3 May 2020

A cloth face mask, which is used correctly, may reduce the spread of respiratory secretions into the surroundings, which can also reduce the risk of spreading the virus.    

A face mask can spread the virus. If you take off and put on a mask repeatedly, pathogens from the outer surface of the mask and your hands can end up on the inside of the mask and subsequently enter your respiratory tract.  

Poor physical condition, respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular diseases and advanced age can contribute to a person being too weak to use a face mask properly, or their health problems may be exacerbated by the use of a mask.  

Do not push the idea of wearing a mask on anyone. You simply can’t know whether using a face mask will be safe for any given user.   

Do not put the mask on a small child. The mask might cause a risk of suffocation for the child. 

Putting on and removing the face mask must be done carefully in order for a soiled mask to not cause a danger of infection.   

Tips on how to make cloth face masks 

  • Make masks from thin cloth so the mask is not too dense.  If the mask is made from a too dense material, its breathing resistance will be too high, making it impossible for the wearer to breathe through it. Excessive density also leads to excessive levels of carbon dioxide in the air inhaled by the user.  
  • Use one or maximum two layers of cloth. Make sure you can breathe well.
  • Note, that a reusable mask must be made from a material that can be repeatedly washed in 90 degrees or be boiled. A disposable mask can be made out of a disposable material, such as paper tissue.   
  • The mask must cover both the mouth and the nose and stay well on the face. The mask may not be unnecessarily tight on the user’s head.   

How to use a face mask correctly  

  •   Wash your hands before putting on a clean mask.  
  • Don’t touch the face mask while wearing it.   
  •  Don’t drink or eat while using a mask.  
  •  If you touch the surface of the mask during use, wash or disinfect your hands.   
  •  When you take off the mask, only touch the straps. Don’t touch the outer surface of the mask itself.   
  • Wash or disinfect your hands after taking off your mask.   
  • Wash your cloth mask using a hot cycle (minimum 60 °C , but rather 90°C) or boil it for five minutes in water with a small amount of detergent. Rinse and dry the mask.  

 Do not forget to keep distance – the face masks are just an additional precaution 

  Remember always comply with the most important preventive measures:  

  • good hand hygiene  
  • good coughing hygiene  
  • avoid physical contact  
  • avoid touching your face, nose and mouth   

The face masks are not respirators  

Homemade face masks can’t be called respirators or surgical masks because respirators and surgical masks must meet certain requirements related to the verification of the protection offered by them and the safety of their use.   

The requirements are part of our legislation and they are based on EU Regulation 2016/425 on personal protective equipment and EU Regulation 2017/745 on medical devices. The more detailed technical specifications are documented in standards EN 149 and EN 14683.    

Further information: viestinta@ttl.fi

The guidelines of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) are drawn up together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (SMAH) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. We also follow the publications of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), COVID-19 

World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus