How to wear a face mask safely

When you wear a face mask, it is important you use it safely.

Important

Never share face masks with other people.

We do not recommend face masks be worn by:

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

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

How to put on a face mask

Clean your hands

Before you put on your face mask, 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 mask

Make sure it is:

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

Put on your face mask

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

How to make your face mask fit tightly

The effectiveness of a face mask can be improved by making sure your mask is tightly fitted to prevent any air gaps between the mask and your face.

Fold your mask in half

Clean or sanitise your hands first. Fold the mask top to bottom.

Tie knots in the ear loops

Tie a knot where the string attaches to the mask and pull tight.

Do this on both sides of the mask.

Fit the mask to your face

Place the face mask over your nose, mouth and chin.

Fit the mask comfortably, but securely, against the side of your face.

Make sure you mould the nose wire to your nose and there are no gaps at the sides.

While wearing a face mask

Avoid touching the front of your mask

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

Illustration showing not to touch your face.

Avoid moving your mask

Do not pull your mask down below your chin.

Illustration showing not to pull your face covering down.

How to remove a face mask

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 mask

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

Use the loops or untie it.

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

Clean or dispose of your mask

Clean your mask

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

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

Illustration of a washing machine.

Dispose of single-use face masks

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

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

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 mask safely.

Last updated: at