How to Properly Wear a Face Mask

Posted by Steve Reble on

Okay, you've got yourself a face mask... now what?

I know what you're thinking:

"you just put it on and out you go, right?"

Not quite. Fortunately for us, as soon as we started our 'buy one <> donate one' campaign, Tabitha - a customer who is a family doctor - reached out and made us promise to tell everyone how to properly use them because as she said: "While it seems simple, it's exceedingly hard to do...".

So here's a great guide from the New York Times, by Tara Parker-Pope, "How NOT to Wear a Mask", April 8th, 2020, (Illustrations by Eleni Kalorkot).

  1. Always wash your hands before and after wearing a mask.
  2. Use the ties or loops to put your mask on and pull it off.
  3. Don’t touch the front of the mask when you take it off.
  4. For apartment dwellers, put the mask on and remove it while inside your home. Elevators and stairwells can be high-contamination areas.
  5. Wash and dry your cloth mask daily and keep it in a clean, dry place.
  6. Don’t have a false sense of security.

Masks offer limited protection, and work better when combined with hand washing and social distancing. “It’s not that one excludes the other,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. “They compound the effects of the other.”

And here's what our customer 'Dr. Tabitha' had to say from her personal experience:

"Have you worn a mask for an entire day out? Or even for a few hours to run errands?

Once you put that mask on your clean face, it absolutely must remain there until you are prepared to take it off for good and wash it at home. Seems simple, but it is exceedingly hard to do....

One walk through an airport or a grocery store for me and I see masks down around people’s neck, on their forehead, behind their head, in their hands, on their lap while they eat...only to go right back over their mouth moments later, simply tracking germs all over their body and giving them a nice little ride right over their mouth.

It is extremely challenging to wear a mask, even as a physician who wears them often and understands the importance, I am so often tempted to touch or readjust my mask if wearing one, so it is entirely understandable that the general public would feel this too."


So with that in mind, here's how - according to that same New York Times Article - you should NOT wear a mask (again, Illustrations by Eleni Kalorkot)



So there you have it, now the next time you absolutely have to go out, do it with the knowledge of how your actions - even if you feel healthy - can help flatten the curve of this nasty virus.

Want to join our buy one <> donate one mask project?  



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  • Great advice. Thank you.
    Ordered masks on 4/11 haven’t received yet.

    Andrea Mueller on
  • Wondering about spraying alcohol on front of blue masks (cloth like?) then placin in the sun. Touching only strings?

    Christine Garcia on
  • Thank you. Good advice. Seems like this should be obvious to people!

    joanne lindberg on
  • My niece is a nurse and she has told us how hard it is to get through her shift without even a sip of water because once the mask is on, it has stay on properly until there’s a chance to take it off correctly, dispose of correctly (which for us in home shelter means getting it into the home washtub with warm/hot water and detergent), then wash hands properly, and then when whatever task is done, wash hands thoroughly and then put on clean mask using the side straps only, tightening to the bridge of the nose, and then get back to work. Another job difficulty for the hardworking healthcare workers that is also hard on their own personal health. And for everyone I believe if you’re going to be out for a while and have lunch, you probably need a fresh mask sealed in plastic, and a safe place to store the worn mask until you get home to clean it and let it dry before use again. Zip lock bags? Hard on us trying to avoid plastic. Or maybe some other kind of bag or maybe a steal container with a sealed lid that can be more easily washed with hot soapy water, that can be cleaned thoroughly before re-use? This is harder than it sounds.

    Juliet on
  • Thank you so much for the great tips! Leaves me wondering how people manage lunches or even drinking fluids when they are on shifts? Would the recommendation be for bringing multiple masks? Also I was wondering if you have any idea when our masks are going to arrive? I ordered on the day you launched this initiative.

    Allison Geist on
  • Ordered masks April 9 have not received yet

    Joanne FOote on
  • This is great advice and very helpful. We’re all on a learning curve here, aren’t we? I appreciate all you’re doing!Thank you!

    Lynne Woodley on
  • Thanks for excellent advice. Haven’t received masks yet. 😬😷

    Jane Quinn on
  • What do you do when you eat? When I go back to the office I’ll be required to wear a mask. Do I bring 2 masks and switch to the fresh one after lunch (after washing hands and face)?

    Jan on
  • Most people don’t follow this advice but perhaps some protection is better than none. I still think it’s best to stay far away from others. We will have to wear masks in NYC now so I am expecting mine soon!

    Julie H. on

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