To protect against transmission of COVID-19, face coverings are critical. Given the shortage of N95 masks and their priority for frontline healthcare workers, we are providing this resource page on DIY mask making. Try making your own or commissioning some to be made. But do not go without. Many DIY designs are washable having the added benefit of promoting reuse and lowering climate and pollution impacts. They also exemplify local community self-reliance.
ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative team has long included the importance of N95 masks for those with respiratory difficulties as part of our hot composting training. Masks protect against airborne aerosols such as aspergillus fumigatus, a species of fungus that lives in soil, decaying leaves, and compost, and that can produce airborne spores.
In order to meet the needs of our Community Composting Coalition, we have partnered with Linda Blackbourn at Masks4Good to make a specific reusable fabric “working” mask with these features:
• 3-ply design
• A filter pocket
• Wire nose bridge
• Different fabric for back than front to help with putting on
• Easy-on and easy-off design
• Adjustable straps
• Comfortable to wear (e.g. for long work shifts)
• Reusable and washable
This design is based on version four of a nurse-designed pattern here. Linda is hiring local seamstresses and seamsters who include out-of-work housekeepers. For each mask ordered, one will be donated to local frontline workers. (ILSR receives no commission or monetary benefit from sales.)
The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.
– George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: Science Magazine, March 27, 2020 article
How to Make COVID-19 Masks
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- Instructional Video for Sewing the Olson mask (COVID-19), posted by UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, March 22, 2020
- Instructional DIY Video on Making T-Shirt/PaperTowel Filter Mask – ONLY NEED SCISSORS, T-SHIRT, PAPER TOWELS, by Jeremy Howard, Research Scientist, University of San Francisco (VIEW TIMESTAMP 6:51-10:26)
- How To Make Coronavirus Face Masks, And How Effective They Are (Huffington Post article, March 24, 2020, with links to several tutorials and patterns)
- How to SEW a REUSABLE FACE MASK with FILTER POCKET// DIY Fabric Face mask
- “Which DIY mask pattern should you use? Even experts can’t pick one to recommend” Washington Post, April 1, 2020, includes links to medical center designs:
- Dell Medical School in Austin
- Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville
- Kaiser Permanente in California
- Providence St. Joseph Health
- And link to making non-sewing masks from shop towels (which are heavy duty paper towels often used by auto shops): Instructional Video: Easy No-Sew Shop Towel Mask – Please please share!