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How to Make an Effective Mask with Fabric

Initially, the world health organization, WHO, and the CDC did not recommend using a mask if you are not sick or do not work in a high-potential area for exposure to disease. However, recent research on the development of the coronavirus or COVID-19 states that there are concerns that groups are unwittingly prone to spreading the coronavirus. 

The groups called asymptomatic and presymptomatic are people who have been corona positive but have not or have not shown any symptoms. Therefore, cloth masks are recommended by the government to prevent further spread of the virus. 

What is an effective fabric mask?

Masks are one form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is usually used for protection from transmission of respiratory tract infections. Coronavirus has a diameter of around 0.05 - 0.3 micron. 

Technically, N95 masks and surgical masks are the most effective at filtering viruses up to 95% more effective than other masks. However, the coronavirus is not a virus that is transmitted through the air but from a droplet or splash of bodily fluids. Therefore, cloth masks can still function if used properly, at least to prevent the droplet from reaching others. 

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have observed the effectiveness of home masks from a variety of ingredients. The fabric that has the best filter power is:
  • Napkin material that is usually used for dishcloths
  • Pillowcases made from cotton
  • Cotton shirt
Don't use silk fabric because it has the worst filter capacity. The journal also stated that the most comfortable mask fabric to use while breathing is 100% cotton t-shirt, pillowcases made from cotton, and cotton in general. This cloth mask can later be coated with coffee filters or tissue so that the filter power increases. 

How to make your own fabric mask

There are many ways to make cloth masks, but the following two methods are the easiest and most concise, including:

1. Fabric mask without stitching

Reporting from the CDC website, fabric masks can be made without stitches and have earloop models or which can be pinned to the ear.

  • cotton fabrics, cotton shirts that are not used, or cotton pillowcases
  • elastic rubber can use a rubber hair tie covered with fabric to make it more comfortable
How to make:
  1. Wash and dry the fabric first so that it is sterile when used
  2. Measure the fabric length according to face size, the mask should cover the nose, mouth to the bottom of the chin
  3. Spread out the fabric, then add a coffee filter or tissue in it 
  4. Fold into three folds, then insert a rubber or hair tie on both sides of the fabric
  5. Fold the ends of the fabric exactly where the rubber is pinned, bringing one end together with the other so that the fabric is tight
  6. Pull both the top and bottom ends of the mask 
  7. Fabric masks are ready to use
2. Sewing cloth mask

The following cloth mask is a mask with a rope model, suitable for women wearing a hijab.

  • Needles and thread or sewing machine, if any 
  • Scissor 
  • Safety pins or clips to hold the fabric in place, if there is nothing you can replace the paper clip
  • Cotton fabrics, cotton shirts that are not used, or cotton pillowcases
  • Four strips of cotton fabric for a binder with a length of about 45 cm, can be replaced with 4 laces of the same length
How to make:
  1. Wash and dry the fabric first so that it is sterile when used
  2. Measure the length of the cloth and the scissors into two rectangular sections, each measuring about 30x15 cm 
  3. Differentiate the pattern of the front and back of the mask so they are not easily confused
  4. Stack two rectangular fabrics, sew the back of the fabric facing forward, then sew each side of the layer until the fabric coalesces
  5. Leave a little space at both ends of the fabric to slip the fabric strip or shoelaces
  6. Slide the straps at each end of the fabric, holding them with pins or paper clips so the straps don't move
  7. Sew all layers of fabric in a backstitch or repeat sewing so that the stitches are stronger in all parts 
  8. Fabric strap masks are ready to use 
Make cloth masks effective this way

So far there has been no research that states cloth masks can hold the coronavirus from spreading. However, as an emergency precaution, cloth masks must still be used with due regard to the following steps:
  • Use a mask by holding a strap or rubber, not the front of the fabric
  • Make sure your mouth, nose, and chin are well covered
  • Cloth masks can only be worn for 4 hours after that replace masks with clean cloth masks
  • Remove the mask by holding the rubber or strap, remove the filter layer (tissue or coffee filter) if any, replace with a new one each will be reused 
  • Cloth masks can be cleaned by washing with water and detergent in the washing machine or washing manually
  • After removing the cloth mask, do not directly hold the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water, if not possible use a hand sanitizer right after removing the mask
Previously the government and health workers suggested to always keep a distance of about 2 meters when meeting with others. But recent research has revealed that droplet particles can be thrown more than 2 meters and remain on the surface for some time. 

The use of homemade cloth masks can certainly help in times of crisis as emergency mask supplies, but physical distancing is still the key to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Perform effective physical distancing by staying at home, away from the crowd, and not traveling when it's not necessary.