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WHO: When and How to Use Non-Medical Fabric Masks

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

The use of face masks is an essential part of the measures that can limit the spread of Covid-19 according to healthcare experts. Masks ensure the highest level of protection only when used properly. Failing to follow the instructions for the use of the respective type of mask will compromise safety and all other protective efforts.



Consult the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to use non-medical masks, also known as fabric or barrier masks. Since they are reusable, proper disinfection and storage is also crucial.


Who should use fabric masks?


Fabric masks can be used by the general public where there are many people infected with Covid-19 in the community and physical distancing of at least one meter (3.3 feet) cannot be achieved.


Preferably three layers of fabric


A three-layer structure ensures the maximum protection:

· Outer layer (water-resistant)

· Inner layer (water absorbent)

· Mid layer (filter)


How to put on a fabric mask


Before putting on the mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand-rub or with soap and water. When using alcohol-based hand-rub, clean your hands for 20 to 30 seconds. If you use soap and water, wash your hands for at least 40 to 60 seconds. Do not wear masks that are dirty or damaged.


Put the mask on your face, covering your nose, mouth and chin. Don’t touch the mask while wearing it.


How to take off a fabric mask


Clean your hands before touching the mask. Take off the mask by removing the straps from behind your ears or head, slightly leaning forward. Don’t touch the front of the mask. Clean your hands after taking off the mask.


How to store and clean your mask


Wash the mask with soap or detergent, preferably with hot water, at least once a day. If the mask is not damp or soiled and you plan to use it again, put it in a plastic resealable bag.


Source: WHO

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