The coronavirus pandemic has caused a massive shortage of face masks. Medical workers, who are caring for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, have a higher need for surgical masks and respirators, but you can still protect yourself by making your own masks. If you have a sewing machine, scissors, thread, or even some old cloth with rubber bands, you have the ability to make simple or fancy, stylish masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated that wearing face masks in public is an additional step to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that face masks be worn only by people who are/were caring for a person with COVID-19, or people who are/were coughing or sneezing. The CDC encouraged people to wear masks in public, but this is a voluntary measure of protection.
How Effective Are Homemade Masks?
Both surgical masks and homemade face masks are far less effective than an N95 respirator, which is a form-fitted mask that filters 95% of airborne particles, including bacteria and viruses. A face covering helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by blocking outgoing germs from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. Scientists don’t know how effective homemade masks are at preventing incoming germs, though. All of this will depend on the quality of material and how it fits the face.
What Materials Are Best?
Scientists around the country have tried to identify the best materials to use for homemade masks. The main objective of a mask should be to filter microscopic particles. HEPA furnace filters have scored high, but so did vacuum cleaner bags, flannel pajamas, or layers of 600-count pillowcases. Coffee filters have medium scores, and scarves and bandanas have the lowest scores, although they do capture a small amount of particles. A great way to test the effectiveness of your material is to hold it up to a bright light to see if light easily passes through the fibers. If you can almost see the fibers, it’s not good and you need thicker material.
Lastly, before we detail a few homemade face masks, it is important to note that homemade face masks cannot solely prevent the spread of COVID-19. Make sure to wash your hands, keep the home clean, and practice social distancing to help keep yourself healthy and safe. Don’t touch your face while wearing the mask, and remove the masks from the ear straps to avoid contact with your mouth and nose.
A Super Simple Mask:
This is the simplest mask you can make. All you need is some cloth and two rubber bands…no sewing machine required! Depending on the size of your face, you may need a bigger piece of cloth or larger rubber bands. See the video below for complete instructions.
Personal Face Mask:
If you have a sewing machine and want to engage in some simple mask crafting, this is the mask for you. This is the perfect project if you are stuck at home and looking for something to do. The great thing about this mask is that you can slip a coffee filter in for extra protection. See the video below for instructions.
Face Mask For Medical Use:
Calling all sewing professionals: this one is for you. If you are an experienced sewer and want to give back to local hospitals or medical workers, these homemade medical face masks are very effective. There are specific requirements for making them medically safe, so make sure you follow instructions in the video below.