How to Wear Your Face Mask and Gloves Properly

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

President Cyril Ramaphosa stated last Thursday that it will be mandatory to wear a face mask when leaving your home. We are already seeing signs outside of stores saying ‘no mask, no entry’. Although some of us have already been wearing them to the shops, many people aren’t aware of how to properly wear them or seem to have a laxed attitude about it. Unfortunately the same goes for gloves.

How To Wear Your Face Masks

The CDC and the SA Government have recommended wearing face masks, they can be homemade or bought as long as they are worn correctly. The use of these masks can help reduce the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve.

  • It shouldn’t hinder your breathing but if it feels snug, it means it’s on right. The CDC advises that masks should fit snugly.
  • The mask should be secured with ties or with ear loops, ensuring that your mouth and nose are covered at all times.
  • The masks should be disposable or washable.
  • Whether you’re wearing a store bought mask or a homemade one they need to have one thing in common. Multiple layers of fabric.
  • You should always wash your hands before putting on your mask.

Here’s How NOT To Wear A Mask

  • The CDC advises against wearing a loose-fitting mask, if it doesn’t feel a bit stuffy then you’re not wearing it properly.
  • If your mask is resting on your chin, exposing your mouth and nose, you’re doing it wrong. You’re not only leaving yourself exposed to the virus but others too if you happen to be asymptomatic.
  • The mask should be covering both your mouth and nose, not just your mouth. The CDC has said that both of them should be covered by a mask to avoid spreading or contracting the virus.
  • You should not be wearing N95 facepiece respirators, those are commonly used in the medical community. Around the world we have seen how many hospitals have been running low on masks while treating COVID-19 patients, let’s not let that happen in South Africa.


Important Tips to Keep In Mind

  • After your mask is on, the CDC recommends to not touch or remove for any reason while you are out (this includes the car). Wait until you have returned home where you can wash it properly or discard of it. It’s important to be cautious to avoid the spread of pathogens from your face to your hands.
  • This one should be an obvious one but wash your hands before, not only just after you’ve worn a mask. We have a guide how to safely shop and sanitise so make sure to check it out.
  • Do not touch the front of the mask when you are taking it off, always use the ties or loops you use to put on the mask to take it off.
  • If you are using a cloth mask that has been made remember to wash it daily and keep it in a clean space.
  • If you live in an apartment building or a shared space, do not remove your mask in a public area such as the stairwells or lifts. Wait until you are inside your home to remove it.
  • Last but not least, remember that face masks can help but there is still no guarantee. Do not fall into a false sense of security. These masks will work better if it is combined with washing hands, sanitising and social distancing.

If You’re Going To Wear Gloves – Do It Right

Dr. Mary E. Schmidt, a board-certified infectious disease specialist, told CNBC  that “People get this idea that they’re protected, and then use gloves to touch themselves or touch their face.”  She went on to say “As soon as those gloves are contaminated, it’s just like having your [bare] hands.”

  • Just like putting on a face mask there is a technique to putting on glove. Before putting on a pair of gloves it’s important to sanitise your hands or wash them. An important note, gloves need to be covering your wrist.
  • If you are wearing gloves this does not give you free license to start touching everything in the shops. You still need to be mindful of the surfaces you touch.
  • Some people have a false sense of security while wearing gloves making it easier for cross contamination. Touching your phone with gloves is a huge no-no. You are touching various germ-riddled surfaces, handles, trolleys, etc to then touch your phone that you will eventually put on your face is counterproductive.

maskThis guide on how to remove gloves by the CDC should not be a friendly suggestion but rather a direct guideline on how to make sure you avoid cross contamination.


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has a toll-free number for the public that deals with Covid-19 related issues or questions: 0800 029 999. The line is operated 24 hours a day.

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