A few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged people to wear sanitary protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This protective gear included gloves, hand sanitizer, and most importantly, face masks. Upon reception of this global message, millions of people began ordering these masks online or rushing to local retailers to buy face masks in bulk. Needles to say, stock outs were inevitable. So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to come up with a plan B: “How can we [health officials] ensure that every American has access to protective facial gear?” With low face mask supplies and high demand, manufacturers and producers were struggling to keep up, they couldn’t be relied on to meet the existing demand. Therefore, the FDA only had one available solution: improvisation. This quickly translated to DIY face masks.
In fact, health officials recommend you make your own face mask right at home. But in order to do so, you’ll require the most resilient materials as well as a step-by-step tutorial on how to actually make a mask. Lucky for you, our DIY face mask guide will give you all of the right tools to get started.
Are face masks actually helpful?
In the earlier weeks of the pandemic, the CDC reported that face masks — commercially sold and homemade alike — were unlikely to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Later on, the CDC started pushing the use of protective face gear to flatten the curve. The CDC’s abrupt switch in gears caused confusion among the people: “are face masks useless or vital after all?” It turns out that the CDC had initially labeled them as unnecessary because officials feared that face masks would be hoarded by the people and unavailable to frontline workers. Officials then specified that face masks, whether DIY or store bought, are actually extremely helpful in protecting others (and yourself) from the virus. Face masks are especially useful in preventing people with “silent infections” from contaminating others.
Did you know that people with “silent infections” are asymptomatic virus carriers? They test positive for COVID-19 and can successfully transmit it without ever feeling sick. This could potentially mean that maybe we or you or your neighbor has it without even knowing. So please, do your job in protecting others and wear a mask.
What materials should you use?
According to Healthline, a surgical mask filters 60 to 65 percent of particles. By using the below materials, your DIY face mask will achieve equal or higher filtration capacity:
- According to a study conducted by the American Chemical Society, a face mask made out of a tightly woven cotton sheet and two layers of chiffon, natural silk, or flannel can filter up to 90 percent of chemicals. That’s as effective as a N95 mask!
- You can also make a face mask using cotton quilts and cotton polyester batting. These materials will offer equal filtration quality.
- Unable to get your hands on the above materials? Try using a doubled up 600-thread count pillowcase. Hold it up to the light. If you can see right through it, it won’t do. You want a dense, thick, and tightly woven fabric for greater filtration capacity.
- Doctors recommend using t-shirts made out of quilter’s cotton which can filter up to 80 percent of the air’s particles. Nonethless, traditional cotton t-shirts, pajamas, bandanas, hand towels, and scarves remain reliable materials you can use to make a face mask.
Now that you have all of the fabric you need, let’s get to work, shall we?
How to make a face mask?
For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using a cotton t-shirt — now let’s get into it!
Step 1: Cut off a 15×20-inch rectangle from the chest area of your t-shirt.
Step 2: Lay it on a flat surface and fold both top and bottom edges to the (imaginary) middle line.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2.
Step 4: Add one rubber band to each side of your face mask. Fold opposing edges towards the center of the mask. You can now safely wear your DIY face mask.
Just like that, you’re doing your part in flattening the curve!