For Healthcare Providers

Thank you for visiting our page – we are excited to share how to use our design for use by any health care facility in need of an alternative for unavailable PPE for their employees.  Please read this document carefully.  Our recommendations are based on the small amount of literature available on homemade masks (see references at the end of the page).

Please clear use of these masks with your administration and infection control.  This is purely a volunteer effort and it is up to each institution to decide if they would like to use these masks for their employees.

N-95 respirators have the highest level of protection against microparticles, blocking >95% of respiratory pathogens, and are recommended for healthcare personnel that interface with COVID when there exists the potential for respiratory aerosolization, such as intubation or bronchoscopy ( Surgical and other disposable masks are considered the second choice.  Unfortunately, supplies of PPE, including masks, may be low during the COVID 19 epidemic.  Therefore, there is considerable interest in using cloth or homemade masks.

In order to use the masks as intended, you will need:
  • Hospital laundering or autoclave sterilization of the masks prior to use. The masks were made by volunteers in an uncontrolled environment.  They have been placed in bags at the site of production and then sent on to your facility.  They should be processed by your hospital prior to use.
  • We recommend the use of mesh laundry bags to prevent tangling of the mask cords.
  • Supplies to make the nose wire portion of the mask (click here for directions).
  • A workforce of employees or volunteers to assemble the nose wires which can be inserted either by your workforce, or by the user (see document).
  • Supply and insert filter paper – we suggest one-layer steri-wrap paper (used to wrap sterile instrument packs while being autoclaved and known to have small enough filtration for virus particles). The paper should be cut to a size of 6” x 5” to be inserted between the two layers of the mask.  These filters can be changed as often as you like.
Purpose of this project:

In the face of medical mask shortages, this project is designed to provide a degree of respiratory protection for ALL healthcare workers, acknowledging that commercial masks provided by healthcare facilities is likely a superior option.  Homemade masks cannot technically be considered PPE as their efficacy is unknown.

Optimization of this project was achieved by standardizing the following

  1. Material choice  - dense weave, 100% cotton or cotton poly blend, doubled fabric (2), steri-paper for autoclaving can achieve filtration efficiency comparable to commonly used FDA cleared surgical masks and dust masks (1)
  2. Proper fit - standardized size with nose wire and adjustable ties for reduced leakage  (2)
  3. Consideration of Compliance - Something that will be worn as it is comfortable and breathable (2)

Please see the Summary of Evidence for our design located here: