OTTAWA -- Face masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches announced that Ottawa Public Health is mandating the use of masks in indoor public spaces to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ottawa Public Health has tips for washing, re-using, storing and discarding a cloth mask or face covering after using it on its website.

The health unit says masks or face coverings become contaminated, especially when touched by your hands.

Removing the mask:

Ottawa Public Health says, "after washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, remove your mask by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears."

Washing the mask:

If your mask has a removable, non-reusable filter, make sure to remove and throw out the filter before machine washing or hand-washing your mask.

When using a washing machine, Ottawa Public Health says put the cloth mask directly into the washing machine or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you have used it to store your mask.

Wash your hands again with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling your mask.

Wash the masks with other laundry using a hot water cycle.

For hand-washing the cloth face mask, Ottawa Public Health says use laundry detergent and water as hot as you can stand, then dry thoroughly.

If you are discarding damaged or worn out masks, drop them in a lined garbage bin.

Ottawa Public Health says do not leave any discarded masks in places where others can come in contact with them such as shopping carts, public seats, but stops or on the ground.

Reusing your face mask

Ottawa Public Health says cloth masks may be re-used throughout the day, "if not soiled and undamaged."

When removing your face mask, public health says "with clean hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half so that the outer space is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day."

Can I wear my cloth mask all day?

Ottawa Public Health says a mask can be worn all day as long as it does not become damaged, damp or dirty.

"Do not share your mask with others," the health unit says.

"Remove your mask with clean hands when you are safely able to do so and wash your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer."

Storing your face mask during the day

Ottawa Public Health reminds people "do not place your used mask into your pocket."

When reusing a mask, place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day."

Disposable masks

Ottawa Public Health says disposable masks should not be washed, reused or recycled.