Contact Us | Call for your FREE in-home assessment 781-245-1880

Masks and How to Properly Use Them

Effective immediately:  All healthcare workers are required to wear masks when interacting with any client.

The benefit and reason to wear ANY mask is to protect YOU the healthcare workers who are un-infected by reducing transmission from their surroundings, including from other staff, and patients who are not yet diagnosed with COVID-19 that may be in a pre-symptomatic stage.

Remember that you should perform hand hygiene prior to putting on or taking off gloves and touching your mask.

Wearing Your Mask (Doning & Doffing)

Wearing your mask properly protects everyone

The following are home care aide practices to use if homemade face masks are worn:

  • Home care aides should wear a clean mask for every visit. If the mask is coughed, sneezed or splashed on during client contact, change the mask following this incident.
  • Used masks should not be shared.
  • Make sure your mask is clean and dry before use. Seal the clean, dry mask in a sealable plastic bag so that it stays clean and dry as you carry it to a visit with your other equipment.  Do not seal a clean mask that is still damp in a plastic bag because it could promote microbial growth on the fabric.
  • If you are wearing gloves, when you need to remove your mask at the end of your visit or when you need to change it during a visit, first wash your gloved hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer to disinfect the gloves, then remove the used mask, and remove the gloves and dispose of them in sealed trash.
  • If the mask will be laundered and reused, it should be stored in a separate bag from the gloves. Place the used mask in a plastic bag, and seal it so you don’t spread contamination. The used mask can be washed in hot water and soap, thoroughly dried, and stored in a clean bag for re-use.

How to Wear a Surgical Mask Correctly

Here are some step-by-step instructions for wearing a surgical mask correctly:
  1. Clean your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, before touching the mask
  2. Hold the mask with the stiff bendable strip on top, and the colored side facing outwards.
  3. If the surgical mask has ear loops – hold the mask by the ear loops, and place a loop around each ear.
  4. If the surgical mask has ties – bring the mask to your nose and place the ties over the crown of your head, and secure by tying them in a bow.
  5. If the surgical mask has elastic bands – bring the mask to your nose and pull the top band over your head and let it rest on the crown of your head, and then pull the bottom strap over your head and let it rest on the nape of your neck.
  6. Mold or pinch the nose strip to conform to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull the bottom of the surgical mask over your mouth and chin.

How To Remove A Surgical Mask Correctly

After use, the mask may be dirty / contaminated and must be removed properly. Please follow these instructions, to avoid infecting yourself while removing your mask :

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, before touching the mask.
  2. AVOID touching the front of the mask, because it may be contaminated. Only touch the ear loops / ear ties / ear bands.
  3. If the surgical mask has ear loops – hold and unhook both ear loops and gently lift the mask away from your face.
  4. If the surgical mask has ties – untie the bottom bow first, followed by the top bow, before pulling the mask away from your face
  5. If the surgical mask has elastic bands – lift the bottom strap over your head first, and then pull the top strap over your head
  6. Holding the mask only by the ear loops / ear ties / ear bands, store your mask in your brown paper bag.
  7. Clean your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitizer again, before touching anything else.

Steps on How to Don an N-95 Mask

1. Cup the mask in your dominate hand, allowing the straps to dangle freely .

2. Place the mask over the nose and mouth by firmly pressing the nose clip on the mask over the nose and tucking the bottom of the mask securely over the chin.

3. Then take the top strap and place it at the top of the head.

4. Next take the bottom strap and place it at the bottom on the neck (do NOT allow the strap to rest on the hair of a ponytail but against the base of the neck).

5. Lastly, perform a seal check by breathing in and out forcefully and feeling for air leakage around the mask.

Steps on How to Doff an N-95 Mask

NOTE: DO NOT touch the front on the mask because it may be contaminated. However, the straps are “clean” and can be touched.

1. Tilt the head slightly forward.

2. Then use your two index fingers and remove the bottom strap first by slowly pulling it over the head.

3. Lastly, remove the top strap, being very careful not to touch the front of the mask.

4. Place mask inside paper bag to ensure it stays clean while allowing the air to circulate the mask.

See below how to clean your N95 mask between uses.

Due to the need to conserve facemasks, DPH supports the extended use of facemasks under the following conditions:

  • The facemask should be removed and discarded if soiled or damaged
  • Health care worker must take care not to touch their facemask. If they touch or adjust their facemask, they must immediately perform hand hygiene.
  • Health care worker should leave the clinical client care area if they need to remove the facemask while in the home.
  • Facemasks should be carefully folded so that the outer surface is held inward and against itself to reduce contact with the outer surface during storage. The folded facemask can be stored between uses in a clean sealable paper bag or breathable container.
  • It is important for you, your client and any one else in the home to remember that wearing a mask is only a part of the larger set of practices and protective clothing, such as gloves, that you and your agency use to protect yourself and your client.
  • Remember that you should perform hand hygiene prior to putting on or taking off gloves and touching your mask.

Caring For Your Masks

The following are home care aide practices to use if homemade face masks are worn:

  • Home care aides should wear a clean mask for every visit. If the mask is coughed, sneezed or splashed on during client contact, change the mask following this incident.
  • Used masks should not be shared.
  • Make sure your mask is clean and dry before use. Seal the clean, dry mask in a sealable plastic bag so that it stays clean and dry as you carry it to a visit with your other equipment.  Do not seal a clean mask that is still damp in a plastic bag because it could promote microbial growth on the fabric.
  • If you are wearing gloves, when you need to remove your mask at the end of your visit or when you need to change it during a visit, first wash your gloved hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer to disinfect the gloves, then remove the used mask, and remove the gloves and dispose of them in sealed trash.
  • If the mask will be laundered and reused, it should be stored in a separate bag from the gloves. Place the used mask in a plastic bag, and seal it so you don’t spread contamination. The used mask can be washed in hot water and soap, thoroughly dried, and stored in a clean bag for re-use.

Surgical masks can be used numerous times before discarding if the mask is NOT visibly contaminated or distorted.
• Carefully store to avoid destroying the shape and consistency of the mask.
• The mask should be stored in a well-ventilated container (i.e., paper bag with handles) with user name & date.
• A disposable mask can be worn for several hours and multiple shifts if not wet or distorted, and not touched while delivering patient care.

To clean your mask - wipe the surface with Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.

NOTE: Storing the mask in a paper bag ensures it stays clean while allowing the air to circulate the mask.

N95 Masks can be used numerous times before discarding if the N95 is NOT visibly contaminated or distorted.
• Carefully store to avoid destroying the shape and consistency of the mask.
• The N95 should be stored in a well-ventilated container (i.e., paper bag with handles) with user name & date.
• A disposable N95 can be worn for several hours and multiple shifts if not wet or distorted, and not touched while delivering patient care.

To clean your mask - wipe the surface with Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.

NOTE: Storing the mask in a paper bag ensures it stays clean while allowing the air to circulate the mask.