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Use and Care of a Cloth Mask

This information has been reviewed and approved by Rosine Angbanzan, MPH (February 2022)

Watch this video with Marjorie Patricia George, MD on proper use and care of a cloth mask. See the step-by-step instructions below and download a PDF of these instructions.

How to Put the Mask On

  1. cloth maskWash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or alcohol-based sanitizer). Dry your hands with a clean paper towel and throw the paper towel away.

  2. Make sure the exterior side of the mask is facing out, away from your face.

  3. Place the mask on your face with the exterior side facing out and the stiff, bendable edge at the top by your nose. Try to use the ties and avoid touching the inside/outside of the mask.

  4. If the mask has ties, pick up the mask by the ties and tie the upper ties behind your head with a bow. Our mask design at National Jewish has a head loop that you pull to tighten from below the mask.

  5. If the mask has a lower tie, tie the lower ties behind your head with a bow. Our National Jewish mask has a single tie that goes behind the neck. Try to pull the mask tight then tie it in a bow.

  6. Once the mask is in place, use your index finger and thumb to pinch the bendable top edge of the mask around the bridge of your nose.

  7. Make sure the mask is completely secure. Make sure it covers your nose and mouth so that the bottom edge is under your chin 

  8. Wash your hands.


While Wearing the Mask During the Day

  1. Do NOT pull the mask down like one would a scarf on a ski slope. Adjustments should be made using the ties or cord at the neck or on top of the head.

  2. Avoid touching your face even when the mask is in place.

  3. Every time you do touch the mask for any reason, wash your hands before/after touching the mask.


Removing the Mask

  1. Wash your hands before removing the mask.

  2. Do not touch the inside of the mask (the part over nose and mouth). It may be contaminated from your breathing, coughing or sneezing.

  3. Untie or remove the head or ear loops and remove the mask by the straps.

  4. Wash your hands.


Cleaning the Mask

  1. At the end of the day, take the mask off from the straps (not touching the front), loosely knot the ties together, place in a pillowcase or laundry bag to keep the ties with the mask if you have it.

  2. Wash it in the washing machine with hot water and completely dry on medium or high heat.

Download a PDF of these instructions


Please Note: This Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been donated by third parties and may not meet federal requirements in effect prior to the pandemic or during the pandemic. National Jewish Health has taken steps to wash this PPE prior to distribution.

For more information on different types of masks (including highly protective N95 and KN95 respirators), please refer to our masking guide.



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. and your state‚Äôs health department may offer additional guidance.