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How often should you clean a cloth face mask? A doctor weighs in

New info on how coronavirus affects patients
New info on how coronavirus affects patients 06:55

With the CDC's recommendation to wear face masks in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, many people have used cloth masks. But, there are steps that should be taken to ensure you're using those masks correctly.

Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, an internal medicine physician with Sutter Health, said on CBSN Monday that everyone should be wearing masks when they have to leave their home. 

"These should ideally be washed after every use in a washing machine, if possible," she said. 

Ungerleider also said people need to be careful when they remove their masks after use. 

"Be really careful to not touch your eyes, or your nose, or your mouth when you're taking off your mask, and then of course, wash your hands immediately afterward," she said. 

And if the mask gets worn out, it should be replaced, she said. "If you've been wearing your mask for a while and you have holes in it or it's stretched out and it's no longer covering your nose and your mouth, it needs to be thrown away," she said.

Ungerleider also cautioned that "masks alone are not particularly effective in preventing infection." The best way to prevent getting infected or prevent spreading the disease is to stay home, she said.

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