Following the steps below will ensure that you are using your high-efficiency masks correctly and keeping you and everyone else safe.

Before putting on your high-efficiency mask

  1. Wash your hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alternatively, if soap and water are not easily accessible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Ensure your mask is not damaged: if it is, do not use it and get a new one. 


Putting on your high-efficiency mask (donning)

  1. Hold the mask in your hands, with the nosepiece at your fingertips.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and ensure that there are no gaps between your face and the mask due to facial hair, hair, glasses etc.
  3. Place the strap over your head and allow it to rest at the top back of your head. If you have a second strap, place the bottom strap around your neck and below your ears. Do not crisscross straps.
  4. If your mask has a metal nose clip, use your two index fingers to mold the metal nose clip to fit the shape of your nose.
  5. Adjust the mask and check the seals to ensure that your mask is on properly. You could also use lanyards to let the mask hang on our neck between the use; in doing so, you don’t need to touch and store the mask.

Removing your high-efficiency mask (doffing)

  1. Do not touch the front of your mask as it may be contaminated. Instead, remove the mask from the behind, ensuring you are only touching the straps. Likewise, a paper towel can be used to grab the front of the mask when taking it off.
  2. Store your reusable mask in a breathable, non-contaminated space, such as a paper bag or container, allowing enough time for SARS-CoV-2 viral particles to “die-off” during storage (e.g. 7-14 days). Again, a new, clean paper towel can be used to put the mask inside and to remove from the paper bag or container, as it will prevent you from touching the mask at all during storage.
  3. Wash your hands.

You should try to keep the inside of your mask free from any contamination whatsoever. This is not just to prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus particles from contaminating the inside of your masks but to prevent the accumulation of bacteria as well. To avoid this, never touch the inner layer of your mask. Also, be sure to frequently decontaminate your masks, and remove and store them adequately.

Decontaminate Between Uses

Reusable masks need to be decontaminated between uses. This can be achieved through special equipment or by leaving the mask in a closed, non-airtight container (like a paper bag) long enough for the viral particles to die (depending on room ambience, 7-14 days should suffice). Please note disposable high-efficiency respirators are intended for single-use only and cannot be safely decontaminated. Please see our page on decontamination for information concerning how to store and decontaminate both types of masks.

The proper blockage of the virus is important, but the virus can be transmitted if it is not properly decontaminated. Please learn about the proper decontamination.