3 DIY Face Masks You Can Make With Things You Already Have

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We’ve all heard the advice: The Centers for Disease Control recommends the use of face masks in public to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Rather than shelling out money for disposable masks or pricy masks from retailers, try getting crafty.

DIY Face Masks and Coronavirus: Do They Work?

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is spread via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is growing consensus that widespread mask use is effective in slowing the spread of the disease. 

If more people wear masks, asymptomatic carriers may be less likely to share it with others because respiratory droplets will be caught in the mask when they sneeze or cough.

Guidelines for Effective Face Mask Usage

For the masks to be effective, experts say wearers shouldn’t touch the mask often. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions for how to properly put on and take off masks. It says wearers should thoroughly wash their hands before putting on the masks and refrain from frequently adjusting the masks.

The organization also emphasizes that masks are only effective when worn in addition to frequent handwashing. 

Although cloth masks have not been shown to be effective at filtering out viruses, they can limit the spread of larger respiratory particles. A 2010 study found that masks made from multiple layers of thick cloth are more effective at trapping droplets. It’s also important that a mask has a tight seal and covers the wearer’s mouth and nose. 

Ideally, no mask should be worn twice, which includes cloth masks. Richard Peltier, an assistant professor for environmental sciences at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told Politifact cloth masks should be washed often with warm, soapy water.  

3 Handmade Face Masks You Can Easily Make

Here are three options you can try:

1. No-Sew Face Mask

Supplies: cotton craft fabric, fabric glue or hot glue, two rubber bands, scissors, an iron

To make this mask, fold the fabric into pleats, glue the extra fabric over the rubber bands, and you’re done. You may need to adjust the width of the mask to fit your own face.

If you substitute a bandana and some hair elastics instead of craft fabric and rubber bands, you may not even have to go on a supply hunt to make this mask. 

2. No-Sew Knotted Face Mask

Supplies: cotton t-shirt, ruler, scissors

Here’s another inventive, no-sew option, this time from sustainable fashion designer Runa Ray. You need an old t-shirt and almost nothing else. 

Cut a cotton t-shirt into two rectangles. Cut a fringe on each side of the fabric, tie the sides together and use the hems of the shirt for ear straps – done. 

This one also leaves a slot at the top to slide a reusable filter between the two layers of fabric, which can be handy.

3. Fabric Face Mask (Some Sewing Required)

Supplies: cotton fabric, lightweight fabric for internal filter, elastic ties, basic sewing supplies

If you do have sewing skills and want to show them off, this is your moment. Joann Fabric and Craft Store has created an online tutorial for those of you who want to make surgical masks for hospital staff, or even just yourself and your family. 

The tutorial says this pattern requires intermediate sewing skills. If that’s you but you need some supplies,Joann Fabric and other craft retailers are now offering curbside pickup for online orders. 

Anna Brugmann is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.