Make Your Own Coronavirus Face Mask

April 6, 2020
Woman wearing a surgical mask

© Enzo Nguyen@Tercer Ojo Photography

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Now the CDC is recommending everyone wear some sort of face mask when in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N95 respirators as those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. Fortunately, there are hundreds of do it yourself projects on the Internet that uses anything from vacuum bags to cheesecloth.  However health officials warn to get an artificial sense of protection and to continue physical distancing and to hot touch your face (mask doesn't protect your eyes). Fabric that is 100% cotton is comparable to surgical masks in effectiveness and although it isn’t as effective as an N95 mask, a DIY mask still offers some protection from respiratory droplets that spread the virus. You can make your own with a flat bed sheet, scissors, measuring tape, a large paper clip and four safety pins. Start with a clean, flat bed sheet that is 100% cotton and of a tight weave. Lay the sheet on a flat surface with the side hem being on the tip of your mask. Take a measuring tape (or an 8.5-inches-by-11 piece of paper to approximate) and mark off 13 inches on the same length as the hem. Then mark 5 inches down from the top hem. Cut. Then measure and cut four, half inch by 17 inch long strips that will be used to tie the mask to your face. Straighten out your large paper clip, then fold the ends back to keep those sharp edges from scratching your face.  Take the straightened paper clip and inserted into the hem of your mask and center it. This will be the nose pinch. Next take the sides of your mask and make a half inch fold. Use safety pins to hold that fold and take your scissors to make a small cut in the fold.  Insert one of the cloth strips, tie a knot at the end and draw it through the cut until the knot stops it from coming through the cloth.  If you have a staple gun, staple the fold and knotted strap once in place for added strength.  Do this one more time on one side and two more times on the other side. The top of the mask, with the hem and paper clip is the top. Adjust the paper clip to sit firmly across the bridge of your nose and use the straps to tie it in place behind your head. You can reuse the mask by placing it in boiling water for five minutes. After you turn off the heat, carefully remove the mask with tongs and place it on a clean paper towel. A queen-size flat sheet can make up to 24 individual masks. If you can’t make your own mask, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or bandanna.

TOOLS NEEDED

  • 100% cottom flat  bed sheet
  • scissors
  • A large paper clip
  • stapler
  • measuring tape
  • four safety pins