(LEX 18) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended that everyone wear a face mask when they are in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, masks, even non-medical-grade ones, seem to be short supply.
A quick online search will bring up countless tutorials for how to make your own face mask at home. While going the DIY route may not protect you from getting the virus, it will help keep you from spreading it through sneezing, coughing, or even speaking. A mask is still helpful even if you’re not sick, because the virus can still spread if you don’t show symptoms.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, there are patterns and sewing tutorials online.
You can make a mask without needing sewing skills though, by using items from around your home, like a bandana or t-shirt. The key is picking the right fabric.
"The best guide we can give is to use heavier weight, what they call quilting cotton,” said Dr. Scott Segal with the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
Doctors at Wake Forest Baptist tested various materials and found that flannel-like fabrics and dense t-shirt material are better at trapping particles. Single-layer bandanas aren’t as protective, but you can fold it several times. Adding a coffee filter to the mask can help too.
You can test fabric by holding it up to a light. The more light that shines through, the more viral particles are likely to get through as well.
It’s important to remember that a DIY mask is added protection, not a replacement for social distancing.
“A mask is not you know, a get-out-of-jail-free card to get into someone's 6-foot space,” said Alanna Okun with The Goods by Vox.
The CDC has a guide for making and properly wearing masks on its website.