Alternative Facemasks

Because a significant portion of the population who have coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and can transmit the virus to others, the CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings.  It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  The cloth face coverings can also slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators which are still desperately needed for first responders and health care workers.   The Following is from the Minn Dept of Health.


1. Build a mask that tightly encloses the area around the nose and mouth, from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extending onto the cheek beyond the corners of the mouth, so no gaps occur when talking or moving.

2. Use mask material that is tightly woven but breathable. Possibly double-layer the fabric.

  • Masks must be made from washable material such as fabric. Choose a fabric that can handle high temperatures and bleach without shrinking or otherwise deforming.

3. The mask should be tolerant of expected amounts of moisture from breathing.

4. Other Considerations

Suggested materials- outer layer tea cloth, inner layer of a microfleece to wick away moisture, and an inner tea cloth layer. Use an accordion fold to mimic a hospital mask as much as possible and use a fat woven shoelace type material to bind the sides (such as quilt binding). For straps, use elastic straps that loop behind the ears.

Use of alternate facemasks:

1. Alternative facemasks should be donned and doffed per usual CDC protocol.

2. Alternative facemasks should be changed when saturated from condensation build up from breathing, or after a gross contamination event.

3. Dirty and clean facemasks must be housed in separate, clearly labeled containers to prevent cross contamination.

4. Wash dirty masks between each use. Wash in hot water with regular detergent. Dry completely on hot setting.

Design examples:

There is no standard design for a homemade facemask, consider innovation using the design principle above. Below are example designs for consideration:


  • Face Mask Kit (, Providence St. Joseph Health

  • How to sew a simple Fabric Face Mask (, YouTube

Written instructions:

  • How to make a facemask (, Allina Health

  • Face Mask Directions (, Joan Glass

  • Facemask: A picture tutorial (

  • Taiwanese Doctor Teaches How to DIY Cloth Face Mask (

  • Can DIY Masks Protect Us from Coronavirus? (

  • DIY Homemade Masks vs. What’s the Best Material? (

  • DIY Cloth Face Mask (