Coronavirus has swept the globe, with more than 100,000 deaths and upwards of 1 million people infected by the deadly strain. Governments worldwide have been handling the spread of COVID-19 differently but widespread shortages of medical-grade face masks and ventilators have been a prevalent theme. Leaders and experts agree such PPE equipment – such as face masks – should be reserved for healthcare providers.
But many people are opting to don face masks in public in a bid to keep themselves safe.
Jeremy Howard, a University of San Francisco researcher and the co-founder of Masks 4 All, says: “The science is clear (and now widely accepted) that wearing homemade masks will slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
“Why? If you’re infected (and ~50% of those infected are asymptomatic) then having a cloth layer in front of your face captures up to 100% of droplets emitted from your mouth and nose.
“My mask protects you and your mask protects me.”
The UK says face masks are not advised for the average person, but the US Centre for Disease Control now recommends all Americans to wear face masks in public to reduce transmission.
So how do you get your hands on one if you’re thinking of following the CDC advice?
Well, there’s more than one method to try. Express.co.uk brings you the three easiest versions you can try at home – without sewing.
How to make a face mask: The four simple steps you can take
1. Bandana or handkerchief method
Mr Howard has created a series of explainers as to how to make your own face mask – and here’s his first option, which is also recommended by the CDC.
What you’ll need:
- A bandana, handkerchief, scarf or towel (approximately 20”x20”)
- Two rubber bands, or hair ties
- Paper towel
1. Fold the bandana or handkerchief in half to form a rectangle.
2. Then fold the top edge down, and the bottom edge up, to form a thinner rectangle.
3. Place rubber bands or hair ties about six inches apart.
4. Fold the right side to the middle, lifting one layer of fabric. Then fold the left side over the right side, but tucking under that lifted layer. Pat down.
5. Use the hair ties or elastic bands to secure around your ears.
How to make a face mask: The bandana method
How to make a face mask: The t-shirt sleeve method
2. The t-shirt sleeve method
Mr Howard’s second option involves just one old t-shirt – ideally 100 percent cotton.
1. Draw lines across the t-shirt as shown in the diagram, with the bottom line boing just below the armpits of the garment.
2. Cut along the lines through both sides of the shirt.
3. For an additional safety precaution, insert a piece of paper towel or coffee filter in between the two layers of the T-shirt, in front of your mouth, and secure using a safety pin.
4. Secure the mask around your face, covering your nose and mouth by tying the top straps under the back of your head and the bottom straps at the top of your head, so the cross over as the diagram illustrates.
How to make a face mask: Quick cut t-shirt method
3. Quick cut t-shirt
The CDC also recommends this face mask, also made with an old shirt. All you need is a t-shirt and some scissors.
1. Simply cut off the bottom seven to eight inches from the body of the material.
2. Next, cut out a rectangle about six to seven inches wide, as per the diagram, then cut the hem where you have made the strings.
3. The strings you’ve now made secure around the neck and at the top of your head.
According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
How to make a face mask
Finally, the CDC approved face mask design – but you will need a sewing machine for this one.
What you’d need:
- Two 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric
- Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties)
- Needle and thread (or bobby pin)
- Sewing machine
How to make a face mask: Start at the top left, then the image on the right, then bottom left
How to make a face mask: The final step
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.
2. Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight.
Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic head bands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.