How to make a DIY face mask at home (plus where you can buy one)

For over two months since the first coronavirus case in the US was announced, government officials said that those who are not sick do not need to wear a face mask. Even the surgeon general urged the public to not rush to buy face masks in fear that it would cause a shortage for medical professionals.

“You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask),” the Centers for Disease Control’s website read until Friday. It  now states that “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public” because “you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.”

Given that it is now believed that coronavirus can be spread through talking and breathing, the CDC and other experts are recommending that every one wears a face mask when they go out in public. Experts recommend that members of the public use things like a bandana, ski balaclava, or even make a DIY face mask made out of cloth at home for added protection from the virus.

Just like social distancing and hand washing, you can now add wearing a DIY face mask in public to your list of preventative measures. If you don’t have one already, follow our guide to a DIY face mask that you can make at home.

CDC face mask guidelines

Here are the new CDC guidelines for wearing a face mask:

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Here is how you can make a DIY face mask at home

Here are the materials you will need to make your own DIY face mask at home:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing supplies
  • A ruler
  • A breathable, tightly woven cotton fabric like T-shirt material
  • Elastic ribbon (40 centimeters)

Steps to make your own face mask at home:

Step 1: You will need to start by cutting four pieces from your fabric. Then, take two pieces and se the curved side together. This will be the front of the mask. Then repeat that process with the other two pieces of fabric. This will be the backside of the mask. You can download a template for the shapes of the pieces from The New York Times.

Step 2: Next up you will sew the elastic ribbons onto the mask. Start by placing the mask on a table with the seam side down, then place a ribbon on each corner with the ends slightly over the edges. Sew the ribbons on and pull all ribbons across to the right side. Next place the other mask seam side up on top to sandwich the ribbons. Sew the two masks together, making sure to leave the area on the right side of the mask unsewn. Next, turn the mask inside-out by pulling ribbons through that unsewn hole.

Step 3: When the mask is reversed, sew the remaining gap closed and try on your homemade mask.

Are homemade face masks effective at protecting you from coronavirus?

While homemade masks are not nearly as effective as masks made for health care workers, they are better than using nothing in your fight to protect yourself from coronavirus.

Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences, wrote a letter to the White House discussing the possibility that coronavirus can be transferred to another person just through talking or even breathing.

“I’m not going to wear a surgical mask, because clinicians need those,” Fineberg told CNN. “But I have a nice western-style bandana I might wear. Or I have a balaclava. I have some pretty nice options.”

Where can you buy face masks?

  • Etsy, land of home-made and do-it-yourself goods, has a large selection of face masks that you are able to choose from.
  • As usual, it’s Instagram to the rescue. If you didn’t find something you like on Etsy, chances are you’ll be able to find a style you enjoy on this social media platform. #FaceMaskButMakeItFashion
  • Amazon still has plenty of options for face covering devices.
  • Walmart has plenty of disposable options for face masks.
  • You make also make an alternative DIY face mask following this celebrity’s how-to video.

How do you wash your homemade DIY face mask?

So you have your mask, whether you made it or bought it. Like any other garment, you are going to want to wash this pretty frequently if it is not of the disposable variety. The CDC recommends washing all laundry thoroughly if it was possibly exposed to the virus, and that includes your face mask.