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Hygiene expert: How to wear a face mask properly

Cover both the mouth and nose, don't reuse masks without washing, and follow good hand hygiene, experts say.

Kirurginen kasvomaski
Wearing a mask can reduce risk of spreading infections, experts say. Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

Amidst burning discussions on whether Finland should issue an official recommendation on the use of the face of masks, experts emphasise the importance of using masks correctly to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus infections.

Katri Vuori, a nurse from Pori whose responsibilities include disseminating hygiene guidelines, preventing infection and directing staff and patients to follow coronavirus guidance told Yle how to properly use a face mask.

1. Mask must cover both nose and mouth

Whether you use a surgical mouth and nose mask, a fabric mask or even a scarf, the most important thing is to cover both the mouth and nose area to prevent the spread of microbes.

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Kirurginen kasvomaski
Microbes can enter your body through the nose and mouth. Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

2. Do not touch mask with dirty hands

Vuori emphasises the importance of hand hygiene when using the mask. "Do not touch the mask or the mouth and nose area with dirty hands."

Contact with hair, nose and glasses should be avoided. Touching increases the risk of microbes entering the nose or mouth. A new mask should always be put on with clean hands, she said.

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Kirurginen kasvomaski
Good hand hygiene is crucial when handling a mask. Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

3. Clean your mask

If a fabric mask is used, it should be carefully cleaned after each use. The used mask should be washed at 90 degrees temperature in the washing machine. A clean mask is used only once, after which it is either discarded or washed thoroughly.

4. Mask should always remain in place

The most common mistake, according to Vuori, is when people don’t cover their noses with their masks. Another no-no is reusing the same mask after removing it.

"For example, the mask should not be used once again after it is stored away in a pocket," Vuori said.

It is also important to not to turn the mask inside out throughout the duration of use, she said.

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Kirurginen kasvomaski
Masks must not be reused once it is taken off. Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

5. If you move mask away from your face, replace it

According to Vuori, most users are tempted to push the mask away to their forehead or under the chin from time to time.

"If you move the mask from your mouth and nose, you need to take it off and replace it with a new one. Or you risk helping the spread of germs and bugs."

Vuori emphasised that all other health and safety guidelines should also be followed along with mask use."Safe social distancing, good hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette must not be forgotten," Vuori said.

Kirurginen kasvomaski
Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

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