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Q: I don't give much thought to my face mask, other than wearing it. Are there "best practices" I should be following?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has several recommendations to keep your face mask clean and safe for you and those around you.

Remember, you should always wear a face covering in public settings when around people who don't live in your household, especially when it may be difficult for you to stay 6 feet apart. Make sure it covers your nose and mouth to help protect others in case you're infected with COVID-19 but don't have symptoms.

Strategies for wearing and caring for facial coverings:

* Before donning your mask or face covering, wash your hands.

* Put the facial covering over your nose and mouth, and secure it under your chin.

* Fit the facial covering snugly against the sides of your face. If you feel the air going in or out around the mask, tighten the ties.

* Don't put the face covering around your neck or up on your forehead.

* Don't touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.

* Rotate use of the masks over several days, which gives time for the virus to die. (Viruses decay faster on fabric than on hard materials like steel or plastic.)

* Wash them with soap and water. Avoid bleach or hydrogen peroxide to prevent degradation of the fibers.

How to take off your cloth face covering when you're home:

* Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.

* Handle only by the ear loops or ties.

* Fold outside corners together.

* Place covering in the washing machine.

* Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing, and wash hands immediately after removing.

— Susan Raschal, D.O., Covenant Allergy and Asthma Care; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.

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Staff File Photo / Dr. Susan Raschal
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