IF YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED
CDC has updated its guidance for people who are fully vaccinated. See Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.
IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR SCHOOLS
CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year. Learn more
Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more

Types of Masks

Types of Masks

There are many types of masks you can use to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19. When choosing a mask, choose one that fits snugly. Learn more about how to choose a mask that fits well and offers the best protection.

Cloth Masks

Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics, and many types of cloth masks are available.

Look for

  • Multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric
  • Nose wire
  • Mask should block light when held up to bright light source
mask considerations tightly woven

Do NOT wear

  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents
  • Single layer or masks made of thin fabric that don’t block light
DO NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape

When to wear

  • Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people who don’t live with you.
Wear a mask anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.

2 Ways to have better fit and extra protection

  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
  • Combine a cloth mask with a fitter or brace
A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace

Disposable Masks

Disposable face masks are widely available.

Look for:

  • A description indicating multiple layers of non-woven material
  • Nose wire  
Disposable masks are widely available.

Do NOT wear

  • Masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose
  • If wet or dirty  
Masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose

When to wear

  • Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.
Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.

Ways to have better fit and extra protection

  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
  • A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace
  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask
illustration of how to double up masks

knot and fold

Masks that Meet a Standard

Some masks are designed and tested to ensure they perform at a consistent level to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These masks are labeled to tell you what standard they meet.

Look for masks that are labeled as

  • MEETS ASTM F3502
  • MEETS WORKPLACE PERFORMANCE
  • MEETS WORKPLACE PERFORMANCE PLUS
  • KN95

Do NOT wear

When to wear

How to wear

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wear, store, and clean or dispose of the mask properly.

Image of a mask that meets COVID-19 standards.

For a better fit and additional protection
Taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19

Sometimes, you may need more protection to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19.

For more information on science behind improving how your mask protects you, see Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19.

Prioritize N95 respirators for healthcare workers
Reserve N95 respirators for healthcare workers.

CDC recommends that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators. As N95s become available they can be worn in non-healthcare settings.