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Double masking: Expert talks effectiveness of wearing two masks and how to do it properly

man wearing mask AP
Posted at 3:00 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 14:10:43-05

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently came out with guidance about "double masking" as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it turns out, two masks may be better than one --but it all depends on what kind of masks you're wearing and if you're wearing them properly.

We asked ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Piyush Gupta about this to see if it was worth it.

"We're pretty strict in our house, so every precaution possible is taken, including double masking," Dr. Gupta explains. "It's about 80-85% effective. Some reports say 90% effective at blocking out COVID...especially if you'll be indoors and you can't distance for more than 10 minutes or in a large group."

But what's the science behind it? It turns out, it involves mostly common sense!

"The masks provide two protections for me. The actual filtration through the mask so the air that's going in and out of the mask is filtered and the second, which is equally as important, is the seal around the mask -- you want to make sure the air doesn't leak around."

But Dr. Gupta warns not all ways of double masking are equal.

"How you do it also matters. You want to wear a cloth mask over a disposable mask. The ideal situation is wearing a disposable mask (one with loops around your ears) and then putting a cloth mask over it and tightening up that cloth mask so you get that snug fit. Two surgical masks, for example, are not more effective, it's not increasing that seal around your mouth."

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at