We all need to cover our nose and mouth when we go into shops or travel on public transport – so what is the difference between a face mask and a face covering?

A face covering is simply that, a piece of fabric that can cover your nose & mouth, allows you to breathe easily and ties behind your head or ears. It can be a scarf or snood, or a homemade fabric mask (see here how to make one) or a shop bought fabric or paper mask.

Medical grade face masks used in the health sector are FFP2, FFP3 or N95 and the government advise that people should use facecoverings instead, so that these remain available to frontline key workers, as there was a global shortage at the start of the pandemic.

If you’ve bought the re-useable fabric face masks or made your own from, you should wash them regularly. Many can go in the washing machine however I’ve found it better if you hand wash them.

The first time I put one in the machine I don’t think all the detergent was rinsed out and when I wore it my face became a little irritated so now I hand wash them all. Leave them to soak for about 10-15 mins in a small amount of detergent and then rinse thoroughly with warm water and then leave to dry.


Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you are able to wash them.

Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

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