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The Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public places to help limit disease transmission. According to the CDC, “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.


Cloth face coverings help limit disease by providing a barrier when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks.


Cloth face coverings are not intended to prevent the wearer from contracting disease. They are only intended to limit the spread of disease.

Cloth face coverings should not be used by children under 2 and should not be worn by anyone with breathing problems or that is incapacitated or unconscious.

Wearing a cloth face covering is just one more step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases and help flatten the reported case curve. Other protective measures to follow include:

  • Staying at Home as Much as Possible
  • Practicing Social Distancing in Public
  • Properly and Frequently Washing Your Hands
  • Disinfecting Commonly Touch Surfaces


Cloth face coverings are different from surgical masks and N95 respirators. Surgical masks create a fluid-resistant barrier and are not designed to seal tightly around the breathing area. They should only be used by designated individuals in high-risk situations. N95 respirators should only be used by someone certified to do so who has undergone proper fit-testing, training and medical evaluations.

Both surgical masks and N95 respirators are considered critical supplies. Due to a nationwide shortage of these supplies, the CDC is urging that both N95 respirators and surgical masks be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders only.

Cloth face coverings can be made, purchased, or even improvised from common household materials. The material used should be machine washable and dried. Cloth face coverings should contain multiple fabric layers but still allow un-restricted breathing.

Wearing and Handling

  • Wash hands before handling the cloth face covering.
  • Secure snugly but comfortably against sides of face.
  • Wash hands before removing the cloth face covering.
  • Do not touch eyes, nose and mouth when removing face covering.
  • Place in clean bag or container between use and covering.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing cloth face covering.

Reuse and Cleaning

  • Wash cloth face covering daily in a washing machine. 
  • Use the warmest appropriate wash setting.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best fabric care.
  • Dry face covering completely before storing.
  • Store face covering in a clean bag or container before uses. 


DIY Cloth Face Covering Instructions


Flyers and Graphics

Cloth Face Mask GuidanceCDC Guidelines


Differences between Cloth Face Covering, Surgical Mask, and N95 Respirators


Differences in Masks


Additional Resources

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (CDC) 

Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission (CDC) 

Campus Guidance on Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Prevent Community Spread of COVID-19 (UC San Diego)

CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19) Landing Page

Outreach at Auburn University/ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Covering Initiative

Auburn University Outreach and Osher Lifelong Learning helps produce 10,000 covering amid COVID-19

Instructions for Making Face Covering (OLLI) 

Instructions for Wear and Care of a Face Covering (OLLI)



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