How to wear a mask

Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan explains how to wear a mask properly to ensure it is effective.


Hi, I'm Alison McMillan, Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer. 

If you do decide to wear a mask you need to know how to wear it properly, to make sure it is effective.

It needs to protect you, and the people near you, from airborne droplets that could spread the virus.

Before putting on the mask, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser.

Secure the mask ties in the middle of the back of your head and neck, or slip the elastics over your ears.  

Make sure it covers your nose and mouth.

Fix the flexible band to the bridge of your nose with the mask sitting snugly to your face and below your chin. 

While you’re wearing a mask, do not touch the front or allow it to hang around your neck. This includes when eating or drinking.

If you do touch the mask, wash your hands immediately.

If your mask gets wet or is damaged, it can no longer do its job, so replace it.

When it’s time to remove the mask, use the ties or elastics and be careful not to touch the front of the mask.

Single-use masks should not be reused, but discarded immediately after use.

And then of course please hygiene your hands again.

A face mask is not a substitute for the precautions we know prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • staying at home if you’re unwell
  • that physical distancing  – staying 1.5 metres away from others
  • frequently hygiening your hands, and
  • cough and respiratory etiquette.
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This video includes information on:

  • washing hands before putting the mask on
  • positioning the mask on your face
  • avoiding touching the mask while wearing it
  • when to replace a mask
  • how to remove a mask correctly.

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