following new orientation published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people in the United States wear masks in public places to mitigate the spread of covid-19 between people who may be asymptomatic – and as the masks available are desperately needed by health workers on the front lines of the global coronavirus pandemic – the agency has now published a guide to DIY masks from a coffee filter or t-shirt.
The CDC advised DIY masks as an additional precaution used in addition to, and not in place of, maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from other people. And other measures, including avoiding touching your face, should also be kept in mind when you are in public spaces outside your home. That said, the two masks recommended by the CDC can be made in minutes and require little more than a pair of scissors or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a mini sewing kit or a machine.
Bandana and coffee filter mask
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For this mask, the CDC says that you will need a coffee filter, rubber bands or hair bands, scissors and a bandana or square cotton fabric measuring approximately 20 inches from each side.
- First, cut the coffee filter in half lengthwise (so, parallel to the opening at the top)
- Then fold the bandana or fabric in half
- Place the top of the coffee filter in the middle of the folded bandana
- Fold the upper and lower thirds of the bandana over the central section where you place the coffee filter
- Place rubber bands or hair ties about six inches apart equally from both ends
- Fold the ends towards the middle and slide the elastic around your ears
To keep the elastics in place, try pinning them with a hairpin, safety pin or needle and thread if you have them.
T-shirt mask (seamless)
This mask only requires a T-shirt and scissors.
- At the bottom of the T-shirt, cut a strip 7 to 8 inches tall
- Cut a rectangle about 6 to 7 inches long and 5 to 6 inches high on one side, leaving at least a quarter inch of fabric between the cut and the edge of the fabric
- Cut these ends to create chains
- Attach those to the back of the head and neck to secure the mask
T-shirt or fabric mask (sew)
For this mask, the agency says you will need two pieces of cotton fabric 10 inches by 6 inches, two pieces of 6 inch elastic (such as rubber bands or hair ties) or ropes, scissors and a needle and thread or sewing machine. The CDC recommends using a tightly woven fabric, such as quilted fabric or cotton sheets, but notes that a T-shirt will work well.
- Start by stacking the two pieces of fabric so that they are aligned in the same way
- Fold the top and bottom of the quarter-inch long sides and sew them in place
- Fold the shorter sides in half an inch and sew them in place
- Thread the 6-inch elastic bands through the half-inch openings on the shorter sides of the fabric and tie the ends together (CDC recommends using a hairpin or large needle to help)
- Tuck the knots inside the hems on each side
- Make sure the mask is suitable for your face and secure the elastic bands in place with wire
For step-by-step visual instructions for one of these DIY masks, visit the CDC website. Make sure the mask you create is suitable for your face but allows you to breathe easily.
The CDC points out that the masks do not replace any other measure or recommendation to prevent the spread of the virus, including maintaining six feet of space between you and another person. He also notes that the masks should be washed frequently (a washing machine is fine) and that you should avoid touching your face, especially your nose, eyes and mouth, while removing the mask. And always, always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds if you’ve been in a public space outside your home.