How to Properly Wear and Remove Your Face Mask

how to properly wear and remove your face mask

When it comes to face masks, not taking the proper precautions for both wear and removal can render personal protective equipment as ineffective. Not only that, but it can put those around you at risk. If Canadians commit to wearing their masks properly in public, it may “drastically reduce the chance of infection”, according to Montreal-based MD Dr. Christopher Labos.

As one of Canada’s largest PPE manufacturers, The Canadian Shield is committed to offering products of superior quality while providing the education consumers need to make the right decisions for proper purchase and wear of PPE. 

How to Wear Your Mask

Step 1: Always clean your hands thoroughly before putting your mask on. Wet your hands with clear, running water, and lather your hands with soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. When soap is not available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol.

How to properly lather and wash your hands before putting on a face mask.

Step 2: Holding your mask by the ear loops or head strap, put it on and ensure that it covers your nose, mouth and chin. Your mask should fit snugly against your face with no open gaps. If your mask has a nose bridge stiffener, adhere it to your nose by pressing down for a comfortable fit.

How to properly don your face mask without touching the front of the mask.

Note: If your mask is pleated, ensure that the masks are pleated downward.

When wearing procedural masks, the coloured side should face outward while the white side faces inward.

Step 3: Ensure that you can breathe and talk comfortably through your mask.

Your face mask should be tight to your face without gaps.

If you happen to touch the front of your mask while wearing it, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

How to Remove Your Mask

Step 1: To remove your mask, hold the head strap or ear loops pull forward, being careful not to touch the front of the mask. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing and wash your hands carefully immediately after taking the mask off.

How to properly remove your face mask without touching your face.

Step 2
: If your mask is disposable, discard immediately in a closed bin. If your mask is reusable, put it directly into the washing machine and follow the washing instructions given by your mask provider. Allow it to dry completely before wearing it again.

Dispose of your used face mask immediately in a lined garbage bin.

Step 3
: Wet your hands with clear, running water, and lather your hands with soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. When soap is not available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

How to properly wash your hands after removing your face mask.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing PPE

The way that you wear your personal protective equipment is just as important as the personal protective equipment you choose to wear. For additional tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of your PPE, reference our “do’s and don’ts of wearing PPE” guidelines below, or download our printable PDF here.

The Do’s:

  • Wear a mask in public settings when around those who do not live in your household, especially when it may be difficult to maintain six feet of distance
  • Do practice good hand hygiene while you are wearing the face covering
  • Do avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often
  • Do change the face covering or face mask when it gets slightly wet or dirty
  • Do opt for a triple-layer mask for maximum protection

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t share face coverings or masks with others
  • Don’t place a mask on a child under the age of two years or on anyone unable to remove without assistance, or who has trouble breathing
  • Don’t place the mask under your chin, as any viral particles on your skin may come in contact with your mouth when placing the mask back on
  • Don’t place your mask around your neck or up on your forehead
  • Don’t use a mask that is visibly damaged or soiled
  • Don’t reuse a mask that is designed to be disposed of after first use
  • According to CDC guidelines, do not use masks with an exhalation vent or valve.

This resource has been created in line with the recommendations for use of personal protective equipment outlined by the Government of Canada as of December 2020. For the most recent recommendations, please visit