How should you wash your face mask to protect against coronavirus?

FILE - A woman wearing a surgical mask uses hand sanitizer. (Photo by Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Americans have been urged to wear face coverings when in public to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.

The CDC is recommending that people wearing cloth face coverings in public places, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, where “other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” The guidance especially applies “in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Here is a Fox News guide to keeping your mask clean:

The CDC is recommending masks “should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.”

The guidance recommended: “A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.”

Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., told TODAY it’s okay to wear a mask multiple times without washing.

He recommended if the mask isn’t dirty that it’s okay to just put it in the weekly wash.

He said: "You shouldn't be using them all that frequently. You're only going out to the pharmacy and supermarket."

The California Department of Public Health recommends frequently washing masks —after each use or daily.

Wash with detergent and hot water; dry on a hot cycle or hot, soapy water.

MORE NEWS: Over 14,500 cases of coronavirus in Florida, death toll surges to 283, health officials say

Viruses ride from person to person on droplets from a sneeze or cough. Those droplets land on hands and other surfaces, where they are touched by others, who then touch their own eyes, noses or mouths.

Masks can block large droplets from a sneeze or cough.

The virus is believed to spread mostly through droplets from coughs or sneezes, and thus the main advice has been to keep your distance — staying 6 feet away — in addition to frequent hand-washing and not touching your face.

“My personal opinion is that that’s probably been an important thing in other countries flattening their curve,” Dr. Otto Yang, a UCLA expert in infectious diseases, said. “If you go to Taiwan or Singapore, everyone’s got a mask on all the time. Healthy or not. Sick or not.”

MORE NEWS: Woman, dad hit with bat in Florida after confronting group of college kids drinking

Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people have been confirmed infected and over 74,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

The latest data suggests that social distancing appears to be working in some countries, and better than expected.

One of the main models on the outbreak, the University of Washington’s, is now projecting about 82,000 U.S. deaths through early August, or 12 percent fewer than previously forecast, with the highest number of daily deaths occurring April 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.