- Wash hands with soap and water or with hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
- Inspect the mask for obvious holes or tears on the front and back.
- Identify the top of the mask, which will contain a stiff, bendable edge intended to mold to your nose.
- Identify the front of the mask. Face this away from you, with the white side against your face.
- Follow these steps, depending on the type of mask you have:
If your mask has ear loops: Hold it by the ear loops and wrap around each ear.
If your mask has bands: Hold the mask in one hand with the nosepiece on top, allowing headbands to hang below your hands. Place the mask at the nose level and pull the top strap over to the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head to the nape of your neck. Mold the stiff edge against your nose.
If your mask has ties: Take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and tie a bow at the nape of your neck. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
To remove any mask, wash your hands first, then remove the ties behind your ears or head and dispose of immediately, without touching the mask’s surface. Wash your hands again.
- Mold the bendable metallic upper strip (nose bridge) to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
- Be sure the mask fits snugly.
USA Masks are made of non-woven fabric, at 20 to 25 grams per square meter in density. We use three layers of material, a melt-blown polymer (usually polycarbonate, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, or polyester). Masks that are used for dust protection and non-surgical masks can be made of cloth.
- The outer layer repels water, blood, and other body fluids
- The middle layer filters certain pathogens
- The inner layer absorbs moisture and sweat from exhaled air
You should wear a mask any time you are in public, especially indoors or in places in which social distancing might be difficult.
If it’s too loose and leaves gaps between the mask and your skin, try this:
- Fold it in half lengthwise
- Tie a knot in each elastic band, down to the edge of the mask
- Unfold each side one at a time
- Flip the inside of the mask next to the knot inside, and allow the two corners to overlap
- Loop elastic bands over your ears
- Form-fit adjustable top edge to your nose
- Pull the bottom of the mask down below your chin
If it’s too tight:
- Try stretching the elastic band a few times before trying it on again
- Wrap each elastic band around a surface that stretches it, such as a wide jar lid. Leave it for 10-20 minutes, and try again. Try wrapping it around a surface again if it’s still too tight.
Facial hair that extends beyond the edges of the mask can render it less effective. Facial hairstyles that can be contained in the mask - such as a goatee, most mustaches, sideburns, and soul patch - don’t affect the mask’s effectiveness.
Multiple uses of one disposable mask aren’t recommended. It’s best to dispose of the mask when you’re done using it, using care not to touch the outer surface. If a mask becomes damp or damaged during use, it’s best to replace it. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the mask.
Yes. See our pricing page for details.
Masks and respirators both cover a wearer’s nose and mouth, but they differ in several aspects.
Masks are loose-fitting and might not provide full protection from breathing in airborne pathogens, such as viruses.
- Face masks (non-surgical masks) might not provide protection from fluids or might not filter particles, which is necessary to protect against pathogens, such as viruses. They are not for surgical use and are not considered personal protective equipment.
- Surgical masks are fluid-resistant, disposable, and loose-fitting devices that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the immediate environment. They are for use in surgical settings and do not provide full protection from inhalation of airborne pathogens, such as viruses.
Respirators are personal protective equipment that tightly fit the face and filter airborne particles to protect healthcare workers. They provide a higher level of protection against viruses and bacteria when properly fit-tested.
This CDC infographic explains the differences between surgical masks and N95 respirators.
Comparing Surgical Masks and Surgical N95 Respirators
The FDA regulates surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators differently based on their intended use.
A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. These are often referred to as face masks, although not all face masks are regulated as surgical masks. Note that the edges of the mask are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.
An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed for a close facial fit and efficient filtration of airborne particles. Note that the edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. Surgical N95 respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs), often referred to as N95s.
The similarities among surgical masks and surgical N95s are:
- They are tested for fluid resistance, filtration efficiency (particulate filtration efficiency and bacterial filtration efficiency), flammability, and biocompatibility.
- They should not be shared or reused.