Face Masks 101

Day-to-day hints and tricks about how to wear (and care for) your face masks effectively.

Wearing your face mask

Adjust your face mask so that it fits snugly against your face, leaving no gaps. 

Your mask should always fully cover your nose and chin.


You may be able to adjust the elastics or fastenings of your mask, loosening or tightening them to make the mask more comfortable.

 

If the elastics cannot be adjusted and are too loose, tie knots in them to tighten them. If they are too tight, but cannot be adjusted, consider using ear-savers, headbands with buttons, or cutting the elastic and extending it with more elastic or string. 

If your mask has a wire (all surgical masks will have one), make sure it goes at the top, over the bridge of your nose. Press on it to shape it around your nose and cheekbones. 

 

If your mask has pleats, wear it with the pleats pointing down. If the pleats point up, it can allow dust and viral particulates to gather in the valley of the pleats. 

 

Some masks will have different colours to indicate the inner and outer layers. It will be different for each type of mask, but just do a check when you put your mask on.

Good face mask hygiene

Always wash your hands before and after touching your mask, whether that's putting it on, taking it off, or adjusting it. 

Try not to touch or adjust your mask when you wear it. If you find yourself doing this a lot, consider getting a new mask that fits you well. 

Reusable face masks

Always wash your mask before you wear it for the first time. 

Wash your mask after every use, and don't re-use it in-between washes. 

Ideally, keep a small cloth laundry bag for your used face masks. You may want to keep this close to your front door, in your car, or in your bag (as long as it closes securely). That way, you can dump them straight into their laundry bag and wash the lot at the end of the week. 

Use hot, soapy water to wash your mask, ideally in a washing machine. If you have to hand-wash your masks, ideally use rubber gloves, make the water as hot as is comfortable, and make sure the detergent gets into every bit of the mask.

Most reusable masks are washable at 60 degrees. 

Some masks can be washed at higher temperatures, and even boiled. However, this can tend to degrade the elastic.

Disposable face masks

You should not wash disposable face masks; the act of washing them damages the material that they are made from, causing them to be ineffective.

Dispose of your mask safely, in a bin. If you cannot dispose of it safely where you are, put it in a bag and take it home with you to dispose of there.  

If disposable face masks are not thrown away safely, they can become a biological hazard, and harm the environment. 

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