DIY: Homemade Face Masks For Coronavirus

Homemade face masks seem to be everywhere now—many stores are requiring customers to have some sort of face covering before shopping. If you’re wondering if these face covers are really necessary, the short answer is yes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus doesn’t always show symptoms (it can be asymptomatic) and can spread “between people interacting in close proximity—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC have made it clear that maintaining social distance (six feet apart) is critical to slowing the spread of the virus, but in public settings (think grocery stores, pharmacies or walking your dog), it can be challenging to adhere to these measures.

That’s why the CDC recommends the use of cloth face coverings, especially “in areas of significant community-based transmission.”


Why the Urgent Need For Using Non-Medical Face Masks Now?

You’re probably wondering if a medical-grade mask would be better for you. Unfortunately, that answer is a little tricky. This wide-spreading virus and the increasing cases of infected people have caused a shortage of many medical supplies. Medical-grade masks need to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. That’s why health organizations are encouraging residents to wear cloth face coverings when they need to leave their homes. While wearing a protective face covering made out of a cloth may not inspire as much confidence as a N95 respirator or a surgical mask would, it is more effective than many think and is certainly better than nothing.

Hand with plastic glove cleaning door knob


How Much Can a Cloth Face Covering Protect You?

Using a protective face covering is beneficial in several ways:

  1. It offers an extra layer of protection when in a public setting.
  2. It helps stop an individual who is infected and may not know it from transmitting the virus to others.

But wearing a face mask doesn’t replace the 30 Days to Stop the Spread Presidential Guidelines, of course. It is important you continue to follow the guidelines for social distance measures and practice good hygiene.

Growing cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and the need for protective face masks unveiled a pressing question: What is the best material for residents to use? A recent study determined that 100% cotton fabric, is the best material for a DIY face mask.

Why was cotton deemed the winner? For two important reasons:

  1. The fabric’s ability to capture particles.
  2. How breathable the fabric is.

Cotton and cotton-blend fabrics proved to be the most effective for homemade face masks because they remained breathable when folded into layers while filtering out over 50% of particles.

Protection is important, but don’t forget that your face mask should also allow you to breathe without restriction— you don’t want to feel short of breath while reaching for the last bag of lentils.

Step By Step: How To Create A Face Mask At Home?

Making your own face mask with a cotton bandana, T-shirt or cloth you can find around your home is an easy, affordable and effective way to help protect yourself and your loved ones. There are several ways to make a DIY cloth face mask, below you’ll find instructions for a no-sew, CDC compliant bandana face covering—not everyone has a sewing machine.

What You’ll Need:

  1. A 100% cotton or cotton blend bandana
  2. Two rubber bands or hair ties (per face mask)
  3. A flat, clean surface to fold your mask

Turning a Bandana Into a Mask

  1. Lay the bandana flat on a clean surface.
  2. Fold it in half.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Place one rubber band on either end of the folded bandana.
  5. Fold ends of fabric inward, over rubber bands.
  6. Place cloth mask over your face.
  7. Place rubber bands behind your ears.
  8. Make sure it covers you from the bottom of your chin to the bridge of your nose.

As an added step, you can add a coffee filter or a smaller piece of cloth to act as a second filter.


The Right Way to Wear and Care for Your Homemade Face Mask

Once you’ve made the cloth face-covering you’re most comfortable with, you need to make sure it follows the CDC’s guidelines. It should:

Girl with green face mask
  • Fit snugly and comfortably against the side of your face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow you to breathe without restriction.
  • Be wash- and-dry-resistant so it doesn’t get damaged or change shape.

Keep in mind that cloth face coverings aren’t intended for:

  1. Children under the age of 2.
  2. People who have difficulty breathing.
  3. Anyone who is incapacitated or is otherwise unable to remove the cloth covering without assistance.
Girl with green face mask

How To Safely Remove My Face Mask?

Be mindful of these steps when you remove your mask:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Carefully remove the ties or ear loops.
  3. Make sure you avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Wash your hands again.

Do I Need to Wash My Homemade Face Mask?

Yes, you need to wash your mask depending on the frequency of use. Make sure to use hot water and soap or add it to your laundry to keep your cloth face covering as clean as possible.

Staying home is the best way to contribute and help slow down the spread of COVID-19. However, there are moments, errands and responsibilities that may require you to leave your home. Now you have a way to protect yourself for those must-leave-the-house moments and feel confident knowing you’re following the recommendations of the CDC and the WHO.

Stay safe, practice good hygiene, keep social distancing and protect your face with a cloth mask—do your part for your community. Let’s help slow the spread of the virus. We’re stronger acting in unison although separate, for now.

About the Author: Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Digital Content Writer.


  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention. How to Protect Yourself and Others. 3 April 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. Updated 24 April 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • Health World Organization. Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus. Advice for the Public. Updated 29 April 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • Health World Organization. When and How to Use Masks. Advice for the public. Updated 29 April 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • SmartAir. Can DIY Masks Protect Us From Coronavirus? 4 March 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • SmartAir. What Are the Best Materials for Making DIY Masks? 8 March 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • Whitehouse. Coronavirus Guidelines for America. Statements and Releases. Healthcare. 16 March 2020. Web. 13 April 2020.
  • "Guidance for Wearing Masks." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 2020,

Video Tutorials:

  • Adams, Jerome, Dr. How to Make Your Own Face Covering. YouTube. 3 April 2020. Video.
  • Face Mask From a T-Shirt Tutorial: How to Protect From Coronavirus. USA Today. YouTube. 10 April 2020. Video.