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How to Care for Your Mask

Correct and consistent care for your mask provides the best protection.

How to take off your mask

Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops and fold the outside corners together.

= Man pulling ear loops of cloth mask to take it off and mask with outside corners folded together so mask's inside faces out

Wash or sanitize your hands after removing any mask.

When to change or throw away your mask

If your cloth mask is wet or dirty, remove it and put it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it. This will keep it from spreading germs.

If your cloth mask is dry and clean, you can store it in a breathable bag (like a paper or fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses in the same day.

Cloth masks should be washed at least once a day or as soon as they become wet or dirty.

Disposable face masks should be thrown away after they’re worn once or when they become wet or dirty. Do not continue to wear a wet or dirty mask. Replace it with a dry, clean mask.

Taking off your mask while you eat or drink

If you are taking off your mask to eat or drink outside of your home, you can place it somewhere safe to keep it clean, such as your pocket, purse, or paper bag. After eating, put the mask back on with the same side facing out. Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands again after taking off your mask and after putting your mask back on.

Ways to have better fit and extra protection with masks
Illustration of how to double up masks
Older man wearing a mask fitter
  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
  • Combine either a cloth mask or disposable mask with a fitter or brace
  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a disposable mask where they join the edge of the mask
    • For disposable masks, fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges. (Watch this video for instructions)
  • Use masks that attach behind the neck and head with either elastic bands or ties (instead of ear loops)