skip to main content
Main Site Navigation
Top of main content

CDC says tight fitting, two layer masks offer the best protection

CDC says tight fitting, two layer masks offer the best protection

Correctly and consistently wearing a mask can prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air and how many layers it has.

Wearing a mask that fits snuggly can help limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. In lab tests with dummies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found exposure to infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks.

As such, they are updating their guidance on mask wearing for the public and Carle infection prevention expert Casey Benson shares the latest tips and tricks.

The latest recommended practice is double masking or ensuring a double layer mask fits snuggly to prevent air leakage and improve protection performance.

The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face.

Another option to improve a mask’s fit is to knot the ear loops.

“You can easily modify a single use procedure mask by knotting or tying the loops,” Casey Benson, COVID response specialist said. “The sweet spot is for it fit snuggly but not too tight so you restrict your breathing ability.”

The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face.

It’s important to have a properly fitted mask as more places like hospitals, business and public places like airports, planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation require them. 


  • Have two or more layers of a washable, breathable fabric or wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly against your face
  • Wear a mask underneath your winter weather gear like a scarf or ski  masks

Don’t wear masks 

  • Made from fabrics which make it hard to breathe, like vinyl, for example
  • Have exhalation valves or vents 
  • Use medical grade or N95 respirators which are intended for healthcare workers
  • Around your neck or up on your forehead
  • For children under 2 years of age

“The CDC does not recommend masks with exhalation valves because they may not prevent you from spreading germs to others." 

While face shields are growing in popularity, they aren’t a substitution for mask wearing she said.

“Please preserve medical-grade masks and N-95 respirators for healthcare personnel,” Benson said. 

She said while masks are an important layer of protection it’s equally important to follow tried and true illness prevention methods.

“Masks are an important part of our daily health and wellness routine to be sure, but it’s equally important to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, social distance, stay home when you’re sick and get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.”

Categories: Community

Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, mask