How to Properly Wear an N95 Mask: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re wondering how to wear an N95 mask, you’re not alone. With the ongoing pandemic, wearing a mask has become an essential part of our daily routine. N95 masks are considered the gold standard for protection against COVID-19, as they filter out 95% of airborne particles. However, wearing an N95 mask incorrectly can reduce its effectiveness and put you at risk.

I have personally worn N95 masks during the pandemic and can attest that they can be uncomfortable and tricky to wear correctly. But with the right techniques, you can ensure a snug fit and maximum protection. In this article, I will share some tips on how to properly wear an N95 mask and address some common mistakes to avoid. By following these guidelines, you can help protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.

Why Wear an N95 Mask?

As someone who cares about their health and the health of those around me, I choose to wear an N95 mask in certain situations. N95 masks are designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including large and small particles. This makes them highly effective at preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19.

When I wear an N95 mask, I am not only protecting myself, but also those around me. These masks are especially important for healthcare workers and others who are at increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases. By wearing an N95 mask, I am doing my part to help prevent the spread of illness and protect vulnerable individuals in my community.

It is important to note that N95 masks should be used in conjunction with other preventative measures, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. While wearing an N95 mask can significantly reduce the risk of respiratory illness, it is not a foolproof solution. However, when used correctly and in combination with other preventative measures, N95 masks can be an effective tool in the fight against infectious diseases.

How to Choose an N95 Mask

When it comes to choosing an N95 mask, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you are getting a mask that will provide the best protection for you:

1. Look for NIOSH approval: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is responsible for certifying respirators, including N95 masks. Look for a mask that is NIOSH-approved to ensure that it meets the necessary safety standards.

2. Check for a proper fit: A proper fit is essential for an N95 mask to be effective. Look for a mask that has adjustable straps to ensure a secure fit around your nose and mouth. Make sure the mask forms a tight seal against your face, with no gaps or leaks.

3. Consider the type of work you will be doing: Different types of work require different levels of protection. If you will be working with hazardous chemicals or airborne particles, look for a mask with a higher level of protection, such as an N99 or N100 mask.

4. Choose a reputable brand: Not all N95 masks are created equal. Choose a reputable brand that has a proven track record of producing high-quality masks that meet safety standards. Avoid purchasing masks from unknown or unverified sources.

5. Check the expiration date: N95 masks have a limited lifespan and can lose their effectiveness over time. Check the expiration date on the mask before purchasing to ensure that it has not expired.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose an N95 mask that will provide the best protection for you in your work environment.

How to Properly Wear an N95 Mask

Wearing an N95 mask properly is crucial to ensure its effectiveness in protecting you from airborne particles. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Wash Your Hands

Before putting on your N95 mask, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This will help prevent any germs or bacteria on your hands from transferring to the mask or your face.

Step 2: Put on the Mask

Hold the N95 mask in your hand with the nosepiece at your fingertips. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, with the nosepiece facing upwards. Secure the top strap over your head, placing it near the crown, and the bottom strap at the back of your neck, below your ears. Make sure the straps lay flat and are not twisted.

Step 3: Adjust the Nosepiece

Pinch the nosepiece with both hands, molding it to the shape of your nose. This will help prevent any air from leaking through the top of the mask. Make sure the mask fits snugly against your face without any gaps.

Step 4: Check for Leakage

Once the mask is properly secured, perform a seal-check to ensure there are no leaks. Cover the front of the mask with your hands and exhale sharply. If air leaks out from the edges of the mask, readjust the straps and nosepiece until there are no leaks.

Remember to avoid touching the mask while wearing it and to wash your hands thoroughly before and after removing it. It is recommended to dispose of the mask after each use, or if it becomes damaged or soiled.

How to Remove an N95 Mask

Removing an N95 mask can be just as important as putting it on correctly. Here are the steps I take to safely remove my N95 mask:

Step 1: Wash Your Hands

Before removing your mask, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Step 2: Remove the Mask

Grasp the bottom strap of the mask with one hand and pull it over your head, then do the same with the top strap. Avoid touching the front of the mask as it may be contaminated. Discard the mask immediately after removing it and do not reuse it.

Step 3: Discard the Mask

Place the used mask in a closed plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Remember, it is important to always follow proper procedures when removing your N95 mask to avoid contamination and potential exposure to the virus.


Wearing an N95 mask is an effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. It is important to make sure the mask fits properly and is worn correctly to maximize its effectiveness.

Remember to always wash your hands before putting on and taking off the mask, and avoid touching the mask while wearing it. It is recommended to replace the mask after each use.

While N95 masks are the most protective, it is important to note that they should be reserved for healthcare workers and those who are at high risk of exposure. Surgical masks and cloth masks are still effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and should be worn in situations where N95 masks are not necessary.

Stay informed and up-to-date on the latest guidelines and recommendations from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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