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How to Make Your Own Coronavirus Face Mask

Woman wearing a face mask

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The CDC has officially recommended that everyone wear a face mask – even a homemade DIY mask – to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Just two months ago the CDC lied to the public and told us that face masks are ineffective, which may have costed countless lives. But there’s time to assign blame later. The key task right now for all of us is to prevent the spread of the Chinese virus by any means necessary. That means making your own mask if you don’t already have one.

Before you make a do-it-yourself face mask, it’s important to remember that it’s not a substitute for social distancing. Masks reduce the amount of particles in the air but don’t completely eliminate them. It’s important that you follow all of the steps that health experts recommend including staying in self-quarantine, getting enough sleep, and maintaining six feet of separation from people when out in public.

We consulted guidance from Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin and the CDC in coming up with these steps for homemade mask construction.

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How to sew your own face mask


  • 2 pieces of tight-weave cotton fabric, 9 x 6 inches (per mask)
  • 4 strips of fabric, 2 x 16 inches (per mask)
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine OR needle and thread
  • Pencil or marker
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Iron

Making the mask

  1. Cut your fabric into two 9 x 6 inch rectangles. Put one on top of the other.
  2. Mark or pin a 2-inch opening in the center of the top of the 9-inch side between the 3.5 and 5.5-inch points along the edge. Sew the edges on either side of wear you pinned the opening. The 2-inch opening is extremely important since you’ll need it to turn the mask right-side out.
  3. Sew the other three sides of the mask shut.
  4. Use the 2-inch opening to turn the mask right-side out. Get rid of wrinkles by pressing it with an iron.
  5. Take a ruler and line it up vertically along the 6-inch side of the mask. You’re going to pin wear you sew the pleats along the side starting at the 1.5-inch mark. The pleats are important because they allow the mask to stretch. Keep pinning at the 2, 3, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5-inch marks.
  6. Bring the pin at the 1.5-inch line down to the 2-inch line. Do the same with the 3 to 3.5-inch line and the 4.5 to 5-inch line.
  7. Sew the sides of the mask while making sure that the pleats lay flat.

How to make the strings for your mask

  1. Cut four 2 x 16 inch strips of fabric.
  2. Fold them in half lengthwise (hot dog style)
  3. One the longer side, turn them in 1/4 of an inch.
  4. Iron them and stitch the long side shut.
  5. Pin each of the four strips of fabric to one of the corners of your mask.
  6. Sew around the edges of your mask to make sure the fabric strips are secure.
  7. Your mask is now complete and ready to wear.

How to make a face mask (non-sewing method)

Watch this video for a step-by-step guide on how to make a face mask using whatever materials you have at home. This person demonstrates using a paper towel but you can cut off a piece of an old t-shirt or use any other type of fabric that you have at home.

This method isn’t as good as using a sewing machine, but it’s better than nothing if you don’t know how to sew.

How do face masks stop the spread of coronavirus?

COVID-19 spreads through the air in droplets when an infected person who sneezes, coughs, talks, or sometimes even just breathes.

Face masks can reduce – but not completely eliminate – the amount of the virus that is circulating in the air. If you need to go to crowded areas like grocery stores and pharmacies it’s important to cover your face so that you don’t inhale the virus from an infected person and so that you don’t pass the disease on to someone else if you happen to have it.

According to the CDC masks shouldn’t be placed on anyone under the age of 2, people who have trouble breathing, or on unconscious people. Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance shouldn’t wear one.

How do you clean a homemade face mask?

The CDC recommends that you routinely clean your mask depending on frequency of use. Your washing machine will work to clean and disinfect cloth masks.

It’s important that you don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your face mask. Make sure you wash your hands immediately after removing it and then throw it in the washing machine to disinfect it.

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