How do I safely take off, store, and reapply my mask?

Masks Staying Safe

A: Designate a CLEAN SIDE/DIRTY SIDE for your mask, USE THE STRINGS to put on and take off, and SANITIZE your hands and mask often.

Evidence indicates wearing a mask reduces the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Developing routines around mask wearing will help improve your practice of this useful harm reduction strategy.


The clean side of your mask should always go against your face. The dirty side of your mask should always face the outside world. If both sides of your mask look the same, make a marking on the mask to make it clear which side is clean and which side is dirty.

If you plan on taking your mask off and wearing again, preserve the clean side of your mask by folding it in half so the clean side remains on the inside. Place your mask in a designated space that won’t touch your other stuff like your phone, keys, or tissues. Some people use a small bag or a designated pouch to keep their mask separate. You could lie the mask on a napkin with the dirty side out. The goal is to keep the clean side clean. Additionally, you want to minimize the number of things, specifically your hands, that touch the dirty side of your mask.

*Use the strings*

When handling your mask, do your best to only touch the strings. It’s best not to fiddle with your mask once it is well positioned on your face. You can pull your mask off using the strings and gently fold. You can reapply your mask using the strings and reposition as needed. Touching the outside of your mask happens. It’s OK. If you touch the outside of your mask, be sure to sanitize your hands.


Both your hands and your mask should be cleaned regularly. It’s really easy to touch the outside of your mask. Use hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean when this occurs. Masks also need to be sanitized. Cloth masks should be washed in hot water with soap and dried completely after each outing before using again.

Some Tips

– It’s helpful to have more than one mask

– Put your masks in a convenient place to grab when you go out. Perhaps by your shoes or keys.

– Think about how you will store your mask while you are out if you take it off. Find a system that works for you and your crew.

– Determine a consistent place to put used masks for washing. A mesh laundry bags work well to keep the masks from disappearing to the underworld of mismatched socks.

– Practice makes perfect. Keep wearing those masks!

Additional reading below.

Everything you need to know about masks from Medium

Taking off and putting on your mask

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