This information has been reviewed and approved by Lisa Maier, MD and Rosine Angbanzan, MPH (February 2022)
The disposable surgical mask is highly recommended for sick people to protect others from cough, sneeze and other body fluid droplets. However, N95 or K95 may provide higher protection. Surgical masks should be thrown away each day or after each visit to health care providers. Wear a well-fitting mask (cloth, surgical, KN95 or N95) when in public indoor settings to protect yourself and others.
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 away or recycle surgical masks after intended use. Both KN95 and N95 masks can be reused or recycled. Wash cloth masks in a laundry bag in hot water, and fully dry on medium/high heat.
The information on our website is medically reviewed and accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, information may have since changed. CDC.gov and your state’s health department may offer additional guidance.