How to make surgical masks?

woman wearing blue surgical mask

The effectiveness of a homemade mask may be limited, but a mask is better than no mask. If made correctly, a mask can reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria to a good level. You cannot replicate a surgical mask exactly, but something very close to a surgical mask can very well be achieved. Whenever you sneeze or cough, you release large droplets that can sit on surfaces, remain in the air, and affect the people around you. But by wearing a mask, you can ensure that you don’t affect the surrounding. You also need to take other precations to stop the virus.

Surgical masks are very different from N95 in providing a certain level of barrier against extremely small particles. However, as mentioned before, surgical masks are a better choice than wearing none at all. For example, if you are going to a grocery store, a surgical cloth mask is a good option to prevent any transmission of viruses.

It is important to note that, in times of pandemics like the Covid-19, masks alone will not prevent or protect the spreading of the virus. Masks and social distancing, and proper sanitization are the only way to overcome such a deadly virus.

You can make surgical masks or cloth masks yourself at home, and there are many ways to achieve that. But if we could divide them into two major types, then there would be the one you have to sew and one you don’t have to sew.

Follow this method if you know how to sew.

woman wearing white surgical mask

Materials required for this method:

  • Ruler
  • 4 strips of 2 x 16 inches fabric
  • Needle and thread/ sewing machine
  • 2 pieces of 9 x 6 inches, tight-weave cotton fabric
  • Marker or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing pins
  • filter

Make your mask

  1. Take two pieces of rectangular 9 x 6 inches fabric and place the pieces on top of each other.
  2. Mark a 2-inch opening at the center using a marker on the 9-inch side of the piece on the top edge. Mark the opening at 3.5 and 5.5-inch along the top edge.
  3. Then, the next step includes sewing. Sew either side of the top edge, leaving the opening that you marked. This opening is required to turn the mask to open to the right side.
  4. Sew the rest of the three edges shut.
  5. From the two-inch opening that you left, turn the mask right side out.
  6. Press the mask using the iron.
  7. Take the ruler and place it vertically on the mask along the 6-inch side. Starting at a 1.5-inch point, insert a pin from here. You will sew the pleats.
  8. Place the pins again at 2, 3, 3.3, 4.5, and 5-inch points.
  9. Now, hold the pin you placed at the 1.5-inch point and bring it down at the 2-inch point, and that will form a pleat. Repeat this step with the remaining pinpoints. Bring the pin from 3-inch to 3.5-inch, then 4.5-inch to 5-inch point.
  10. Sew the sides of your mask to create the pleats.

Note that you can make the mask more effective by inserting good quality filters between the two layers. For that, leave one 6-inch edge open and flip the mask right side out. Insert the filter from the opening and then sew the filter along the edge after forming the pleats.

Make mask ties

  1. Take four strips of 2-inch wide and 16-inch-long fabrics.
  2. Fold each piece in half, lengthwise.
  3. On the long side, turn the 1/4 -inch under.
  4. Iron and then stitch it to the mask on the long side.
  5. Repeat this with each corner of the mask.
  6. Sew along the perimeter of the mask once you have attached all the ties. And now your mask is ready.

Follow these methods if you don’t have a sewing machine or don’t know how to sew:

A fabric face mask can be made even if you don’t have a sewing machine or don’t know how to sew. There are various ways by which you can achieve that. But it is not possible to attach filters to this kind of mask. Hence its protection level is obviously lesser. Hence, the sewed masks have an advantage if you add a filter to them, making them more protective than a normal fabric non-sewed mask.

Here are five ways by which you can achieve no-sew masks:

  1. With fabric strips and a bandana
  2. Bandana with rubber bands or hair ties
  3. Fabric ties and safety pins
  4. Woven shirt fabric
  5. T-shirt

No-sew Mask using hair ties and a bandana

pink bandana with hair ties on the end

This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a fabric mask without sewing. For this, you will require two hair ties and a bandana.

You can also use a piece of fabric or a handkerchief for this. So, the first step is to place your choice of fabric flat. Fold the bottom and top of the fabric in the middle and make their edges meet. Now, fold the bandana in half. Now there should be four layers of the fabric.

Now, slip one hair tie over each end. Slide the ties towards the middle. Now fold the sides of the bandana to meet in the middle while they are slightly overlapping each other. Now tuck one end inside the other end. And your mask is ready. Wear the smooth side out, and you can adjust the grip of the mask by changing the hair ties to find a perfect fit.

You can do the same method using rubber bands. Avoid using hair elastics because they can be uncomfortable. Make sure to wash your bandana or the fabric you are using after a few uses to keep it clean.

No-sew face mask using fabric and safety pins

white kn95 mask

You would prefer this method if you want four ties on your mask. This mask has a tie on each corner. For this, you will need four small safety pins. Use these safety pins to attach the pieces of long fabric strips to the mask piece.

The strips will go around the back of your neck and head. This is a more comfortable way of wearing a mask, especially for extended hours.

In addition to wearing masks, disinfect and sanitize your home as well.

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