Health

How To Make Your Own Face Mask At Home (Without Sewing!)

These DIY masks are designed for quick trips to the grocery store or taking walks outside while still social distancing and washing your hands.

Public health experts are now recommending that people in the U.S. wear face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its advice last week in an apparent reversal from earlier guidance that didn’t expressly support wearing masks, which is now recommended along with washing your hands and social distancing. The guidance is based on evidence that people who aren’t showing symptoms of the virus can still transmit the virus to others in close proximity — through coughing, sneezing, or even talking. 

President Trump also recognized the new guidance in the coronavirus task force briefing on Friday, adding that “it is only a recommendation,” and he isn’t wearing one. In February, Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted “STOP BUYING MASKS!” as hospitals across the U.S. were — and still are — experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment, beds, and ventilators. 

So now, the CDC is recommending you make your own masks at home. While these DIY masks aren’t usable in hospitals, they’re better than wearing nothing at all. If you want to help sew medical-grade masks for health care workers, there are some online tutorials as well as donation spots that would happily accept your help. 

Reminder: avoid touching the front of masks while you’re wearing or removing it, as that layer could be contaminated. 

Here are simple steps to make your own reusable face mask: 

1. Gather a pair of scissors, two bands, two strings, and a 12 x 6” piece of cloth. This study from Stanford Medicine shows which materials can be most effective, including a vacuum cleaner bag, tea towel, cotton mix, and antimicrobial pillow case. Some string ideas include hair ties, rubber bands, or elastic from an old pair of leggings.

2. Pleat your piece of fabric as you go, about one inch per pleat, until you have a one-inch spread of fabric that’s already folded.

3. Tie your band to each end of the pleated mask. The mask should unfold like an accordion since it’s pleated.

4. Loop your string under each band, make sure each end is even, and then tie a knot. Repeat on the other side.

5. Take the top two strings and tie securely. Repeat on bottom. 

6. Adjust your mask so it fits over your nose and under your chin.

7. Wash after every use with soap and water. You can also add a coffee filter, drying sheet, or other type of barrier to create a filter, which you can remove between each use.

And here’s how to make your own disposable face mask:

1. Fold material, like a paper towel, in half.

2. Lightly pleat it in about one-inch increments.

3. Tie a band to each side.

4. Loop your string under each band, make sure each end is even, and then tie a knot. Repeat on the other side.

5. Take the top two strings and tie securely. Repeat on bottom. 

6. Adjust your mask so it fits over your nose and under your chin.

7. Toss your mask after use.