Your Guide to Masks
- If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
- In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
- In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
- If you are fully vaccinated and have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may need to keep taking steps to protect yourself, like wearing a mask. Talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your health and risks.
- If you are fully vaccinated, see When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on a ferry or the top deck of a bus). CDC recommends that travelers who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distance when traveling.
How to Select
When selecting a mask, there are many choices. Here are some do’s and don’ts.
Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
Completely cover your nose and mouth
Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps
Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape
Are prioritized for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators
Wear a gaiter with two layers, or fold it to make two layers
Not recommended: Evaluation of face shields is ongoing, but effectiveness is unknown at this time.
Find a mask that is made for children to help ensure proper fit
Check to be sure the mask fits snugly over the nose and mouth and under the chin and that there are no gaps around the sides
Do NOT put on children younger than 2 years old
Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. Masks that fit well protect you better. To have a better fit, people with beards can shave their beards or trim their beards close to the face.
Other ways to improve fit
Use a mask fitter or brace.
Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against the face and beard.
For people with beards that are not trimmed close to the face, masks may fit loosely around the beard. However, people with beards should still wear a mask. Masks designed for people with beards are being evaluated, and information will be provided when it becomes available.
How to Wear
Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.
- Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
- Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it. If you have to often touch/adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.
For more information, visit our How to Wear Masks web page.
- Covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
- Fits snugly against the sides of your face.
Around your neck
On your forehead
Under your nose
Only on your nose
On your chin
Dangling from one ear
On your arm
Carefully, untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
Handle only by the ear loops or ties
Fold the outside corners together
Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing
- Include your mask with your regular laundry
- Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask
- Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry
For more information, visit our How to Wash Masks web page.