This information has been reviewed and approved by Jared Eddy, MD, Shannon Kasperbauer, MD, and Rosine Angbanzan, MPH (April 2020).
The disposable surgical mask is usually worn by sick people to protect others from cough, sneeze and other body fluid droplets. Surgical masks should be thrown away each day or after each visit to health care providers. Wear a cloth mask when going out in public during social distancing, to protect yourself and others from asymptomatic carriers.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a clean paper towel and throw the paper towel away.
Check surgical masks for any defects and throw away defective masks.
Make sure the mask exterior faces out.
Place mask on your face. If mask has a bendable edge, put it on your nose.
Put one loop around each ear or tie the upper ties behind your head with a bow.
Pinch the bendable top edge of the mask around the bridge of your nose. Tie the lower ties behind your head with a bow.
Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth so that the bottom edge is under your chin.
Wash your hands.
Wash your hands before removing the mask.
Do not touch the part of the mask covering the nose and mouth, it may be contaminated.
Untie or remove the ear loops and remove the mask by the straps.
Cloth masks can be removed and reused during the day. Wash hands, remove mask by the straps, hang or place it away from others.
Throw surgical masks away after intended use (at hospital/clinic). Wash cloth masks in a laundry bag in hot water, and fully dry on medium/high heat.
Learn more about COVID-19 and how it affects specific health conditions in these printable patient education materials.
Download COVID-19 Materials