How to make a cloth face mask

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To help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear cloth face masks in public while practicing social distancing. The goal is to prevent people who may have the virus and not know it from spreading it to others.

Cloth face coverings should fit snugly against the face, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, be secured with ties or loops, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

There are plenty of how-to videos and websites available to guide you and you don’t need to know how to sew or make a trip to the craft section of your local store. 

To make a no-sew cloth face mask (Download CDC cloth face mask instructions):

  1. Start with a bandana or an old shirt cut into a large square. 
  2. Fold the material in half, then fold the top and bottom into the center to create a multilayered strip of cloth. 
  3. Slide on two rubber bands or hair ties, then fold both ends toward the middle and tuck.
  4. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and the bands behind your ears. 

When removing cloth masks, careful attention should be taken to not touch the eyes, nose or mouth. Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask. Cloth masks should be machine washed routinely, based on how often you wear it. 

Cloth face coverings shouldn’t be placed on children under age 2 or anyone with breathing issues or who would be unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Sophia Tolliver is a primary care physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and assistant professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.