Nick Hall

How to Make Your Own Homemade Face Mask | Man of Many

According to reports, even the most well-stocked hospitals are beginning to run low on vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as respirators and N95 face masks. Authorities around the world are banding together to create new manufacturing procedures in order to meet supply, with the Queensland government recently announcing $1.2 million of financial assistance to the Evolve Group to begin producing face masks for medical professionals and patients. But the supply will take time to produce, and with face masks already in hot demand, global organisations are asking civilians to cease purchasing surgical-grade face masks for protection.

Should You Buy an N95 Face Mask?

There is an important distinction to be made when it comes to homemade face masks and that involves effectiveness. While medical-grade equipment such as N95 respirators are understandably far superior in terms of preventing the spread of airborne illnesses, they are specifically designed to mitigate contraction in an immediate surrounding.  This means, wearing an N95 respirator or surgical-grade face mask should be reserved for those coming in close contact with known COVID-19 cases. This particularly pertains to medical professionals and hospital workers.

Are DIY Face Masks as Good as Medical-Grade?

A 2013 study by the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Department entitled Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? revealed that homemade face masks, constructed out of household materials were still effective in reducing aerosol transmission of droplet-spread communicable diseases. The study involved 21 healthy volunteers; 12 men and 9 women aged between 20 and 44 years of age. The results indicated that all of the materials used, which included a cotton t-shirt, scarf, tea-towel, vacuum cleaner bag and pillowcase showed some capability to block the microbial aerosol challenges. The most significant factor was not the material the homemade face mask was constructed out of, instead, it was the fit of the mask itself and the underlying actions of the wearer. However, the result did not definitively state that homemade face masks were inherently successful in preventing the spread of micro-organisms.

How Effective are Homemade Face Masks?

If you wish to to make a homemade face mask to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contraction, you only need a few materials. We’ve gone with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s method for producing homemade face masks. The required materials include;

Homemade Face Mask Materials

Making a homemade face mask can be a little tricky and does require some basic pattern-making knowledge. As mentioned above, this method for creating a DIY face mask has been suggested by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and details the most simple and effective way to turn a cotton-based material into a mask using elastic.

How to Make a Homemade Face Mask

  • Put right sides of cotton fabric together (Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.) Cut 9×6 (Adult) or 7.5 x 5 (Child)
  • Starting at the centre of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.
  • Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.
  • Now sew across that top of the mask to the next corner. Again, put an elastic with the edge out.
  • Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.
  • Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5” to 2” open. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.
  • Pin 3 tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction
  • Sew around the edge of the mask twice.
  • Homemade Face Mask Instructions (with Elastic)

    If you aren’t as handy with the sewing machine or needle, this simplified Vanderbilt University Medical Center DIY face mask method involves no elastic.

    Homemade Face Mask Instructions (without Elastic)

    If both of those seem a little too hard to follow, fear not. Some crafty users online have released a series of handy homemade face mask patterns for you to check out. Here, we’ve put together three of the easiest and most effective free face mask patterns you can download and try at home.

    Homemade Face Mask Pattern

    While studies showing homemade face masks completely eradicate the spread of airborne viruses are few and far between, it bears reminding that some protection is better than none. Taking the time to craft a well-made, cotton DIY face mask will better prepare you tackling the outside environment, which you should only be doing in an essential circumstance. As the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Department report stated, however, face masks and respirators, homemade or otherwise are far less effective when not paired with appropriate hygiene and safety measures. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly, wear gloves were possible and avoiding contact with foreign bodies.

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