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How to wear a face mask

Learn how to correctly put on, wear, and dispose of your face mask.

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Tip on wearing and reusing face masks

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting on or taking off your mask. 
  • Ensure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face. 

  • Refrain from touching the front of your mask while wearing or removing it. 

  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose. 

  • Do not reuse single-use masks. 

  • Wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean, dry place. 

Putting on your mask safely 

  • Before putting on your mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Ensure you are using a new single-use mask or clean cloth mask. Do not reuse single-use masks. Always use a clean and dry cloth mask.
  • Check the mask for defects, such as tears or broken loops.
  • If you are wearing a single-use mask, position the coloured side of the mask outward.
  • If the mask has: 
    • Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear. 

    • Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings in a bow near the nape of your neck. 

    • Dual elastic bands: Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck. Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. 

    • A metallic strip or wire: Mould the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.

  • Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin. Be sure your mask fits snugly.
  • If you have a facial hair or a beard, consider shaving to help the mask fit better.
  • If you wear glasses: 
    • remove your glasses while putting on your mask 

    • tighten the strings (if your mask has ties) 

    • pinch the metallic strip or wire (if your mask one) and press down on your nose 

    • wash your glasses with detergent and water to create a film to prevent fogging 

    • use micropore tape (available at all pharmacies) to tape the mask along the bridge of your nose and cheeks 

    • put a folded tissue across the bridge of your nose, then put your mask on top 

    • consider wearing contacts. 

Wearing your mask safely 

You may use a single-use mask continuously for up to 4 hours, as long as it does not become moist, soiled or damaged. Do not store and reuse single-use masks. 

For each new situation put on a clean single-use or cloth mask. For example, you might wear a mask on public transport until you get to work. You shouldn't reuse the same mask during your journey home. Carry clean masks in a paper or zip-lock bag with you. 

Don’t touch your mask while you are wearing it. If you do touch it, wash or sanitise your hands. 

If your single-use or cloth mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one. 

Don't be a tosser!

There's been an unwelcome rise in disposable masks littering our streets and waterways. 

Don't be a tosser. Always dispose of single-use masks responsibly.

Reusing or disposing of face masks 

  • When removing your mask, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times.
  • Remove your mask outside and away from other people, if possible.
  • Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For masks with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom one first, then the top one.
  • Dispose of single-use masks responsibly in the general rubbish bin. For safety, where possible, put it into a sealed bag before putting it in the bin to ensure others won’t touch it.
  • Don’t put disposable masks in the recycling. Most single-use masks contain soft plastics and cannot be recycled. They can also get caught in recycling equipment and be a hazard to waste management workers.
  • Wash and dry reusable cloth masks after each use. 
    • Store in a plastic or zip-lock bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. 

    • Wash cloth masks in the washing machine  in hot water (between 60°C to 90°C) with other clothes. If washing mask by hand, be sure to wash it thoroughly with soap in hot water. 

    • Lay out flat to dry (in the sun if possible) or put in the dryer.  

    • Store in a clean, dry place.

  • After removing your mask, always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol. 

Video: How to wear a mask correctly

How to wear a mask



Some people in NSW are choosing to use a mask when they are not able to physically distance. Wearing a mask can help prevent you giving COVID-19 to other people.

It's really important though that we use our mask correctly so that we reduce the risk that we're going to be contaminated or spread contamination around us.

The first thing we should do when we're about to put on a mask is to perform hand hygiene. That means giving your hands a really good clean so that you're less likely to take any germs from your hands to your face while you're putting on the mask.

The next thing we do is make sure that we put on the mask by making sure it's the right way up. We make sure that we've got our ear loops ready, then we put the mask on by touching an ear loop taking it across our face and putting it over the ear.

We then need to adjust our mask to make sure that it's comfortable and so that we're not going to keep fiddling with it after we've done it. After we've touched our face, as always, it's a good idea to clean our hands.

When we're ready to take our mask off, because we've got out of that situation where we couldn't physically distance well, we need to be careful about how we take the mask off.

If it is a disposable mask like this one, please don't keep it to reuse it, make sure that you dispose of it.

If it's a cloth mask that you're taking off, you shouldn't wear it again that day. You should put it into a plastic bag, keep it safe so you can wash it at the end of the day. That's why you may need more than one cloth mask.

It's really important to do your hand hygiene before you go to touch your face and that you handle the mask only by the ear loops.


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