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Mouthguard: Use and wear properly

Basically: Even if you wear mouth and nose protection, all other hygiene rules must still be observed, such as keeping your distance from other people and regular hand washing.

Video: mouth and nose protection - tips for correct use

Important when doing it yourself

According to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), tightly woven fabrics are better suited for everyday masks than lightly woven fabrics - but you should be able to breathe naturally underneath. If you want to make or sew a mouth-nose protection yourself, the material should be tested beforehand to determine whether it is sufficiently air-permeable so as not to hinder breathing. To do this, place the fabric over your mouth and nose and seal the sides with your hands. Are you getting enough air with normal breathing? Then the material is suitable. If you use rubber bands with self-sewn mouth and nose protection, you should make sure that they are also boil-proof. This is noted on the packaging for boil-proof goods.


The mouth and nose protection should always be touched with clean, washed hands, as it has to be placed correctly on the face.

If possible, you should only touch it on the outside, not on the inside - this is often white when you buy medical mouth and nose protection. If there is a metal bracket, it should go up, on the bridge of the nose.

If you only want to put on the cover on site, you should carry it in a plastic bag instead of your trouser pocket - or at least in a pocket that you don't usually reach into, advises Peter Walger. The spokesman for the board of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene emphasizes: "The inside must be protected." It is best to know the situation in which you have to wear it - and then keep it on all the time.

Put on mouth and nose protection

Place the protection over the mouth and nose and adjust the nasal clip (if available) on the bridge of the nose so that the mouth and nose protection fits as comfortably and tightly as possible. For most people, the correct height is roughly where you would wear glasses on your nose.
Slide your fingers backwards along the upper edge of the mouth-nose protection so that it does not slip and slide the rubber bands (ear hooks) behind your ears or tie the ties behind your head at the top.
If the mouth and nose protection has creases, pull them apart from the outside and pull the protection down over the chin. The mouth and nose must be completely covered for a sufficient effect and the mouth and nose protection should be as tight as possible on the cheeks. If there are ties, knot the lower ones behind the head.
At the end of the day, the mouth and nose protection should fit and be so tight that you no longer have to adjust the fit. Even if you turn your head or speak, it shouldn't slip or disturb.

Important for people who wear glasses

The mouth-nose protection is worn under the glasses, but should still fit well with the skin in the upper area, a built-in wire makes this easier. With the mouth and nose protection on with the glasses, test whether they fog up when you exhale. If so, the fit should be corrected, especially over the nose and cheekbones. In theory, there are single-use products that are particularly suitable for people with glasses and that reduce fogging.

Danger: If you wear the mouth and nose protection below your nose, so the nostrils are free and it is practically useless.

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While wearing

Avoid touching the face mask while wearing it! This prevents germs from getting from your hands to your face. You should therefore check the mouth and nose protection seat carefully after it has been put on. If you accidentally touch the protection: it is best to wash or disinfect your hands so that you do not distribute any viruses from the mouth and nose protection with your own hands.

The mouth and nose protection no longer has a reliable protective function when it is damp and must then be replaced.

It is also important that the nose is always covered. Contrary to its name, many people wear mouth and nose protection under their noses. You don't protect yourself or others with it. The professor of arbovirology at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit sees it the same way: "There is no question that the mask must be used correctly."

Breathe with face and nose protection

Breathing should not be difficult under the mouth and nose cover. If this is the case, the fabric is not sufficiently breathable. But many people feel a kind of anxiety after a period of wearing them and have the feeling that they have difficulty breathing. The classic cotton masks are actually so permeable that there shouldn't be a lack of oxygen underneath, says Professor Janne Vehreschild, scientist from the German Center for Infection Research, who heads a working group of Cologne and Frankfurt researchers who, for example, investigate risk factors for the disease caused by the coronavirus Covid-19 investigated.

The infectiologist still has a possible explanation: "I think more that breathing is very conscious and is actively experienced - and then you might imagine a kind of breathlessness.

His advice: In general, keep calm when breathing through the mask and do not breathe in or out too hard. "That can lead to hyperventilation." So it is better to breathe calmly and shallowly and not concentrate so much on it - but deal with other things.

Danger: It is common to see the mouth and nose protector pulled under the chin when people are out of business. Or the mouthguard with ties dangles loosely on the chest. Both methods increase the risk of infecting yourself through contact with the outside of the mouth and nose mask, or of spreading your own germs on the outside of the mouth and nose mask - the mouth and nose mask may do more harm than good. If the mouth-nose protection is no longer needed and bothers you, it should either be disposed of immediately as described, or be stored safely and then washed.

Remove the mouth and nose protection

To remove, grasp the mouth and nose protection on the ear hooks or loosen the loops of the straps and remove from behind. Hands and the temples / straps or other parts of the mask should not touch the face. A single-use mouth and nose mask is best disposed of directly in a closed rubbish bin. Finally, wash or disinfect your hands.

Transport and cleaning

If you use a reusable mouth and nose mask, it belongs in the washing machine immediately after use, as soon as you have removed it - even if it was only worn on a short trip to the bakery. If you want to remove the warning on the way home, because breathing becomes easier then, you should wait until you can really avoid crowds - such as in the subway or at the traffic lights. Then it is best to stow the mouth and nose protection in a plastic bag or box. Important: wash mouth and nose protection as soon as possible, otherwise it can start to get moldy! Washing should be done at at least 60 degrees, 95 degrees are better.

There are no official recommendations for disinfecting in the microwave. It is also unclear how long such a disinfection would have to be carried out in order to safely kill all germs. This also applies to steam disinfection in the oven or with the iron. All are rather unsafe methods of cleaning the mouth and nose mask and then using it again safely.

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Posters and flyers for download

The most important facts about the correct use of protective masks are explained in German, English, Turkish and Arabic on our easy-to-understand posters and flyers. The flyers and posters are available for download here free of charge and are suitable for companies, schools or event rooms.