Types of N95 Mask and Respirators 2023
N95 Mask Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.
To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
Masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when worn consistently and correctly.
Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others. It is most important to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.
While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitting respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at Increased risk for severe disease.
CDC’s mask recommendations provide information that people can use to improve how well their masks protect them.
How to Care for Your Mask
Disposable masks and cloth masks: Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops and fold the outside corners together.
- For reusable cloth masks
- If your cloth mask is wet or dirty, put it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it. This will keep it from getting moldy.
- If your cloth mask is dry and clean, you can store it in a breathable bag (like a paper or mesh fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses in the same day.
- Cloth masks should be washed at least once a day or as soon as they become wet or dirty. You can either wash and dry your masks by hand or use a washer and dryer.
Taking off your mask while you eat or drink
If you are taking off your mask to eat or drink outside of your home, you can place it somewhere safe to keep it clean, such as your pocket, purse, or paper bag. After eating, put the mask back on with the same side facing out. Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands again after taking off your mask and after putting your mask back on.
When to throw away or change your mask
- Disposable masks should be thrown away after they’re worn once.
- If you use respirators, check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how long they can be worn before they should be thrown away.
- Disposable masks and respirators that become wet or dirty should be thrown away in the trash right away. Do not continue to wear a wet or dirty mask. Replace it with a dry, clean mask.
How to Use Your N95 Mask
N95s must form a seal to the face to work properly. This is especially important for people at increased risk for severe disease. Wearing an N95 can make it harder to breathe. If you have heart or lung problems, talk to your doctor before using an N95.
Some N95s may contain latex in the straps. If you have natural rubber latex allergies, see the manufacturers’ website for information about your specific model.
- It is best to put on your N95 with clean, dry hands.
- Always inspect the N95 for damage before use. If it appears damaged, dirty, or damp, do not use it.
- Hold the N95 in your hand with the nose piece bar (or foam) at your fingertips. If yours does not have a nose piece, use the text written on it to be sure the top end is at your fingertips.
- Place the N95 under your chin with the nose piece bar at the top.
- Pull the top strap over your head, placing it near the crown. Then, pull the bottom strap over and place it at the back of your neck, below your ears. Do not crisscross the straps. Make sure the straps lay flat and are not twisted.
- Place your fingertips from both hands at the top of the nose piece. Press down on both sides of the nose piece to mold it to the shape of your nose.
Remove the N95
After you remove your N95 Mask , wash your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap is not available.
When to Replace Your N95
Do not wash your N95 Mask or put it in the oven or microwave to try to sterilize it. Replace the N95 when the straps are stretched out and it no longer fits snugly against your face or when it becomes wet, dirty, or damaged. Throw it in the trash.