How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings are an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with every day preventive actions and social distancing in public settings.

  • CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.

Evidence for Effectiveness of Cloth Face Coverings

woman wearing face covering, with a detail showing how the cloth barrier helps to contain respiratory droplets that she exhales

Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of cloth face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.



Wear your Face Covering Correctly

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
fitting a cloth facemask to your face. The mask should cover from below your chin to above your nose, and be pinched to fit the bridge of your nose snugly.

Use the Face Covering to Protect Others

  • Wear a face covering to help protect others in case you’re infected but don’t have symptoms
  • Wear the covering in public settings when around people outside of your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • Don’t put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead
  • Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands

Follow Everyday Health Habits

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Take Off Your Cloth Face Covering Carefully, When You’re Home

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings)
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
  • Who should NOT use cloth face coverings: children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Cloth face coverings are NOT surgical masks or N95 respirators. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.