The entire world is struggling to contain the novel coronavirus which originated from an animal market in Wuhan, China in December last year. The number of cases, as of today, stands at 424,024 with almost 19,000 deaths reported worldwide.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised the masses to take precautionary measures, such as staying indoors, washing hands for 20 seconds and wearing masks when going out, the number of cases is still rapidly increasing.
Owing to the massive demand, there is a huge shortage of hand sanitizers and masks in countries such as Pakistan. Even if available, these items are being sold at higher rates.
These are testing times, demanding every one of us to play our part in containing the deadly virus.
How To Make a Face Mask at Home
You might be wondering how can you get masks if you can’t go outside. Well, here’s how you can make a mask at home:
Hospital workers in the US and other countries have had to make do with make-shift face masks made out of off-the-shelf materials such as marine-grade vinyl, industrial tape, foam and elastic. Materials from bandana and scarf can also be used to fashion alternative face shields.
The easiest method to make a face mask is as follows:
You need the following supplies:
- Kitchen towel/-t-shirt/other materials (listed below)
- Rubber bands
All you have to do is to take two to three layers of the kitchen towel one above the other and make small accordion folds until the paper is folded into a thin and long rectangle. If you don’t have kitchen towels, there are quite a few materials listed at the end along with their effectiveness against the coronavirus.
Tie rubber bands, shoelaces or any other strings on both sides. You can either staple them or punch a hole on the ends and loop the band through.
Stretch it out enough to cover your face and your own DIY face mask is ready. You can do the same with a t-shirt or any other material available.
For your convenience, here’s a video:ARVE Error: src mismatch
src in: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fMA7a6xO3G0?feature=oembed&modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0&autoplay=1
src gen: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fMA7a6xO3G0Actual comparison
src in: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fMA7a6xO3G0?modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0&autoplay=1
src gen: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fMA7a6xO3G0
If you cannot find any masks in your nearby pharmacies, this can definitely work for you. Something is better than nothing.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at how effective different materials are against pathogens:
|Material||Effectiveness Percentage (%)|
|Bacillus atrophaeus||Bacteriophage MS2|
|Vacuum Cleaner Bag||94||86|
Note: Bacillus atrophaeus is a species of black-pigmented bacteria whereas the bacteriophage MS2 is an icosahedral, positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus. Coronaviruses (CoVs) are enveloped positive-sense RNA viruses like the bacteriophage MS2.
The mask effectiveness is offset by the difficulty to breathe through the filter, vacuum bags were rated highly but the effort to breathe makes them less secure.
Using inner filters such as feminine hygiene products for N95 masks is not recommended as an N95 mask once contaminated retain 99.8% of pathogens. Other materials such as teabags, which are antimicrobial, might be used or layered with other materials.
Note that the DIY masks are not ideal, however, these can work quite well in the midst of the deadly pandemic. While these are not for medical professionals who are attending COVID-19 patients, these masks made out of cloth, tissue papers or any other material are the best option for those who have to go out only for small durations.