One of the many lessons of this pandemic is interdependence. What’s best for our neighbor is best for us as well—our health is bound together. Given that research tells us that many people are walking around with COVID-19 but lack any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, and many states and municipalities have made this a requirement. By wearing a mask, we’re protecting each other from anything we might transmit—and further helping to stop the spread of the virus.
These recommendations and requirements have left people scrambling, however, as commercially made masks can be hard to find and should be used by health care workers and other first responders workers anyway. Since our government disbanded the global pandemic office and prioritizes war spending over dollars for public health, it's important that we all do what we can to protect our communities. If you're a DIY crafter, a quilter, or someone with a little time on your hands—this is your moment to step up and make some simple masks for yourself and your community.
There is no one specific homemade mask that is recommended, but your mask should fit snugly from the bridge of your nose to under your chin.
Here are some resources for you to get started:
Choose a pattern that fits your skills and materials you have on hand:
- No-sew masks made from a T-shirt, or bandana with a coffee filter, or a reusable shopping bag and a pipecleaner.
- A simple mask that can be hand-stitched or sewn with a machine that uses two 10-by-6-inch pieces of fabric and hair ties. I was able to simply modify this design to include a pocket for a filter.
- A fitted mask with a flexible nose wire, basic sewing skills, and simple supplies needed. If you are crafty, you probably have the materials around the house already.
Choose effective materials:
- Tightly woven fabric is your best choice–hold it up to the light and if you can’t see through it, that should work. Even T-shirt material can be effective.
- If your mask design has a pocket for a filter, there are reports that paper towels, coffee filters, vacuum cleaner bags, or shop towels cut to fit will work.
Keep it clean:
- Make sure you follow good safety practices if you plan to make masks for others.
- Wash your mask after each use, and wash your hands after you remove it. It’s good to have at least two masks per person for this reason.
This weekend I got out the sewing machine and made some of these for my family, some neighborhood mutual aid workers, and even a social worker who stopped me in the grocery store asking where she could get a mask because she is still seeing clients. I happily dropped off a couple for her last night, knowing that she will now be able to keep herself and her clients safer.