best bet it to leave it on, and only take it off once,” Wisinski said.

You should place the mask in a container, like a baggy.

“And then put your mask in the regular washing machine cycle,” Wisinski said.

While they can provide another layer of protection, Wisinski says don’t let the mask give you a false sense of security.

“It still doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay attention to social distancing, good hand washing,” Wisinski said. “This is meant to be a measure for when you cannot do that.”