Follow the CDC's new guidelines to make a cloth face covering in less than 30 seconds. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated April 07, 2020

According to the CDC's new guidelines, homemade cloth face coverings should be worn in public, especially when you're going to the grocery store or pharmacy, to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But because of shortages of FDA-approved surgical masks and N95 respirators, which should be reserved for frontline workers, you'll want to make your own DIY face mask. Don't worry, it's much easier than you might think. In fact, the CDC has recommended a few different ways to craft your own cloth face covering, including a bandana face mask that takes less than a minute to assemble. All you need is a 20-by-20-inch cotton bandana or a tightly woven piece of cotton, two hair ties (or rubber bands), and a coffee filter. Then, make a few folds, following the instructions below or the video above. Wear your bandana face mask every time you head to the grocery store—and don't forget about physical distancing!—to help slow the spread of the virus.

Choosing a Fabric

The CDC suggests using a tightly woven, yet breathable material for your homemade face mask. In the tutorial for a sewn face mask, the agency writes, "Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch." They also include instructions for using a cotton T-shirt or a cotton bandana. Using multiple layers of fabric and adding a filter (such as a coffee filter or HEPA vacuum filter) will also help.

Make It Comfortable

Ideally, the bandana face mask should fit snugly against your face, so there are no gaps between your face and the mask. But, you also want it to be comfortable so that you won't be tempted to touch or readjust the mask. If you do touch the front of the mask, wash your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water.

How to Remove a Face Mask

Take off the mask by the hair ties or rubber bands, rather than touching the front of the bandana.

How to Wash a Cloth Face Mask

Throw away the coffee filter layer after each use, then toss the bandana or fabric in the washing machine. Wash with hot water and detergent, then dry thoroughly.

How to Make a Bandana Face Mask

Gather Your Supplies:

  • Bandana or cotton fabric, approximately 20-by-20 inches
  • Coffee filter (or piece of HEPA vacuum filter)
  • 2 hair ties (or rubber bands or pieces of elastic)

Follow These Steps (from the CDC):

1. Fold the bandana in half widthwise.

2. Cut a piece of coffee filter (approximately 3-by-6 inches), and place in the center of the folded bandana.

3. Fold the top third of the bandana down, then fold the bottom third of the bandana up.

4. Slide the hair ties onto either side of the folded fabric so they are about 6 inches apart.

5. Fold the ends in towards the center, tucking them in if you want.

6. To put on the mask, loop the hair ties over your ears. Adjust the mask to make sure it covers your nose and mouth completely.