How to safely wear a facemask

homemade cloth mask
KK Cheng

In the current lockdown, social distancing is of prime importance. But when shopping at supermarkets or when essential workers travel to work in public transport, mask wearing would be useful in reducing the risk for everyone. As we consider the strategy of exit from lockdown, mass masking could be an important public health measure that would help alleviating the risk arising from the relaxation of social distancing.

Professor KK Cheng, Director of the Institute of Applied Health Research at BHP founder-member the University of Birmingham

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mass masking with cloth masks is an important and sustainable addition to social distancing and hand hygiene. It should be seen as an altruistic act rather than self-protection. In actively involving every citizen, it is a symbol of social solidarity in our fight against the disease.

When wearing a mask, there is a correct way to put on and remove your mask to maintain protection. These infographics summarise the advice, and other languages can be found at the end of the page. Please share freely both on and offline – please tag @BHPComms in any social media posts. 

Coronavirus – how to wear a mask

Masks help reduce droplets containing the virus released when you breathe, speak or cough, and may also lower the chance of droplets entering through your mouth and nose if worn correctly. 

Of homemade masks, 100% cotton masks block the most viral particles, according to research comparing various homemade material masks. 

Wool or knitted masks or scarves do not work as the gaps are too large. 

Surgical masks provide greater protection, but our NHS and care home staff need these. 

To wear a mask correctly:

      • Wash your hands
      • Place clean mask over nose and mouth
      • Do not remove to speak to people, cough or sneeze
      • Do not touch the mask until you are ready to remove it at home

To remove your mask:

      • Wash your hands
      • Remove by the straps
      • Bin or wash at 60c or above
      • Wash your hands again

Remember – we must still follow government and WHO guidelines at all times: maintain social distancing of 2m at all times. 

If you wear gloves, don’t touch your face or mask while wearing them. Wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off, and before removing your mask.