• wash your hands with soap and water before putting on and after you’ve finished
  • insert a filter between the fabric layers
    • research shows that a DIY filter can be made from two layers of paper towels and one Layer of tissue paper – cut them as big as your mask or they will not be as effective (K. Kwon, HK Masks)
    • other DIY solutions include coffee filters, Vlieseline, air conditioning filters – always check that you can breathe using these!
    • if purchasing mask filters, check they are effective for smaller particles
  • slide the closed end of the tie string over your head and place it above your ears
    • try to only touch your mask on the side tunnel and not in the middle
  • pull the tie strings so that it is tight against your head, and that your mask puckers along the sides.
    • the mask should stay as tight on your face as possible, as long as it is still comfortable
  • bend and form the wire around your nose
  • slide the tie strings under your ears and tie either at the back of your neck, or bring it up to the top of your head so that it is secure and does not move
  • DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE OR YOUR MASK: in case of accidentally touching the mask, wash your hands with soap and water
  • DO NOT TOUCH THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR MASK: handle it by the side tunnel


  • wash the mask with soap and water for 30+ seconds, rinse, boil for 5 minutes, iron when dry
  • you can also machine wash at 90ºC, but please do not turn your washing machine on for just one mask if you care about the environment
  • hang the mask in a safe, well-ventilated place with as much sunshine as possible
  • use discretion and common sense about washing your mask regularly and never wear it if you think it is not clean
  • studies have shown that COVID-19 stays on textiles for about four hours
  • the virus can be on the outside or, if you are sick, on the inside of your mask, so be wise not to turn your mask into its own infectious product – do NOT let other people touch your mask.
  • CHANGE MASK AND FILTER AFTER 3 HOURS or sooner if mask feels damp (from breathing, sneezing or coughing)
  • Masks are only effective if worn properly, so it fits tight around your face and together with regular hand hygiene, not touching your face, and social distancing.

Do not hoard surgical masks. Leave them for the health care professionals!

Illustration by Alec Barth