What does the World Health Organisation (WHO) say about fabric face masks?

World health organisation guidance on using non-medical fabric face masks

On 5 June 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its interim guidance on the use of masks in the context of Covid-19.  

A copy of the English version of the guidance is available here

When should fabric face masks be used?

The World Health Organisation guidance states that non-medical masks, made of woven fabrics such as cloth, and/or non-woven fabrics, should only be considered for source control (used by infected persons) in community settings and not for prevention.

They said that fabric masks can be used ad-hoc for specific activities (such as while on public transport when physical distancing cannot be maintained), and their use should always be accompanied by frequent hand hygiene and physical distancing.

How many layers should a fabric face mask have?

The World Health Organisation guidance states that a minimum of 3 fabric layers should be used.

With tightly woven materials, as the number of layers increase, the breathability is reduced. A quick check for breathability should be performed
by attempting to breathe, through the mouth, and through the
multiple layers. 

What type of fabric should be used for a non-medical mask?

The World Health Organisation guidance is that the ideal combination of material for non-medical masks should include three layers as follows:

  1. an innermost layer of a hydrophilic material (e.g. cotton or cotton blends);
  2. an outermost layer made of hydrophobic material (e.g. polypropylene, polyester, or their blends); and 
  3. a middle hydrophobic layer of synthetic non-woven material such as polyproplylene or a cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets. 

What shape should a fabric mask be?

The World Health Organisation guidance states that a fabric face mask should include a flat-fold or duckbill designed to fit closely over the nose, cheeks and chin of the wearer.

When the edges of the mask are not close to the face and shift, for example, when speaking, internal/external air penetrates through the edges of the mask rather than being filtered through the fabric. Leaks where unfiltered air moves in and out of the mask may be attributed to the size and shape of the mask.

Masks for Change Fabric Masks 

All masks stocked in our online store adhere to the above World Health Organisation fabric mask requirements. 

We only show what is already in stock and ship within 1 business day of your order, from Melbourne, Australia.

Click here to shop our range


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