How to Wear and Wash Your Mask

Connecticut families are doing their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing masks. While cloth face masks are perfectly fine to use in public spaces like grocery stores or pharmacies, how often should you be disinfecting them?

Cloth Masks

You can make your own cloth mask using a tightly woven cotton fabric or T-shirt. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends making masks with multiple layers of fabric to increase protection. The CDC says one way to achieve multiple layers of protection is to wear a cloth mask over a disposable mask. However, wearing two masks is not necessary if you already have a well-fitting mask with three layers that is worn properly over your nose and mouth.

cloth mask

How to wear a cloth mask:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Put on your mask by holding onto the ear loops.
  3. Make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose.

How to wash a cloth mask:

  1. The CDC recommends washing your cloth mask after every use.
  2. In your washing machine, use regular laundry detergent and the hottest setting possible.
  3. If washing by hand, the CDC recommends using a solution of 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. Soak the mask in the solution for five minutes and then rinse.
  4. Dry your mask using the hottest setting in your dryer or place in the sun to air dry.

If you want to make your own fabric mask, the CDC has a tutorial on their website.

Surgical Masks

A surgical mask is what you will see healthcare providers wearing in clinical settings. The mask is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can help protect others from respiratory droplets.

surgical mask

How to wear a surgical mask:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Put on your mask by holding onto the ear loops.
  3. Pinch the top of the mask over the bridge of your nose to ensure a snug fit and adjust the bottom half of the mask to cover your mouth.

Surgical masks are disposable and if you’re wearing one, you should throw it out after every use.

N95 Respirators

An N95 respirator helps to filter out smaller respiratory droplets than a regular surgical mask. But they have to be fit tested and require a tight seal. In addition, N95 respirators are considered to be an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE) and should be reserved for healthcare workers. 

n95 mask

Masks for Kids

Kids under 2 should not wear a mask. But all other kids who are older will need to wear one in spaces where they can’t stay six feet apart from others. Kids may need a mask that’s a little bit smaller so that it fits their face properly.


How kids should wear masks:

  1. Wash hands thoroughly or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Pick a mask that fits the child’s face properly.
  3. Put on the mask by holding the ear loops.
  4. Make sure the mask is covering the nose and mouth.

If your child is uncomfortable with wearing a mask, start slow. Try just 10 minutes at a time at home, get them involved with picking out their face mask fabric, and explain to them why it’s important to wear one. Learn more about getting kids comfortable with masks.