With face masks sold out and distribution (rightfully) limited to health care workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, many are wondering how to make a face mask at home with materials they have handy.

According to , vacuum cleaner bags (or HEPA bags) and dish towels are among the most effective household materials against small, airborne virus particles. Cotton t-shirts and pillow cases are slightly less protective but provide a necessary breathability, making them another suitable foundation for a DIY face mask. 

And should you have more than one of these mediums available, you can pair them together to make, say, a washable cloth face mask with disposable HEPA bag liners inside.

Before you learn how to make a face mask, you’ll want to get out a sewing machine or sewing kit, scissors and elastic. If you don’t have these DIY materials at your disposal, there could be miscellaneous objects in junk drawers, storage closets and medicine cabinets that work when you can’t find traditional crafting supplies. Hair bands, bra straps or the waistband of old sweatpants could replace elastic thread, for example. Some people have even been cutting up pantyhose or tights. 

If you don’t have a sewing kit or machine, there are no-sew face masks you can make with just a couple of everyday materials.

We’ll show you a few different approaches to how to make a face mask, but you should be aware of the controversy surrounding the use of homemade personal protective equipment first.

Experts are divided as to whether a homemade mask is an effective defense against airborne germs, and whether you should wear a face mask at all. Although the CDC the “routine use” of face masks in average settings, that mask-wearing could be a viable measure when paired with frequent hand-washing and stringent social-distancing. 

Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are required to wear a filtering facepiece respirator with a N95 certification, which you cannot recreate at home. N95 masks filter out of very small particles, while still allowing the wearer to breathe.

How to make a face mask

Should you make your own face mask?

A homemade face mask can capture small air particles, but it is not up to par with medical standards and should not be used in place of a N95 mask in environments with a high-risk of viral transmission. If they’re made of fabric, homemade face masks also need to be washed with at least once a day. 

However, if you’re wondering how to make a face mask to donate to emergency medical workers battling the coronavirus, , an emergency medicine physician in Arizona, believes HEPA vacuum bags make quality face masks. It hasn’t gone through clinical testing, but Dr. Southworth believes it’s the best we can do at home. Be sure you wash your hands and transport the masks in a clean state for donation.

If you’re stuck at home and learning how to sew, there’s no harm in knowing how to make a face mask for personal use. You also have more flexibility with materials, given you don’t plan to wear your face mask in contagious settings. 

Despite the stigma of wearing a face mask, you’re allowed to take individual measures that make you feel more secure while running essential errands. So if having a homemade filter around your mouth and nose eases your fears, go ahead and check out these tutorials on how to make a face mask. 

Important: The reminds us that homemade masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent and proper hand-washing, and we remind you to go scrub your paws now.

And of course, adhere to your local protocols about leaving your house before hitting the town with your new mask.

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

What you’ll need

• HEPA vacuum bag
• Needle and thread (or sewing machine)
• Hot glue gun and hot glue
• Elastic tape (at least 11 inches, pre-washed)
• Pipe cleaner or other thin, malleable wiring
• Stencil, cut out from pattern
• Pencil or marker
• Scissors

You want to make sure you’re using a washable, cloth vacuum cleaner bag with a high filtration value. , a popular YouTube textile resource, recommends the Miele U bag or Envirocare bag. You’ll want to check for a HEPA label, which means the bag’s material traps 99.97% of dust and pollen. Download and to get started. When arranged properly, the stencil lets you turn your vacuum cleaner bag into four separate face masks.

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

How to make a face mask with a vacuum cleaner bag

HEPA Cloth Bags (20 pack):
These HEPA vacuum bags from Home Depot can be turned into face masks following the steps above. You should be able to use your stencil 4 times per bag, meaning you can make 80 masks at home. View Deal

Wireless Hot Glue Gun kit:
This wireless hot glue gun kit comes with 10 glue sticks and will suit your crafting needs. Use it to make a face mask and other DIY projects while stuck at home.View Deal

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

What you’ll need

• Needle and thread
• Scissors
• 20 x 20 inches of 100% cotton fabric, like a dish towel (pre-washed)
• 4 elastic strings at least four inches long (pre-washed)

While it’s helpful to have a sewing machine to make this dish towel face mask, you can also easily hand-sew it. Start by finding some tightly-woven cotton fabric. it’s better to use 100% cotton versus a cotton-polyester blend. A dish towel ranks third under a surgical mask and a vacuum cleaner bag as the most effective against particles.

You’ll also need elastic strings, which you can take off of various common household items. Try bra straps, bathing suit straps, hair ties or thick rubber bands. Then, download and print provided by The New York Times, which created below.

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

How to make a face mask with a dish towel

Cotton Fabric Dish Towls (8 pack):
If you follow the steps above, you can make a face mask at home using these 100% cotton fabric, machine-washable dishcloths. 

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

What you’ll need

• Scissors
• T-shirt (pre-washed)
• Two elastic loops (pre-washed)

T-shirts rank just under dish towels in effectiveness against particles. Both a cotton blend T-shirt or 100% cotton T-shirt will work in these two methods. As far as elastic strings go, the first method uses two loops, which could be hair ties or thick rubber bands.

The first method comes from the . They use a handkerchief but not that many have one of those lying around, which is why we’ve adapted it to a T-shirt. Here’s how to make a no-sew pleated face mask:

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

How to make a no-sew face mask with a T-shirt

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This content was originally published here.

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