Skip to main content

Medical Respirators N95 Fitting Instructions

23 Mar, 2020
The 3M 1870 is a three panel flat-fold particulate respirator and surgical mask. Follow these instructions each time you don your respirator in order to achieve a proper fit:

  •  Remove the respirator from its packaging and hold it with straps facing upward
  •  Place the bottom strap under the chin panel, next to the warning statement 
  •  Fully open the top and bottom panels, bending the nosepiece around your thumb at the center of the foam
  •  The straps should separate when the panels are open 
  •  Make certain the bottom panel is unfolded and completely open 
  •  Place the respirator on your face so that the foam rests on your nose and the bottom panel sits securely under your chin 
  •  Pull the top strap over your head and position it high on the back of the head above your ears 
  •  While holding the respirator firmly on your face, pull the bottom strap over your head and position it around the neck and below your ears 
  •  Make sure the straps are not twisted for increased comfort 
  •  Adjust for a comfortable fit by pulling the top panel toward the bridge of your nose and positioning the bottom panel under your chin 
  •  Place fingertips from both hands at the top of your nose and mold the nosepiece around your nose to achieve a secure seal. Push inward while moving your fingers down the side of the nosepiece.
  •  Note: Always use two hands while molding the nosepiece. Pinching the nosepiece with one hand may result in improper fit and less effective respirator performance. Perform the User Seal Check each time you don a respirator. To conduct a user seal check: 
  •  Place one or both hands completely over the middle panel, cupping hands over the respirator and covering it as much as possible. Pay careful attention not to disturb the position of the respirator. 
  •  Inhale and exhale sharply. Be careful not to disturb the position of the respirator. It is important to have a good face to respirator seal. If air leaks around the nose, readjust the nosepiece for a more secure seal and repeat the User Seal Check 
  •  If air leaks around the respirator edges, adjust the position on the face and the straps along the sides of the head and repeat the User Seal Check. Do not enter a respiratory isolation or other hazardous area where respirators are required until you are assured of a proper fit. If you have difficulty achieving a fit, review the respirator User Instructions located inside the packaging or refer to the instructions on the 3M 1870 "Wear it Right" poster to ensure that you are following the correct procedure. If you are still unable to achieve a fit, see your supervisor or a representative from your infection control or employee health and safety departments. Do not enter a hazardous or infectious area. To properly remove the respirator: 
  •  Do NOT touch the facepiece 
  •  Slowly lift the bottom strap from around your neck up and over your head, while keeping the respirator seated against your face 
  •  Lift off the top strap 
  •  Carefully remove the respirator without allowing the outside of the respirator to come in contact with your body 
  •  Perform hand hygiene 3M recommends you practice this removal procedure until you are proficient and comfortable with the procedure and before actual use of the respirator for the first time. Leave the hazardous area immediately and replace the respirator if it is: 
    • Damaged
    • Difficult to breathe through
    • Contaminated with blood or body fluids Follow your facilities' Infection Control Policies and Procedures for guidance on how frequently you should replace your respirator Follow the proper fitting procedures each time you wear the respirator. 

  • When in doubt, review the user instructions including the user seal check instructions. If a proper fit cannot be achieved, do not enter the area requiring respiratory protection.
  • Follow up with your supervisor. 
  • Keep in mind that when you are wearing a respirator, it helps reduce potential exposures if the respirator fits you properly, you wear it during all times of exposure and use of the respirator is under an effective respiratory protection program as required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134.
  • Refer to the OSHA website at for the most current information about use of respirators. Contact your 3M Sales Representative or call the 3M Health Care Customer Helpline for information on personal protective equipment, including the respirators described in this training, and to learn more about the other elements of a respiratory protection program.