How Do I Wear a Face Mask Correctly?

May 20, 2020

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  While social distancing still remains important in slowing the spread of COVID-19, face coverings are an important tool in providing an extra layer of protection. Face masks, social distancing and proper hygiene are all steps we can take to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Who Should Not Wear a Face Mask or Cloth Face Covering?

According to the CDC, children under 2 years old, individuals who have trouble breathing or are unconscious, incapacitated or can't remove their face mask without help should NOT wear a face mask.

Disposable Face Masks 

Disposable face masks are intended for one time use and should then be discarded responsibly. Masks should also be removed and replaced if they become dirty or moist. Masks should also only be used by one individual.

How to Correctly Put on a Disposable Face Mask
If instructions are available from the product packaging, follow the instructions. If not, follow these basic steps to putting on a face mask:

  1. Avoid touching the mask with soiled hands. Practice good hand washing hygiene by washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used instead.
  2. Check your face mask for tears, holes, broken loops or other defects.
  3. Typically, the colored side of the mask faces outward.
  4. If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.
  5. If the mask has:
    • Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
    • Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
  1. Bend the metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
  2. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
  3. Mask should fit snugly and cover both your nose and mouth completely.
  4. Avoid touching your face and the mask once secure.

Common Mistakes Made when Wearing a Disposable Mask

  • Touching the face and mask once it has been put on
  • Hanging the mask around your neck or dangling it from one ear when not in use.
  • Reusing masks intended for single-use  

Cloth Face Coverings

The CDC provides instructions on how you can make your own cloth mask or face mask using materials you likely have at home already. 

Per CDC guidelines, cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

For more information, visit the CDC website.


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