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How to get more from your mask

Two cloth face masks and a surgical mask lying side by side.

Feb. 25, 2021—Your face mask can provide protection against the spread of the coronavirus. But the fit matters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for getting the most from your mask.

Go for a snug fit

The virus spreads mainly through droplets sent into the air by talking, coughing or just breathing. You want to be sure your face mask fits snugly so that droplets don't leak in or out.

To check the fit, cup your hands around the edges of your mask. You should not feel air flowing in and out as you breathe. Now put your hands in front of the mask. You should feel warm air coming from your mouth.

A few ways to improve the fit:

Wear a mask with a nose wire. When fitted to the shape of your nose, it can stop air from leaking out of the top of your mask.

Use a mask fitter or brace. These are devices that can be worn over a disposable mask or a cloth mask to make it fit more tightly.

Knot and tuck. Tie a knot into each ear loop of the mask as close to the edge of the mask as you can. Then fold and tuck the extra material under the knot to close any gaps.

Combine layers of material

A cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric will filter droplets more efficiently than a single-layer mask. All layers should be made from tightly woven but breathable fabric. If you hold the mask up to a light source, you shouldn't see any light coming through.

You might also try doubling up. You can wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask, or you can wear two cloth masks. But don't combine two disposable masks. They aren't designed to fit tightly, and wearing two won't improve that.

Brush up on these other do's and don'ts of cloth face masks.

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