How to make your own face mask at home

Following new government advice to wear a protective face mask when using public transport or out shopping, people across the UK are getting creative with making their own. We've put together 2 easy step-by-step guides on making a face mask at home.

How to make your own face mask at home

Following new government advice to wear a face covering while in confined areas, people have been getting creative with making their own face masks. The plans to start easing lockdown measures will result in more people out and about, and transport authorities are urging commuters on trains and bus networks to wear a face mask, as an effort of curbing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Whether you're handy with a sewing machine, or just want to go for a fuss-free option, the principles of making a DIY fabric face mask are the same: the more layers of material the better, the mask needs to fit snugly around your face and you should be able to breathe comfortably. A study has shown that the best materials to use are tightly woven cotton, twill, natural silk or even a quilted cotton - but you can also just make do with what you have around your home. And of course, always wash your hands for 20 seconds (just as you would when putting your contact lenses in) before making, putting on and taking off your face mask.

Here's our step-by-step guide on making your own protective DIY face mask at home.

How to make an easy no-sew face mask

Let's start with a simple one that requires no sewing at all, and makes a 4-ply fabric face mask.

You'll need: 2 elastic bands (or hair ties) and a square fabric bandana or handkerchief that measures over 20'' on each side. You could also use up any fabric you might have lying around!

  1. Wash and dry the cloth, and lay flat on a clean surface
  2. Fold it in half
  3. Fold the top third down, and the bottom third up so they meet in the middle
  4. Thread through the two elastic bands on each side, about 6'' apart
  5. Fold each side to the middle and tuck to secure in place
How to make an easy no-sew face mask

How to sew a fabric face mask together

This one's a bit sturdier, but it requires a little bit of elbow grease, as you need to hand-sew or machine-sew the hems together.

You'll need: 2 pieces of fabric, measuring 10 x 6''each, needle and thread, a pair of scissors, 2 elastic bands (cut in the middle) and some kitchen towel. Before you get started, it's a good idea to disinfect the tools you'll be using.

  1. Wash and dry the cloth, and lay flat on a clean surface
  2. Lay the two pieces of fabric on top of one other, lengthways
  3. Fold over the top of the fabric (0.2'') and stitch across
  4. Fold the bottom up and stitch 1 inch inward from the edge of either side - this creates a filter pocket
  5. Fold the shorter sides in about 0.3'' and stitch - leaving a gap for the elastic to fit through
  6. Thread the elastic through the hem on one side and tie the ends together
  7. Repeat on the other side
  8. Put a piece of kitchen paper inside the pocket as a filter
  9. Gather the side of the mask on the elastic and adjust so that it fits your face. Then, stitch the elastic in place
How to sew a fabric face mask together

How to wear a medical mask safely

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Put your contact lenses in, then give your hands another wash, if you've touched your solution bottle or blister pack.
  • Check that the mask doesn't have any tears.
  • Put the mask on by holding the elastic edges (ear loops, ties or elastic bands).
  • Mould the bendable metallic strip, if your mask has one, to the shape of your nose by pinching and lightly pressing down with your fingers.
  • Put the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin and make sure it fits tightly and securely.
  • If you have a single-use mask, make sure you throw away straight after use. If you have a reusable one, make sure you wash and dry it between wears.

The government points out that homemade face masks are not necessarily intended to help the wearer, but they could prevent you from inadvertently passing on the disease to others if you have it without showing any symptoms. It's also important to note that face coverings are not a substitute for other lockdown rules. Hand hygiene, in particular, is just as important as before, so washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds when you get home remains the most helpful preventative tool.