How to Properly Wear a Face Mask: A Beginner’s Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and interact with each other. With the outbreak of coronavirus, the demand for face masks has risen rapidly, and it has now become an essential part of our daily life. When used appropriately, face masks can help slow the spread of the virus and keep you and the people around you safe and healthy. But the real question is, do we know how to wear a face mask properly? In this beginner’s guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about how to properly wear a face mask.

Why Wearing a Face Mask is Important?

The primary purpose of wearing a face mask is to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, which can be produced when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. This is particularly important in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in crowded public areas or when you are in close proximity to others. Face masks prevent these droplets from entering the air and infecting others. Therefore, wearing a face mask is not only essential for protecting yourself but also for protecting the people around you.

Types of Face Masks

Before we jump into the proper way of wearing a face mask, let’s take a quick look at the different types of masks available:

Cloth Masks

Cloth masks are made of a variety of materials and are washable and reusable. They are not as effective as surgical or N95 masks, but offer better protection than a no-mask at all. They are comfortable to wear and can be personalized to one’s taste.

Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are loose-fitting, disposable masks that are intended to protect the wearer from large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily fluids. They are more effective than cloth masks and are commonly used by healthcare professionals in close-contact settings.

N95 Respirator Masks

N95 masks are designed to protect the wearer from small airborne particles that can be inhaled. They are tight-fitting and must be properly fitted to the face to work effectively. They are mostly used in healthcare settings and need to be disposed of after use.

How to Properly Wear a Face Mask

To get the full benefits of wearing a mask, it is essential to wear it properly. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Clean Your Hands

Before putting on a face mask, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alternatively, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Step 2: Identify the Top and Bottom of Your Mask

Most face masks have a top and bottom. The top should be positioned on the bridge of your nose, while the bottom should cover your chin. If your mask has a metal strip, it should be on the top and molded to the shape of your nose.

Step 3: Secure the Mask

Secure your mask by tying it behind your head or looping it around your ears. Ensure it is snug over your nose and mouth, with no gaps between your face and the mask.

Step 4: Adjust the Mask

Adjust the mask to fit your face by pinching the metal strip to mold it to the shape of your nose. If you are using an ear-loop mask, pull the loops over your ears to achieve a secure fit.

Step 5: Check for Gaps

Check for gaps between your face and the mask. Adjust the mask if necessary to ensure there are no gaps. If your mask has a nose wire, mold it to the shape of your nose for a better seal.

Step 6: Avoid Touching Your Mask

Avoid touching your mask while wearing it, as this can transfer germs to your hands. If you need to touch your mask, clean your hands first.

Step 7: Removing Your Mask

To remove your mask, untie it from behind your head or remove the ear loops. Avoid touching the front of the mask when removing it. Discard the mask immediately or place it in a washable bag for later washing. Clean your hands immediately after removing the mask.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when wearing a face mask:

Mistake 1: Wearing a Mask Below Your Nose

Wearing a mask below your nose defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. It is important to keep both your nose and mouth covered.

Mistake 2: Reusing Disposable Masks

Disposable masks should be disposed of after every use. Reusing them can increase the risk of infection.

Mistake 3: Wearing a Mask Inside Out

It is essential to wear your mask with the correct side facing outward. Most masks have a colored side and a white side. The colored side should face out.


Wearing a face mask is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to protect yourself and the people around you. By following the proper guidelines for wearing a mask, you will significantly slow the spread of COVID-19. Remember to wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and wear a mask whenever you are in a crowded public place. Stay safe and healthy!

Most Common Questions and Their Answers

  • What is a face mask?
    A face mask is a covering that fits over your nose and mouth to protect you and others from respiratory droplets.
  • What are the different types of face masks?
    The different types of face masks include cloth masks, surgical masks, and N95 respirator masks.
  • What is the correct way to wear a face mask?
    To wear a face mask properly, wash your hands, identify the top and bottom of the mask, secure it, adjust the fit, check for gaps, and avoid touching it while wearing it.
  • How often should I wash my cloth mask?
    Cloth masks should be washed after every use.
  • Are face masks effective in preventing COVID-19?
    Yes, when used appropriately, face masks can help slow the spread of COVID-19.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Use Masks to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. Retrieved from
  • World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: When and How to Use Masks. Retrieved from

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