Make a mouthguard mask with a filter yourself: Which household items are best suited for a breathing mask?
There is currently a lot of information on the subject of mouth protection. Since the coronavirus spread in Europe, it has been talked about again and again. The confusion is great, because under a breathing mask as well as the special FFP masks and the surgical face mask are called. Even homemade alternatives are available online in numerous shops. Whether and how well these variants actually protect is controversial. We try to clarify the question and explain to you how you can make a face mask with a filter from household items yourself. After the swine flu, scientists from the University of Cambridge carried out a study and checked whether self-made respirators can really protect against infection.
Mouthguard mask with filter: What types of breathing masks are there?
Before we explain how you can make a face mask with a filter from household items yourself, let's take a closer look at the different types of mask. This is very important because each mask type is used for different purposes. There are three types of masks.
1. The first are the breathing masks made of fleece, which are worn by the doctors in hospitals during an operation. The mouth-nose protection masks consist of three layers: the inner one feels pleasant, the middle one filters the fine particles in the air, which also means viruses and bacteria, the outer one has a liquid-repellent effect. They do not protect the medical professionals, but the patient from infection with viruses and bacteria. With regard to the corona virus, these unique face mask masks are worn without a filter by sick people. If the infected person coughs or sneezes, the mask catches the droplets and prevents other people from becoming infected. Depending on the manufacturer, these masks should be changed regularly. If the one-time surgical mask is moistened by our breath or cough, it can no longer effectively protect the others. So, the protective masks don't protect healthy people. Then why was the population in China obliged to wear such protective masks? Theoretically, if all protective masks are actually worn, the spread of the Covid-19 can be slowed down. Since there are supposedly many infected people without symptoms that could infect others, this protective measure could really make sense. The authorities in Europe and Germany advise against this. Because it really doesn't help if half or even 80% of the population wears such a mouthguard. There are now studies that people who wear a breathing mask may develop a false sense of security. Since you have to get used to wearing a protective mask for the first time, you often touch your face at the beginning. This can lead to a smear infection.
2. The FFP face mask with filter are made of a special material and equipped with a valve. They prevent viruses like Covid-19 from getting through. That is why they are mainly worn by medical staff in hospitals. Therefore, they are currently considered to be an effective protective measure in close contact with infected people. These masks are also worn for a certain period of time, which is specified by the manufacturer or by the local authorities. Then they have to be exchanged for new ones. The majority of FFP masks are for multiple use, which means that they can be disinfected or sterilized.
3. There is the third variant: Self-sewn face mask with filter made from household items. It is said to perform the same function as the surgical mask, namely to prevent people who are already infected from infecting others. Nevertheless, health experts warn that in most cases these masks cannot provide effective protection. According to EU standards, the mouthguard should consist of three layers, the middle one is called the “filter layer”. The majority of breathing masks are sewn from one layer of fabric, without a filter.
Others, such as the city council in Essen, use self-made masks. A DIY guide for a mouth-nose protective mask has been compiled on the community's website. If a mouthguard is missing or is auctioned off at high prices on the Internet, there are DIY variants. However, they are not certified according to EU standards and are therefore more of an aid and not an effective mouthguard. Homemade breathing masks can be useful in the following cases:
- When you go shopping and want to protect your people from infection.
- If everyone around you wears a mask, you could reduce the spread of a potential infection in your own household.
- When wearing a breathing mask makes you feel good. It may not always be effective against viruses, but it can help with anxiety.
A homemade face mask with filter cannot replace other protective measures. You should not visit your grandparents even with a breathing mask, as there is a risk of infection. You should also not rely on the mask to effectively protect you against coronavirus and neglect important hygiene measures such as hand washing. Even if you wear a face mask, try not to touch your face. This way, smear infections can be avoided.
Caution! Children and babies are not allowed to wear a self-made mouthguard !! As a rule, children are only allowed to wear certified mouth protection after consultation with the pediatrician, but there is a risk of suffocation in babies.
Make mouthguard mask with filter yourself: Which household materials are suitable for this?
As already mentioned, a face mask with filter consists of three layers. If you want to make a breathing mask yourself, the following household items are suitable for the first and third layers:
- Tea towels made of linen
- Cotton blend T-shirts
- T-shirts and blouses made of cotton (but no knitwear and sweaters!)
- Antibacterial pillows
- Scarves and scarves
- Cotton pillow
- Silk bed linen
According to the study, T-shirts and tea towels made of linen are best suited for the production of breathing masks. This is because these household items are breathable. Compared to surgical masks, T-shirts leave 3%, linen 11% and single-layer pillows – 28% more air. Two-layer antibacterial pillows leave 4% less air than surgical masks. The two materials are not moisture-repellent, which means that you have to make several masks and should change the mask every 2 hours.
Sewing breathing mask: What role do the filters play?
A certified breathing mask does not let viruses or bacteria pass through. Homemade mouthguards are not certified. Why do we need filters when there is scientific evidence that most household items can only filter small particles to a limited extent and are unsuitable as protection against coronavirus? The DIY breathing masks cannot filter the air, but they can protect against smear infections. A mask that is only made of fabric quickly becomes wet with our breath and is no longer effective. However, filters from household items can help prevent a smear infection.
These materials are suitable as filters:
- Vacuum cleaners or Hepa filters that can trap particles with a diameter of 0.10 pm or smaller.
- Sebo filter bags
- Kitchen paper
- Dry wet wipes
Our tip: Always test in advance whether you can really breathe easily through the air mask. If this is not the case, it is better not to wear a face mask. For safety, you can also inform the local authorities, the manufacturer or supplier and your family doctor whether the selected filter is harmful to health or not. There are currently no studies available, so you should always seek advice in advance for safety. Allergy sufferers or people with asthma should avoid the self-made mouthguard for safety.
Sew breathing mask: Instructions
If you want to sew a breathing mask yourself, you will find two patterns and examples here. You need fabric for the first and third layers and a filter of your choice. If you sew the breathing mask yourself, you should make sure that it fits your face shape. The two pattern guides that we offer are fairly simple and well suited even for beginners.
We recommend that you also consult the local authorities or your family doctor. In many cities, the authorities also provide free sewing patterns and explain which filters are suitable and which – not. Your family doctor can best assess whether the selected substances and filters are really not harmful to your health and whether you can use the materials.
For whom is a self-made breathing mask not suitable?
- Babies and toddlers
- Allergy sufferers
- People with asthma
- People with lung disease or with cardiovascular diseases
On the study by the University of Cambridge
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