CDC Guide on How to Make Face Masks

how to make face masks
May 07, 2020
Last updated on Sep 14, 2023
5 mins read
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CDC Guide on How to Make Face Masks | America Homecare

IMPORTANT: In the state of New York, you are required to wear a face mask when in public.

The CDC has provided a corona protection guide from all their findings. However, coronavirus or COVID-19 is a newly discovered virus. Experts constantly learn more and more about it. At the moment, there is no vaccine. Taking proper steps to protect yourself and others can lower the spread significantly.

Please note that people who are at higher risk for COVID-19 include the following groups:

  • 65+ year olds
  • nursing home or LTC-facility communities
  • people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • people with serious heart conditions
  • those who are immunocompromised (cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV/AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications are some of the things that cause one to be immunocompromised)
  • people with severe obesity (BMI of 40+)
  • people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, liver disease, or diabetes

Other people who are at risk are pregnant people and people experiencing homelessness.


Face Masks and Coverings FAQs


What is a face covering?

A face covering is any well-secured paper or cloth (like a bandana or scarf) that covers your nose and mouth.

Who must wear a face covering?

All New Yorkers are required to wear face masks when out in public. You also need to wear face masks if you are in a living facility with shared kitchens, bathrooms, or other common spaces.

People who are sick must wear face masks when at home with others and if they are seeking medical care outside or important supplies of the home.

Should cloth face coverings be washed or cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. They should be washed often depending on the frequency of use.

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A washing machine will properly wash a face covering or face mask.

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

You should be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face coverings. You must wash your hands immediately after removing. (For a full list of FAQs on face masks, visit the NYC Health’s press release on face coverings.)

How to Wear Cloth Face Masks

Proper cloth face masks and face coverings should have all the following qualities.

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

How to Make Face Masks

Quick T-shirt Face Covering (no sewing required)

Materials Required:

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors

Bandana Face Covering (no sewing required)

Materials Required:

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

Sewn Face Covering

Materials Required:

  • Two 10″ by 6″ 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

A close up of the two rectangular pieces of cloth needed to make a cloth face covering is shown. These pieces of cloth have been cut using a pair of scissors. Each piece of cloth measures ten inches in width and six inches in length.

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.

The top diagram shows the two rectangle cloth pieces stacked on top of each other, aligning on all sides. The rectangle, lying flat, is positioned so that the two ten inch sides are the top and the bottom of the rectangle, while the two six inch sides are the left and right side of the rectangle. The top diagram shows the two long edges of the cloth rectangle are folded over and stitched into place to create a one-fourth inch hem along the entire width of the top and bottom of the rectangle. The bottom diagram shows the two short edges of the cloth rectangle are folded over and stitched into place to create a one-half inch hem along the entire length of the right and left sides of the face covering.

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.

Two six inch pieces of elastic or string are threaded through the open one-half inch hems created on the left and right side of the rectangle. Then, the two ends of the elastic or string are tied together into a knot.

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 head bands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.

The diagram displays a completed face covering, in which the knots of the elastic strings are tucked inside the left and right hems of the mask and are no longer visible. The cloth is slightly gathered on its left and right sides, and additional stitching is added to the four corners of the gathered cloth rectangle, at the points where the cloth and the elastic or string overlap in these corners.

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.

Infographics for Print

Resource links:


To see previous posts we’ve covered with some helpful tips and information on the coronavirus (COVID-19), be sure to visit our category page or you can view this post with all the infographics for easy printing or reviewing.

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