On April 3, Governor Wolf recommended that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask if they must leave their homes.
Members of the general public don’t need a surgical mask – we need those for our health care workers and first responders. Instead, they are encouraged to wear homemade fabric or cloth masks.
Homemade masks limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes.
When a homemade mask can’t be acquired a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing
community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of
protection from this virus.
When to Wear a Mask
Those who are staying home and have no close contacts who are infected with COIVID-19 don’t
need a mask most of the time. However, wearing a nonmedical or homemade mask may be helpful
in certain situations or for certain populations.
- Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies.
- While visiting your health care provider.
- Traveling on public transportation.
- Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses.
- When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing.
Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is
important that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes.
This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community.
Everyone should remember the phrase: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.” By increasing the overall number of people who are containing their coughs, sneezes, and other droplets, it will help us control the overall spread of the virus.
Best Practices for Homemade Masks
The best practices for making and wearing fabric or cloth masks include:
- Consider buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places.
- Purchase masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers.
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- The mask should fit snugly around the mouth and nose.
- If the mask has a metal wire it should be fitted snuggly to the bridge of the nose.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it, if you do wash your hands with soap and water or
alcohol-based hand rub.
- Made out of two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric.
- Be discarded or washed after every use.
- Should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind, do not touch the front of mask.
- The wearer should immediately wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after
removing the mask.
How to Make a Homemade Mask
Here’s how to make a mask at home.
- Fabric (100% cotton is most effective)
- Fabric Ties
- Sewing machine or a needle and thread
- Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size
12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults).
- Tightly sew both layers together on all edges.
- Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears.
- Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides.
- Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece.
Check out this New York Times article for more tips on how to make your own homemade mask.
On Medical Masks
Do not purchase masks designed for health care professionals. N95 and surgical masks are designed
to protect those who are working in high risk situations with a likelihood of exposure. Instead, make
your own mask or purchase one from an online small business.
Businesses should consider purchasing homemade or cloth masks for their employees as part of their
uniform or in recognition of good public health practices. Businesses should also consider non-punitive policies that encourage employees to wear masks while at work.
Find out more about the difference between homemade masks and masks for health care professionals.
Courtesy Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Instruction on how to make your own mask using materials you have at home from Pennsylvania Department of Health ⤵️
• Fabric (100% cotton is most effective)
• Fabric Ties
• Sewing machine or needle + thread
• Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size 12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults)
• Tightly sew both layers together on all edges
• Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears
• Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides
• Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece
Learn more about homemade masks and stopping the spread of COVID-19: on.pa.gov/stop_the_spread