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Store your face covering properly and wash it regularly to keep it clean. Try to have more than one face covering so that you can easily replace a dirty one with a clean one. Remove your face covering correctly and wash or sanitise your hands after touching a used face covering.

Read about how to use a face covering properly

Storing face coverings

Wet or dirty face coverings

If your face covering is wet or dirty from sweat, saliva, make-up, or anything else, keep it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it. Wash wet or dirty face coverings as soon as possible to stop them from getting mouldy.

Wet face coverings can be hard to breathe through and are less effective than dry masks.

Dry face coverings

You can store your mostly clean face coverings to reuse later on the same day.

Follow the steps below when reusing your clean face covering.

  1. Remove your face covering from behind - do not touch the front of the mask.
  2. Wash or sanitise your hands after touching a used face covering.
  3. Keep it in a dry, breathable bag (like a paper or mesh fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses.
  4. When reusing your face covering, keep the same side facing out.

The more times you handle your face covering without washing it or replacing it, the greater the risk of getting it contaminated.

Eating and drinking

Follow the steps below if you are taking off your face covering to eat or drink.

  1. Do not lower your face covering to eat or drink - take it off completely.
  2. Remove your face covering from behind - do not touch the front of the mask.
  3. Put it somewhere safe to keep it clean, such as your pocket, purse, or paper bag.
  4. Wash or sanitise your hands after removing your face covering.
  5. After eating, put your face covering back on with the same side facing out.
  6. Wash or sanitise your hands again after putting your face covering back on.

Washing your face covering

Wash your cloth face covering whenever it gets dirty or at least daily.

You do not need to sterilise face coverings. Wash them in a washing machine or by hand as you would any other item of clothing.

If using a washing machine:

  • include your face covering with your regular laundry
  • use your regular laundry detergent
  • wash at the recommended setting for the type of fabric

If washing by hand:

  • wash your face covering with water and laundry detergent or soap
  • rinse well with clean water to remove detergent or soap

When to throw out your face covering

Throw out a reusable face covering if 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

Throwing away medical disposable face masks

Throw away medical face masks (disposable face masks) after you wear them once. Do not wash or reuse them.

Follow the advice on how to safely throw away a disposable mask

Related topics

How COVID-19 is spread

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Shopping safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated: 12 March 2021 at 5.50pm

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