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How to Make a DIY No Sew Surgical Face Mask

Instructions for the public on how to fight the spread of Covid-19 keep changing by the day. Previously the World Health Organization discouraged the use of face masks by healthy individuals and claimed that wearing one is only needed if the person is coughing or sneezing, or taking care of someone who is showing symptoms. But in the last few days, this stance seems to be shifting. According to a report from the Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seriously considering changing those guidelines and require that anyone who must leave the house should cover their face with a mask. 

Such a requirement would clash with the mask shortages experienced around the world. Medical personnel, vulnerable populations and people who are actually sick with the virus are in dire need of those masks and are first in line to receive whatever limited supply there is. Despite there not being a clear instruction yet, a few officials have expressed their belief that the general public wearing masks would indeed help flatten the curve. To protect yourself despite the shortage, it is possible to make your own DIY mask. If the mention of a needle thread alarms you - don't worry! There are no-sew methods that are simple and accessible to anyone. 

Some Background on Face Masks

surgical face mask vs N95

It’s important to know there are two types of masks - Surgical masks and respirators, also known as N-95. 
Surgical masks - these are the ones you see doctors, nurses and dentists wear when they examine patients. They are more loose-fitting and thinner. They do provide protection from cough and sneeze droplets to a degree. However. because they are not tightly sealed around the nose and mouth, some of the air the wearer breathes is unfiltered. 

N-95 - commonly used by construction workers. They are tight and form-fitted to the wearer’s face. According to the CDC, they filter about 95% of the airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria. The downside of the N-95 masks is that they are difficult to wear for long periods of time, as they get clogged and that may cause the wearer trouble breathing, and higher heart rate. Pregnant women and people with breathing problems should consult a doctor before wearing an N-95 mask. 

According to the WHO, surgical face masks are perfectly suitable for individuals who just need them to run errands outside or go grocery shopping. 

So How Do You Make a Surgical Mask At Home?

So How Do You Make a Surgical Mask At Home?

The best materials for a face mask would be a cotton T-shirt or a cotton pillowcase. That is because of the fabric’s ability to capture particles yet remain breathable. A study on DIY face-masks has concluded that cotton masks perform comparably to regular surgical masks. Do not forget to wash the cloth before using it! Use the warmest setting in your washing machine, then dry it on high heat as well.

This tutorial below is a no-sew one. If you are able to and prefer to sew one this tutorial is very handy. The video for it is provided at the bottom of the page

No-Sew Face Mask

1. Cut a square out of your fabric, roughly the size and shape of a handkerchief (12x12 in or 30x30 cm) 
2. Two hair ties


1. Place the square fabric on a surface or a table in front of you.
2. Fold the top to the center.  
3. Fold the bottom to the center.
4. Flip over.
5. Fold the bottom to the center.
6. Fold the top to the center.
7. Flip over again.
8. Thread both ends of the fabric through the hair ties, so it is broken into three parts with the center part being slightly larger than the ends. 
9. Fold the sides into the center.
10. Flip over the last time, and the mask is ready to wear.


Video Tutorial of the No-Sew Method


Video Tutorial For Sewing a Face Mask

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