Many people are making their own masks at home due to the shortage of masks and respirators for health care workers who need this protective equipment. Making a face masks is not as effective as surgical masks or N95 respirators, but most experts say they are better than nothing when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Here’s how to make your own face mask at home with common materials.

Homemade masks offer much less protection compared to surgical masks and N95 respirators. But they are better than nothing, most medical professionals say. The key is to have a mask that forms a snug seal over the mouth and nose, so that particles can’t get in through gaps. There are items that you have around the house can filter particles from the air, and may reduce your exposure to the virus.

Use cartoon or colourful material to make a mask with a silky outer layer (if possible), middle layer of a thick, tightly woven material like nylon or cotton, and then a comfortable cotton on the inside.

Materials

  • Fabric, such as cotton, a washcloth or a microfiber cloth
  • Elastic band or two hair ties
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

Steps

1. Start with 2 rectangles of fabric, 12″ x 6″ (or 11″ x 5″ for a smaller head)

2. Sew the layers together; then sew the bottom edge closed.

3. Fold over one side edge, and using a regular hair tie or piece of elastic, start sewing the fabric so that the elastic is inside the fold.

4. Once you’ve started it, pull the elastic taut and sew down the rest of the fold.

5. Repeat on the other side.

6. Be sure to backstitch (sew over multiple times) at the beginning and end of the seam, since the elastic will be pulling at those spots.

Try to avoid using wool or other fabrics that can cause allergies or irritate your skin.