Everything You Need To Know About Wearing A Cloth Mask

Plus, how you can make your own or where to buy one.

Kirsten Curtis |

As of Friday 1 May, it will be compulsory for South Africans to wear face masks when they go out in public. Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize explained in a recent press briefing that the purpose of the mask was to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets when speaking, coughing and sneezing.


Triple Layer Washable Masks, Pack of 4, 100% Cotton

R 165


Related: Can You Make Running With A Mask More Comfortable? The Experts Weigh In

Across the globe other countries are practicing similar measures. But just how effective is wearing a cloth mask in preventing the spread of new coronavirus? A 2015 study showed that a cloth mask was less effective in protecting healthcare workers from influenza than medical masks. According to the study fabric holds onto moisture longer than surgical mask, is often reused and filters poorly in comparison to medical masks. While, this 2013 study found that cloth masks should only be used as a last resort as it’s less effective than wearing a medical mask.

So… Should You Still Wear A Cloth Mask?

While there is no evidence to support claims that wearing a cloth mask can offer much protection against the new coronavirus, these researchers still encourage it’s usage arguing that it’s better to take as many precautionary measures as possible.

In a country where proper social distancing and hygiene measures can’t always be adhered to, the extra layer can help slow the spread of the disease. Recent research has also shown that those who have the coronavirus, but are asymptomatic, can still pass along the virus to others. It’s therefore important to wear the cloth mask whether you’re feeling ill or not.

Related: Here’s How Long The Coronavirus Lives On Clothes

What You Should Keep In Mind While Wearing A Cloth Mask

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has emphasised that the wearing of cloth masks does not mean that you should stop practising social distancing and proper hygiene measures.

During his press briefing he outlined measures to help South Africans practice good hygiene while wearing the masks:

  • Avoid touching the mask or your face while you are out.
  • When you get back home, wash the mask with soap and water immediately without using chemicals and wash your hands again.
  • After washing masks they should be ironed or left out in the sun to dry.
  • You should not share your mask with anybody else, and it is preferable that every person has two masks so they can be interchanged during washes.
  • Remember not to handle the inside layer of the mask when taking it off or putting it on.

How To Make Your Own Cloth Mask

Following his briefing, the department of health released two videos to demonstrate how you can make your own cloth mask.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, here’s how you can make it:

If you do have a sewing machine, you can follow these steps:

Related: Washing Your Hands Can Prevent Coronavirus, Here’s The Right Way To Do It

Where You Can Buy A Cloth Mask

If you don’t trust your ability to create a worthy cloth mask, there are several retailers selling masks that you can order instead.

1. Nfayo Products


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Nfayo Products are selling their colourful patterned masks for R35 each, but if you buy a set of five, you pay R30 each.


Nfayo Cotton Mask

R 35


2. The Silk Lady


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You can purchase masks made out of silk from The Silk Lady. The company has a variety of masks, ranging from masks designed for children and teens to adult-sized masks. You can opt for the general mask which is R56 per mask or for added protection, purchase the triple layer mask, which is R184.


General Mask

R 56



3. Mungo


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For a 100% linen mask, order yours from Mungo. The company is selling their masks starting at R200. For every mask purchased, the company will donate one to those who can’t afford it.


100% Linen Mask

R 200


4. The Wren Design


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Besides making you look superhero-cool, Wren have designed masks which are truly mind-blowing. The local brand, founded in 2008, have used creative thinking to make products out of a paper that is stitch-able, durable and practical. They brought the same creativity into mask making, creating origami-styled paper masks that are unlike anything else. The masks have two coatings, making them hydrophobic (water resistant), oleophobic (oil resistant) and anti-microbial (a coating that kills 99% of bacteria). Tried-and-tested by MH Digital Ed Nadim Nyker, these masks have our stamp of approval. What’s more? A percentage of the proceeds of all mask sales goes to UNICEF’s Little Hands Campaign to build hand washing stations in vulnerable and high-density communities in South Africa.


Paper Face Mask (Deco Design)

R 180


5. Rowdy Bags


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Rowdy Bags are selling masks made from a non-woven, polymer fabric with pleats. Each mask is R15.


Basic Face Mask

R 15


6. Ballo


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Ethical goods company Ballo is selling pleated double layered fabric face masks for R150 per mask. Their design allows you to insert a filter into your mask for another layer of protection. For every mask sold, the company will donate one to someone in need.



R 150


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