How to Take Off a Face Mask

A mask that covers your nose and mouth prevents you from sharing tiny droplets with others in close proximity when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or talk. Your mask keeps you from spreading your germs to others, and to some degree protects you from others’ germs as well. However, any benefit you gain from wearing a mask is lessened if you don’t take it off properly!

How to Take Off a Face Mask

1 To prevent further contamination, disinfect your hands before you touch your mask or bring your hands close to your face. Either wash them with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

2 The front of your mask is contaminated. When you remove it, only touch the part of your face covering that goes around your ears or around the back of your head.

3 Grasp the backs of both ear loops at the same time and pull them back to loosen them, then pull them over your ears. Continue the motion to pull the mask down and away from your face.

4 If you have a disposable mask, drop it into the trash as soon as you take it off. If there’s not a trash can nearby, store it in a paper bag or a closed zippered bag until you have the opportunity to throw it away. Do not throw it on the ground. For cloth face coverings, store them in a bag until you’re ready to wash them.

5 After you’ve thrown your mask away or folded it for washing, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands in soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Even if you didn’t touch the front of the mask, you may still have particles on your hands.

Wearing Your Face Covering Correctly

1 Use soap and warm water for 20 seconds to thoroughly wash your hands. If you aren’t able to wash your hands, use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer to disinfect them before touching your mask.

2 Some disposable masks have a piece of plastic sewn into the edge of the mask. Others have a metal strip on the outside of the mask. Press this stiff edge firmly around your nose to create a seal.

3 Avoid touching the mask itself as you put it on. Hold the ear loops or straps to put the mask on and adjust it so that it fits over your nose and mouth and hugs your chin.

4 If you have a face covering with ear loops, you may need to adjust them so that the face covering is snug on the sides. It won’t be as effective if it hangs loose and open on the sides of your face.

5 You may have seen people pull their face covering down around their neck or lift it over their nose. However, this can allow germs on the outside of your face covering to come in contact with your nose and mouth.

6 If you’re using reusable cloth face coverings, you typically need at least 2. If you wear your face covering every day for extended periods of time, it might be wise to invest in 5-7 so you have one for each day of the week.

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