Masks: What you need to know

Why should we wear masks?                              

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African government have enforced wearing cloth/fabric face masks.  A cloth/fabric face mask is not intended to protect the wearer but could prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to those around them.

Please take note that that the recommended cloth/fabric face masks are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical practitioners.

A fabric face mask should not be placed on children under the age of 2 years, anyone who is struggling to breathe, incapacitated, unconscious or unable to remove the mask independently.


 How do masks decrease the risk of covid-19 spreading?

Masks reduce airborne transmission. Infected particles are released during breathing, speaking, coughing and sneezing.  By wearing a mask, the risk for expelling infected particles is decreased.

Fabric face masks should always be used in combination with other hygienic methods of prevention (washing hands, social distancing etc.)




How to wash fabric masks?

According to the WHO and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), cloth/fabric masks must be washed before first use and after every use.  You should always wash your mask when it is soiled or dirty.

Thus, they recommend that each person has at least two masks – one in use and another either in the wash or ready for use.

Machine wash:  temperature above 60 degrees is recommended. The mask may be washed with other laundry items.  Use normal detergent.

Hand wash:  use warm soapy water and soak for 5 minutes.  Rinse with cool water.

Drying masks:

  • Hang in direct sunlight OR
  • Tumble dry on the highest temperature setting

Iron your mask after it has dried.

Remember to remove any filters before every wash and replace before next use or wash.  Then re-use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step-by-step guide to wear a fabric mask

  1. Wash your hands before touching your mask.
  2. Inspect the mask to see if it is dirty or damaged and DO NOT wear it if it is.
  3. Cover your mouth, chin and nose with the cloth part of the mask at all times.
  4. Adjust the elastics to fit around your head or ears and make sure the mask has a snug fit on your face – with no gaps between your skin and the mask.
  5. Avoid touching the mask or your face at all times.
  6. Wash your hands before removing the mask.
  7. Remove the mask by only touching the elastics behind your head or ears and pull the mask away from your face.
  8. Store the mask in a clean, dry bag if you plan on using it again, or pop it into the wash to be cleaned, at least once a day.
  9. Wash your hands again after handling the mask.


  • Do not wear a mask that is dirty or damaged.
  • Do not wear a mask that is too loose on your face.
  • Do not wear your mask under your nose or around your neck.
  • Do not remove your mask if you are around people and cannot maintain a distance of 1m from others.
  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • VISORS do not replace masks. Visors simply protect you from oncoming respiratory droplets – they do not stop the spread of your own respiratory droplets. If wearing a visor, a mask needs to be worn at all times.