‘Knot and Fold’ for Safety: New Mask Fitting Tips from the CDC

Healthcare clinician holding a couple of surgical masks and wearing gloves.

Amid an expanded vaccine rollout, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a number of warnings and reminders about the importance of face masks.

Serving as a “simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others,” masks remain the most effective way to combat the spread of Covid-19 and other airborne viruses. “Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” as the CDC points out.

Yet for masks to get this important job done, they need to be properly fitted and worn. If air is escaping from the top or sides of the mask—even just a little—the entire mask is compromised. (And, perhaps, the entire facility.)

With that in mind, it’s critical that masks are properly fitted and worn. The CDC is now actively promoting more advanced methods of doing just that. Double-masking and taking extra measures to seal off the edges can reduce exposure to the Covid-19 virus by as much as 96%, as per brand new research findings released on February 10, 2021.

Diagram showing how to knot and fold a face mask

From Wires to Knot-and-Fold: 7 Mask Fitting Tips From The CDC

Of course, for hospitals, health centers, nursing and LTC and pretty much any other facility providing patient care, wearing a mask has been mandatory since March 2020. But even here, a better knowledge of fitting can help protect workers and patients alike.
To that end, the CDC offers 7 dos and don’ts for mask fitting and general usage. First, they recommend (1) using a mask that has a nose wire. This is a metal strip on the top of the mask that helps prevent air from escaping.

When it’s necessary to use a cloth or standard disposable mask, the CDC recommends (2) using a mask fitter or brace for a more secure fit. You should also (3) check for any gaps in the fit by cupping your hands around the sides of the mask, and especially at the top, by your eyes. If the fit is good, you should feel warm air pass through the front of the mask only.

Another way to take mask safety to the next level is (4) layering up. Multiple layers mean additional barriers against infection; the CDC recommends wearing a disposable mask under a multi-layered cloth mask: “The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face.” But remember — (5) don’t layer two disposable masks, and (6) don’t combine KN95 masks with any others.

“Only use one KN95 mask at a time.”

Finally, the CDC offers a quick guide to the (7) knot-and-fold method to maximize any 3-play mask’s filtration power. This involves knotting the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask “where they join the edge of the mask.” Then, fold and tuck the extra material under the mask’s edges.

5 Steps to the ‘Knot and Fold’ Mask Fit

  • Fold the mask edge-to-edge, lengthwise.
  • Tie a knot in the ear loop as close to the mask as possible. Repeat on the other side.
  • Make a quick form of the nose piece to help shape the mask to your face.
  • Fold and tuck in unneeded material.
  • Put on the mask, pressing on the nose wire to form a seal.

For a great video representation of the knot-and-fold method of mask fitting, check out this video from UNC Health.

From Mask Fitting to Nurse Staffing, CareerStaff is Here for You

At CareerStaff, we ask all of our facilities and vendors to instruct their staff on proper use of facemasks. As one of America’s leading healthcare staffing and recruitment providers, we take our responsibility of safety seriously. You can read more about our Covid-19 policies here.

Do you manage a healthcare facility? You can find details on our healthcare workforce solutions here.

Are you a health professional seeking new career opportunities? Click here to browse our available healthcare jobs.