How to Sew a Non-Medical Cloth Face Mask at Home
The CDC now recommends wearing a fabric mask when you go in public.
Project Joy is a weekly column about the projects we’re doing at home that bring us a little piece of happiness.
The new Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend that anyone going out in public wear a cloth mask. Over the last few days, our staff has been busy making masks for ourselves and our family members, and we’re sharing the easiest ways we’ve found to create the cloth coverings. You can make a no-sew mask from materials you have at home (think bandanas, hair ties, and socks), but if you already know how to sew, it’s easy to stitch up a fabric mask.
It’s a good idea to practice social distancing as much as possible, but there are a few times when going to the store or running an essential errand is unavoidable. We talked to Tania Elliott, M.D., an immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City to learn about how the masks can protect you if you need to go in public. “Cloth masks serve as a protective barrier against droplets (like mucous) if someone coughs or sneezes on you,” she says.
Elliott also walked us through the difference between these homemade masks and medical-grade N95 masks, and explained why N95 masks really aren’t necessary for the average person picking up groceries. “While the main mode of transmission is droplets, small amounts of the virus can be aerosolized for a short period of time,” she says. “Healthcare workers are on the front lines closely interacting with known COVID-19 positive patients. Therefore the N95 masks need to be reserved for people most likely to come into contact with the residual aerosolized virus.”
So while a cloth mask can help protect you from a fellow shopper who sneezes at the grocery store, a medical professional working in an area with a lot of COVID-19 patients require something more heavy-duty. If you have any clean, unused professional-grade masks leftover from a home renovation or DIY projects (preferably still in the original packing), contact your local hospital to find out how you can donate them to a medical worker. Then grab your fabric stash and use our easy instructions to make your own mask.
As of April 3, 2020, the CDC is recommending that everyone should wear a cloth face-covering in public settings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Visit cdc.gov for further information about this development and learn more about the CDC's no-sew face mask tutorial here.