How to Keep Glasses From Fogging Up With a Face Mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a face mask or a cloth face covering when in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But those who wear glasses may find that wearing a face mask fogs them up, making it difficult to see.

In 2011, the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published a report on how to keep glasses from fogging up, as the issue was affecting health care workers. Now, as more members of the public are wearing face masks, the issue is even more widespread.

Glasses mist up when wearing a face mask as the mask directs the air breathed out upwards, where it comes into contact with the lenses of the glasses. The warm water vapor content condenses on the cooler surface of the lens, forming tiny droplets.

However, there are steps you can take to keep your glasses from fogging up with a face mask, from cleaning techniques to using a tissue as a barrier, according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

Washing Glasses with Soapy Water

The report published in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England suggested washing glasses with soapy water to prevent them from getting foggy. According to the report: "Immediately before wearing a face mask, wash the spectacles with soapy water and shake off the excess.

"Then, let the spectacles air dry or gently dry off the lenses with a soft tissue before putting them back on. Now the spectacle lenses should not mist up when the face mask is worn."

The report explains that the soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces surface tension, causing the water molecules to spread evenly into a transparent layer.

Man Face Mask Glasses
A man wears a surgical face mask in Cardiff city centre on March 8, 2020, in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Matthew Horwood/Getty

Anti-fog spray

Alternatively, you could spray your lenses with anti-fog spray, like the spray used by some swimmers to prevent their goggles from becoming misty. Like soapy water, the anti-fog spray will prevent condensation, which causes glasses to fog up.

However, some anti-fog sprays can cause irritation, so be sure to research various sprays before purchasing. If an anti-fog spray causes irritation, stop using it immediately.

Make a mask with a flexible nose

As the CDC recommends that the public wear a cloth mask, and have provided guides on how to make them yourself, this idea is any easy technique that can be incorporated into a DIY mask.

Use items like bobby pins, paper clips or pipe cleaners in the mask to make sure it fits around your nose, which will limit the amount of hot air exiting the mask upwards. Sew the flexible item into the mask securely, ensuring that it cannot scratch your skin.

Fold down your face mask

For masks without flexible metal noses, one method to try is folding down the top quarter of the face mask to allow more room for the air to escape before it meets your glasses.

However, be aware that folding down the mask reduces the area of your face that is covered.

Add a folded tissue to the top of your mask

Finally, another idea to try is placing a folded tissue at the top of your mask and against your nose. To avoid adjusting the issue and having to touch your face, try using a piece of tape to keep it secure. The tissue should absorb some of the air making it less likely for your glasses to get foggy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.