How to wear a face covering safely

When you wear a face covering, it is important you use it safely. This advice applies to both bought and handmade face coverings.

Important

Never share face coverings with other people.

We do not recommend face coverings be worn by:

  • young children or people who could not remove them without assistance
  • people who have trouble breathing.

Do not re-use a mask once it has become damp or after you have used it already that day.

How to put on a face covering

Clean your hands

Before you put on your face covering, clean and dry your hands. Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.
Illustration of someone washing their hands.

Check your face covering

Make sure it is:

  • clean
  • dry
  • not damaged.
Illustration of someone checking their face covering.

Put on your face covering

Place the face covering over your nose and mouth, then secure it with ties or ear loops. The face covering should:

  • fully cover your nose, mouth and chin
  • fit comfortably, but securely, against the side of your face
  • allow you to breathe easily.
Illustration of someone putting on their face covering.

Clean your hands again

Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.
Illustration of someone washing their hands.

While wearing a face covering

Avoid touching the front of your face covering

If you touch your face or the front of your face covering, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.

Illustration showing not to touch your face covering.

Avoid touching your face

If you touch your face or the front of your face covering, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.

Illustration showing not to touch your face.

Avoid moving your face covering

Do not pull your face covering down below your chin.

Illustration showing not to pull your face covering down.

How to remove a face covering

Clean your hands

Clean and dry your hands. Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.
Illustration of someone washing their hands.

Remove your face covering

Take your face covering off from behind and pull it away from your face.

Use the loops or untie it.

Do not touch the front of the face covering, and be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Illustration of someone removing their face covering.

Clean or dispose of your face covering

Clean your face covering

Clean cloth face coverings by washing them with detergent in hot water. You can do it either by hand or in a washing machine.

Dry the face covering completely before you use it again. Do not use a damp face covering.

Illustration of a washing machine.

Dispose of single-use face coverings

Put it in a rubbish bin, or in a bag and throw it out. Do not put face coverings in the recycling.

Do not re-use or try to disinfect single-use face coverings.

Illustration of someone putting dirty single-use face covering in the bin.

Clean your hands again

Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.
Illustration of someone washing their hands.

Summary video

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a video that summarises how to wear a face covering safely.

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