On top of being pretty scary, coronavirus has also been pretty confusing. One of those pain points was wearing a face mask while you’re out in public. First, we were told not to wear them, but now we’re being told everyone should wear a cloth mask. So, what should we do?
Wear a face mask. Seriously. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has gotten behind this reversal big time. However, leave surgical and N-95 masks for medical workers and the people who really need them, since they’re in dangerously short supply.
Because there are a lot of people trying to make their own masks right now, we wanted to put together a guide on creating your DIY coronavirus masks. Even if you aren’t a particularly crafty person, you too can learn how to make your own face masks as long as you have the right materials and a little patience.
We’ve got instructions, videos and answers to common questions below.
Should I wear a mask even if I’m not feeling sick?
In case you’re wondering, yes, you should absolutely wear a face mask even if you feel perfectly healthy. Sporting one helps prevent the spread of coronavirus. That’s because many people are silent carriers, and since they don’t show any symptoms, they’re unaware that they’re spreading the illness wherever they go. Thus, the best way to stop community spread of the virus is to have everyone cover their face in public.
Will a face mask stop me from getting coronavirus?
Initially, health organizations said that healthy people didn’t need to wear masks. However, because so many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, many experts now believe that face masks are useful tools for flattening the curve. There is even some evidence that this strategy helped some countries in Asia contain the virus. That being said, you can still get the coronavirus even if you’re wearing a mask, which means you should still wash your hands and practice social distancing.
Do I have to wear a mask? Can I wear a scarf or bandana?
Don’t worry — you don’t have to be Martha Stewart to stay safe in 2020. In fact, the easiest solution is simply wearing a scarf or bandana around your face, taking care to cover your nose and mouth. If you know your way around a sewing machine, it’s worth it to whip one out and get crafting, or you can buy cloth masks online. However, a scarf or bandana will work in a pinch, and there are even many cool bandanas you can craft into a DIY face covering.
In fact, with nothing but a bandana and a couple of hair ties, you can make an effective DIY mask. This DIY option doesn’t require sewing; you just need a handkerchief or scarf and hair ties (any type of elastic loop will do in a pinch). This viral video shows how easy it is to make a face mask using these materials.
There are also kits online that come with all the materials you need to get started:
How do I make a face mask at home? What materials should I use for face masks?
One of the things that makes surgical and N-95 masks so effective is their secure fit around the nose and mouth, which lets fewer germs in and out. While a homemade mask can’t mimic that as strongly, it’s still a step up from a scarf or bandana. When making a DIY face mask, use cotton fabric that allows you to breathe — even an old T-shirt works.
If you know how to sew or have access to a sewing machine, then simply follow these DIY instructions to learn how to make your own face masks at home:
Once you get your sewing machine up and running, you can make extra masks to donate to your community. While the needs range widely for every health institution, some places are accepting homemade masks. Be sure to reach out to your local healthcare facilities first to ask about their policy. Or you can check out WeNeedMasks.org, a database of institutions requesting supplies, created and regularly updated by the Sewing and Craft Alliance.
Can I reuse face masks?
Now that you know how to make your own face masks at home, it’s important to take care of them properly. If you can, try to launder it after every outing with soap and water. A cycle in a regular washing machine will do the trick, too. Be sure to wash your hands before and after you take it off to avoid getting anything on your face and mask, and try not to touch it — or your face! — while wearing it.
It’s crucial to remember that a mask isn’t armor — you can still get coronavirus, and social distancing is a must even when you’re wearing a face mask. Be sure to continue to stay home and wash your hands to try to flatten the curve.