Information on masks, including how to make one at home


Some states are recalling KN95 masks made in China

Governor Andrew Cuomo has made an executive order for all New Yorkers to wear a face covering when they are out in public in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to the CDC, simple cloth face coverings slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

Other precautions like staying home, washing your hands frequently, and covering coughs and sneezes should still be taken.

The effectiveness of that mask is not just in the mask itself, it is in the bundle that it goes with. So the bundle is: you wear a mask, you don’t touch your eyes, mouth or nose. You cover your face when you cough or sneeze. And you wash your hands all the time and continue to maintain physical distance.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, Chief of Infectious Disease at Upstate University Hospital

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies needed for healthcare workers and other medical first resonders.

Store supplies may be limited with pre-made manufactured masks but the CDC says cloth coverings can be fashioned from household items or common materials at a low cost.

Cloth face coverings and masks are not recommended for young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The proper way to wear a mask or face covering

Masks and face covering should cover BOTH your nose and mouth.

Cloth face coverings should also—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

How to remove your mask or face covering

You should be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

How to clean a face covering

Face coverings should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. The CDC says washing a cloth covering in a washing machine should be enough to properly clean a face covering.

Where can I get a mask?

It may be difficult to find masks in stores due to high demand. Online stores like Amazon may have supplies in stock, however, there have been reports of long waits for items to ship among other issues.

Homemade masks can be found for sale online at retail sites like Etsy.

There are also small businesses in Central New York who are also selling cloth masks.

If you are a small business in Central New York selling masks, please email

Community groups have taken action, sewing masks for neighbors and first responders. You can check places like NextDoor, or Facebook Groups.

How to make your own face covering

What materials work best for making a face covering?

According to Missouri University and Wake Forest, the best fabric to use is quilters cotton. It captured 70% to 79% of particles. A high thread county pillowcase did second-best capturing 60% of particles. A wool scarf captured 48% and a cotton bandana captured 20%. The study recommended 4 layers of cloth for protection.

A simple light test can help you decide whether a fabric is a good candidate for a mask. Hold it up to a bright light and if light passes through the fibers easily, it’s not a good fabric.

Any face covering is still better than none, so by wearing a mask, following social distancing rules, and frequently washing your hands may protect you or someone else from coronavirus.

Sew and No Sew Instructions From the CDC

The CDC has a series of videos creating face masks using American Sign Language.

Sewing Instructions

  • Two 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric
  • Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties)
  • Needle and thread (or bobby pin)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.

2. Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.

3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight.
Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic headbands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.

4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.

Alternative mask patterns can be found on the internet and social media sites.

No-sew Mask From a T-Shirt

  • T-Shirt
  • Scissors

1. Cut 7 to 8 inches from the bottom of the t-shirt

2. Leaving a strip of fabric on either side, cut a 6 to 7 inch rectangle out of the piece from step 1.

Cut the back of the “strings” to separate.

3. Tie the strings around your neck and then over the top of your head to secure.

Alternative No-Sew Method With T-Shirt, Bandana or other fabric

  • Bandana (or square cotton cloth approximately 20”x20”)
  • Rubber bands (or hair ties)
  • Scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth)

1. Fold the bandana in half

2. Fold the bandana into thirds – think of it like folding a letter – by folding the top down a third of the way, then fold the bottom up a third of the way.

3. Place rubber bands or hair ties around the bandana, roughly 6 inches apart.

4. Fold the sides of the bandana to the middle and tuck.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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