A cloth face covering is a material you wear that covers the nose and mouth. Wearing a cloth face covering is recommended in situations where it is difficult to practice social distancing, for example, in shops or on busy public transport. Wearing of cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.
Wearing a cloth face covering in public may reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19
Cloth face coverings may help to stop people who are not aware they have the virus from spreading it.
When to wear a face covering
You may choose to wear a cloth face covering:
- when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult – for example, in shops, shopping centres or public transport
- in an enclosed space with other people
What are face coverings made from
Cloth face coverings are made from materials such as cotton, silk, or linen. You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
Who should not wear a face covering
Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:
- has trouble breathing
- is unconscious or incapacitated
- is unable to remove it without help
- has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering
How to wear a face covering
A cloth face covering should cover the nose and go under the chin and:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include at least 2 layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
How to wash your face covering
Wash daily in a hot wash over 60 degrees with detergent.
If using a washing machine, you should be able to wash and machine dry it without damage or change to shape.
You do not need to sterilise cloth face coverings. Wash it in a washing machine or by hand as you would any other item of clothing.
Wash hands before and after use.
When to throw out your face covering
You should throw out a cloth face covering when it:
- no longer covers the nose and mouth
- has stretched out or damaged ties or straps
- cannot stay on the face
- has holes or tears in the fabric
How to use a face covering properly
- clean your hands properly before you put it on
- practice using it so you are comfortable putting it on and taking it off
- make sure it is made from a fabric you are comfortable wearing
- cover your mouth and nose with it and make sure there are no gaps between your cloth face covering
- tie it securely
- carry unused masks in a sealable clean waterproof bag(for example, a ziplock bag)
- carry a second similar type bag to put used masks in
- touch a mask or face covering while wearing it – if you do, clean your hands properly
- use a damp or wet medical mask or reuse a medical mask
- share masks
- do not lower your mask to speak, eat and smoke or vape – if you need to uncover your nose or mouth take the mask off and put it in the bag for used masks
- do not discard masks in public places
Taking off a face covering
To take it off properly:
- remove it from behind – do not touch the front of the mask
- do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
- clean your hands properly
- put disposable masks in a bin straight away
If you wear a face covering, you should still do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
- washing your hands properly and often
- covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
- not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- social distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)