Coronavirus: how to make and use your own mask

Across the world, the wearing of masks, even handcrafted, is beginning to become widespread. NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

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Faced with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts and politicians are increasingly encouraging the population to equip themselves with “alternative” masks. However, the effectiveness of these protections not being proven, it is imperative to respect certain rules to use them.


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Is wearing an artisan mask effective? This is the question that torments many citizens in this period of pandemic during which industrial masks are becoming rare.

Faced with this shortage , more and more governments and scientists are encouraging the population to wear " alternative " masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus. However, the handmade mask is not a guarantee of security because it does not meet standards, unlike industrial masks.

Having your own "homemade" mask is therefore not enough to be protected from the Covid-19. " There is no scientific proof of the effectiveness of cloth masks, " say in a report the French Society of Sterilization Sciences (SF2S) and that of Hospital Hygiene (SF2H).

Even if the effectiveness of handmade masks remains to be proven, a number of specialists agree that wearing a fabric mask is always better than wearing nothing at all. It could indeed limit the secretions of contaminated people, especially those who are asymptomatic.

The experts are unanimous on one thing, this material must in any case be used in addition to the " barrier gestures " :

  • Wash your hands very regularly (with soap or hydroalcoholic gel).
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue.
  • Use disposable tissues and discard them immediately.
  • Greet without shaking hands and avoid kissing.
  • Keep at least a meter away from other people.

The importance of using your mask well

If used improperly, the handmade mask, like surgical masks and FFP2 , can have the opposite effect and favor the contamination of a person. A certain number of rules must therefore be strictly observed, explains Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg, tobacco specialist, pulmonologist at the University of the Sorbonne and at the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital.

First, it is imperative to wash your hands with soap or hydroalcoholic gel so as not to contaminate the mask before putting it on. In order to wear a mask correctly, it must be hung on both ears, well adjusted to the root of the nose and that there is no air jet on the eyes during a strong exhalation.

Once the mask is properly installed, it should no longer be touched . It is also necessary to change protection after drinking or eating, but also if the mask is wet or if it has been worn for more than four hours.

More simply, it must be changed each time it is touched and for that, it is necessary to remove the mask by holding it by the cords, put it immediately in a closed pouch, or directly in the trash if it is of a paper mask .

Unlike the latter, the fabric mask could be reused as long as it is washed at a minimum temperature of 60 ° C, according to several doctors. SF2S and SF2H do not share this opinion . " It is not possible, according to current knowledge, to determine the effectiveness of washing (type of detergent, washing temperature, etc.) and the maintenance of the performance of reused cloth masks ", they say in their report , evoking the degradation of the tissue caused by the successive washing of the masks. It is therefore not recommended to reuse them more than a few washes.

Make your own mask

To make a fabric mask, the University Hospital Center (CHU) in Grenoble, France, shared a pattern, explaining how to make one yourself with fabric.

The instructions for making a fabric mask .

If it is impossible to make a fabric mask, a tutorial by Professor Daniel Garin, occupational doctor and associate professor at the Val-de-Grâce Armies Training Hospital explains how to make a makeshift single-use mask in paper.

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