Make a respirator yourself: a colorful face mask gives courage in times of coronavirus
The number of people infected with Covid-19 is increasing across Europe. The European countries have long since overtaken China in terms of the number of victims, and Spain and Italy are particularly hard hit. But the contagious disease is also spreading more and more in Germany. Over 47,000 corona cases have been registered nationwide, and 265 of the patients have died from them. The government tries to protect the elderly and the chronically ill. That is why the protective measures introduced are not only absolutely necessary, but show the solidarity of society in the fight against the coronavirus. In view of the situation, more and more people are asking themselves “How can we protect those who need protection the most?” Avoiding curfews, washing hands and contact with other people help. But is a self-sewn face mask also effective against corona? According to studies, most DIY masks can only protect against viruses to a limited extent. Nevertheless, you can make a colorful respirator yourself: in many countries it gives courage and is a sign of solidarity. We explain why this is so and show you step-by-step sewing instructions.
Make a respirator yourself: Why is the DIY face mask enjoying increasing popularity?
In Croatia, designers sew face masks to give courage to the population and as a sign of solidarity. In the United States, volunteers sew mouthguards for health care professionals and staff in retirement homes. In Bulgaria, masks with a special FFP filter are made by children’s clothing companies. Why are more and more people wearing self-made fabric masks when, according to the authorities, they cannot protect against coronavirus??
A respirator made from household items cannot filter the air well enough. This means that smaller particles such as viruses and bacteria can get into the lungs despite the face mask. There are several reasons why you can still wear a cloth mask:
- You can sew a mask from two layers with filters. This mouthguard does not protect you, it protects those around you. It helps prevent smear infections, for example when infected people touch their nose or mouth and then transfer viruses to other surfaces. Although infected people are quarantined at home, there are many cases that are without symptoms. So it is possible that you are infected with the disease yourself but do not know it and infect others with it. That is why it is important not only to rely on a mouthguard, but first and foremost to adhere to the recommended protective measures. Such are: Keep your distance from other people, do not touch your face and disinfect your hands regularly.
- Respirators with cheerful motifs make you feel good and help to overcome anxiety. Psychologists warn that wearing a face mask could create a false sense of security and that other important protective measures such as washing hands could be forgotten.
- A colorful respirator shows solidarity and is a symbol of modern society that cares for the elderly and chronically ill.
Make a respirator yourself: step by step instructions
To make a respirator yourself, you need the following materials:
- 1 piece of colorful fabric 18 cm x 36 cm for the outer layer. First, check whether the fabric is breathable. Boil-proof cotton fabric is ideal as it can be washed at higher temperatures. Silk is also good because it is moisture-repellent.
- 1 piece of solid color fabric for the inner layer (made of cotton, linen or silk)
- Hepa filter for vacuum cleaners (Please only sew the filter after consultation with the manufacturer, family doctor or the local authorities. Always test whether it causes breathing problems!)
- Flat elastic band, 36 cm long
- sewing machine
Choose the fabrics so that they can be washed at at least 90 degrees Celsius and ironed at a higher temperature. Normally, insensitive clothing is ironed at 170 degrees Celsius, which should kill all viruses after a wash cycle at 90 degrees.
How to make the mouthguard:
1. Create a cutting pattern and cut it out. Fold the piece of fabric for the top layer in half so that the wrong side of the fabric is facing you and the short fabric sides are on top of each other. If desired, you can iron the fabric or fix its ends with pins.
2. Fix the pattern with pins and cut the fabric using the pattern. Repeat the process for the second piece of fabric for the inner layer as well. You should now have 2 pieces of the colored fabric (for the outer layer) and 2 pieces of the solid colored fabric.
3. Sew the two colored pieces of fabric together with a straight line within the seam allowance of 1 cm and turn the mask over. Repeat the process and also sew the two single-colored pieces of fabric together. Overcast the edges of the fabric with a zigzag seam to prevent fraying later during the wash cycle.
4. Lay the colorful mask in front of you, the wrong side of the fabric should be facing up. If you wish, you can fix the mask to the work surface with pins. If you want to make a mask with a filter yourself, cut the filter too. Now sew the inner to the outer piece of fabric in a straight line. Cut a small hole in the middle of the plain piece of fabric so that you can take out the filter and replace it later.
5. Now fold the colored fabric around the edge of the single-colored fabric and stitch it firmly. Cut the elastic in two pieces that will serve as headbands. Put the first piece of elastic band through the left hole and the second piece of elastic band through the right hole and sew them up.
6. Tie the ends of the elastic bands together so that you can attach the mask to your ears. To be on the safe side, check whether the finished mask is really breathable. You should be able to breathe easily. If this is not the case, you have to remove the filter and replace it with a different one. But you should be able to breathe easily through the two layers of fabric. Unfortunately, they offer little or no protection at all.
Make and disinfect your own breathing mask
If you make a respirator yourself, you should also disinfect it properly. First of all, we offer you an overview of some rules that you should take into account when wearing the face mask:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before putting on the mask. Only put the mask on with clean hands!
- When you’re outside, don’t touch your face! It helps if you tie your hair in a ponytail.
- Don’t forget to disinfect your hands.
- Do not take the mask off to smoke or to eat.
- Wear the respirator for a maximum of 2 hours. If you’re going to be outside for a long time, consider either taking it off or replacing it with a new one.
- It is best to only remove the mask with clean hands when you are back home.
How to disinfect the mask:
- Wash the mask at 90 degrees in the washing machine. Never wash the mask with household clothes or bed linen.
- If you are using a mask with a filter, discard the filter immediately after removing the mask. It is best to put the filter in a separate plastic bag and then tie the bag together. Never wash the mask together with the filter.
- Iron the mask, insert a new filter and you can use the protective mask again.
Who is the respirator suitable for? Not everyone can wear a respirator. People with chronic cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases, as well as asthmatics and allergy sufferers, should rather avoid it. Children and babies should also not wear self-made breathing masks. There is a risk of suffocation.
Even if you make a respirator yourself, the first thing you should consider the safety precautions of the local authorities. These include: Wash your hands regularly. The first thing you should do when you get home is wash your hands. With clean hands, you should wash your face as well. Liquid soap is best for this. When you go out, disinfect your hands every time you touch a potentially contaminated surface. These include, for example, ATMs, surfaces in supermarkets and doorknobs. Use disinfectants that contain at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face. This is especially true for the mouth and nose area. But also try not to touch your eyes. Do not eat with your hands, such as cookies or chewing gum. Avoid using makeup with dirty hands.