Wear and Care of Face Coverings

Face coverings are an additional measure we can take to help protect each other from our respiratory droplets and they are required to be worn in commercial establishments in Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph (with exceptions). Other important measures we can take to slow the spread of infection is to maintain physical distancing, stick to your social circles, gather outside instead of inside, wash your hands frequently including before and after you put on your face covering, and do not touch your face.

What can be used as a face covering

Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must cover the mouth, nose and chin and provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:

  • a medical mask (while medical masks count as face coverings in this order, Public Health recommends that they be saved for health care workers and that members of the public wear non-medical face coverings),
  • a non-medical mask (cloth, homemade etc.),
  • or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth.


Face coverings should:

  • Allow for easy breathing.
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops.
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying.
  • Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty.
  • Be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment.
  • Be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen).
  • Be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth and chin without gaping.


  • Do wear a non-medical mask or face covering to protect others from your respiratory droplets.
  • Do ensure the face covering is free of tears or holes.
  • Do ensure the face covering is made of at least 2 layers of fabric.
  • Do wash your face covering with hot, soapy water between wearing or when it becomes damp or dirty.
  • Do store your face covering in a clean paper bag until you wear it again.
  • Do clean surfaces that may have come in contact with a dirty mask.


  • Do not use masks on children under 2 or those who cannot breathe with one on, including for medical reasons.
  • Do not reuse face coverings that are moist, dirty or damaged.
  • Do not touch your face covering while wearing it.
  • Do not hang the face covering from your nose or ears.
  • Do not wear your face covering only over your mouth with nose exposed.
  • Do not share your face covering.
  • Do not remove your face covering to talk to someone.
  • Do not wear a mask with exhalation valves or vents

PHAC How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering

How to safely put on and remove a face covering

Putting on a face covering:

  • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) before putting on your face covering.
  • Only touch the ear loops or ties to put the mask on.
  • Fit it over your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Fit as close to the sides of your face as possible, making sure you can breathe easily.
  • Do not touch or adjust the mask while wearing.

Removing a face covering:

  • Touching only the ties or loops, remove the face covering without touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Fold the outside corners together.
  • Place the face covering in the washing machine if possible or inside a clean paper bag.
  • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) after removing.

This poster provides a helpful visual - How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering

Wash and care of cloth face coverings

Machine Washing:

  • Your face covering can be washed with your regular laundry.
  • Use your usual laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.

Washing by hand:

According to the CDC you should:

  • Prepare a bleach solution of 1/3rd cup household bleach (not clothing bleach) per gallon of room temperature water.
  • Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.


  • Face covering should be completely dry before wearing.
  • Machine dry on the highest heat setting, or
  • Lay flat, or
  • Hang to dry in direct sunlight.


  • After wearing, it is recommended to wash the face covering, however, if you plan to wear it again, carefully fold the mask touching only the loops or ties, and place in a clean paper bag or breathable container.

Non-medical disposable masks

  • Non-medical masks that cannot be washed should be disposed of properly in a lined garbage bin, and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled.
  • Do not leave used masks in shopping carts or on the ground where other people may come into contact with them.

Who should not wear a face covering

  • Children under the age of two years.
  • Children under the age of five years (either chronologically or developmentally) who refuse to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
  • People whose ability to breathe in any way is inhibited by the face covering.
  • People that have any other medical reason they cannot wear a face covering safely, such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.

Other Face Covering Resources