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Are you wearing your cloth mask the right way? Here are the most common mistakes

HOUSTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines last week, urging everyone to wear a mask when they leave the house. Due to the severe shortage of masks you can buy, many are resorting to making their own. Does that help provide protection?

Mask-making community grows

All over the Houston area, people are working together to make homemade cloth masks for those in need. Even the youngest members of the mask making community are working hard to help others.

“We have children as young as eight years old at home right now, and they are busy sewing face masks to give back,” Shelancia Daniel, Founder The Creativity Shell.

Kids from sewing classes at The Creativity Shell are making cloth masks. The goal is to make 500 masks and give them out for free. They also plan on making hospital gowns.

“Their job is to use the skills they have acquired in their classes and to give back to the community when the community is in need,” said Daniel.

The Creativity Shell students are part of the growing community effort since President Donald Trump’s announcement that Americans should consider wearing cloth masks while out in public. But, if you are not wearing your mask the wrong way, you could be doing more harm than good.

Make sure the mask is covering nose and mouth

“The COVID virus is spread by droplets; it’s spread when we cough or sneeze or even talk. A droplet from one person gets transmitted to another person,” said Dr. Alison Haddock, with Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Haddock says she sees mask mistakes. Keep the mask over both your nose and mouth at all times. Dr. Haddock says she sees people moving the mask to talk.

"If you are wearing the mask like this so that it’s only covering your mouth, then you are missing out on an opportunity to block it from transmitting the virus,” she explains. “If you are wearing the mask around your chin and then pulling it up. Bringing it down, that’s a problem too. All of that touching of the mask allows getting droplets from the mask on your hands then transmit them to yourself.”

Don’t take the mask off too soon

You may see people removing their masks once they get in their car. Dr. Haddock advises it’s best to wait until you get in your home.

“I put it on before I leave my house that way I know my hands are totally clean when I put it on,” said Dr. Haddock, “Then when I get home taking it off completely using the ties in the back not touching this part that has been touching my hands my mouth.”

Most important: Don’t touch the mask portion

Try to remove the mask by using the ties in the back and try not to touch the cloth mask portion.

“Once you have been wearing it, the front of the mask is contaminated, or potentially contaminated," she explains. "You want to make sure you are not transmitting any of that around your home.”

Wash your mask in hot water each time you wear it. Also, you can use a bandana or scarf as a face covering if you don’t have a cloth mask. Here are step-by-step instructions for making your own cloth mask.