Five common mistakes made when wearing a face mask

For some of us, wearing a face mask is second nature. Maybe your job role requires it and donning a mask all day is nothing new.

Remember, what you wear for personal protective equipment while at work varies based on your job role, though all in our facilities must have their faces covered. Read more about what type of face covering you should be wearing and when.

But for others, such as patients and our family members, wearing a mask can feel awkward and maybe a little uncomfortable.

To help everyone adjust to this new normal, we’ve broken down five common mistakes made when wearing a mask (and how to correctly wear a mask instead).

  1. Wearing the mask incorrectly

Just like clothes, masks come in a variety of sizes and type. Everyone is a little bit different, so a mask should fit snugly across the face. It should completely cover the nose and mouth and extend below the chin.

  1. Putting the mask on/removing the mask incorrectly

When removing the mask, take it off by unlooping or untying it from the ears, taking care to avoid touching the front.

  1. Touching the mask too much

Once the mask is on, try to touch it as little as possible. This helps avoid contaminating the front of the mask or hands.  While in the community (such as at a grocery store), adding a face shield can help resist the urge to touch the face.

  1. Pulling down the mask to talk

If someone pulls down their mask or unhooks it from their ears when talking to others, they’re defeating the purpose of wearing a mask. It can take some time to adjust, but it’s important tokeep the mask on the face in the correct position. Again, adding a face shield can help resist this temptation.

  1. Not practicing hand hygiene

Remember the importance of hand hygiene (wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) before putting on a mask and after you remove it.

Need a little help with mask wearing? Check out the video below for a quick reminder on how to put on and remove a face mask.

Download a flyer demonstrating how to correctly wear a face mask (and find more safety content!) on our We Stand for Safety Hub.


  1. Can we please have the above illustrations of the correct way of wearing a mask and incorrect ways on an approved University document to post in patient care areas? We see so many patients/families incorrectly wearing this. It would be great to laminate this and post in waiting areas or exam rooms. Thank you

  2. I wish the general ;public could see this. I see so many folks wearing the masks at half mass. Even in the Cubs/White Sox’s game last evening, one of the coaches in the Sox’s dugout had his mask below his nose. Thanks you for the information!!

    • Someone on the bus today had his mask below his nose AND mouth – meaning he was wearing a chin guard!

  3. Suggestion 1: UIHC do a UIHC sponsored very short TV/radio public service media blitz on proper way to wear and don face mask.

    Suggestion 2: UIHC contact IDOT and ask them to post a series of public service “how to” statements on the interstate highway digital signs that the IDOT can change daily (often used for missing children announcements).

    Suggestion 3: UIHC ask the Nesper sign company in Cedar Rapids to do the same with their digital sign on 380 near the 33rd Avenue exchange.

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