Mask Up and Make a Difference: To Buy or to Make – What you Need to Know

We’ve noticed lots of people are diligently wearing face masks and cloth face covering around Arizona now and expecting others to wear them, too. You are making a difference! Whether you already have a few trusty face coverings and are making spares for others, or you need some for yourself because your area now requires them, we have information to help you make the best choices while shopping and crafting.

Considerations for all face coverings: 
1. Face coverings should have a minimum of three layers
2. The face coverings should be safe to wash and dry repeatedly at high temperatures
3. They should be comfortable to wear for as long as you need to wear them 
4. They should fit well and not have large gaps around the edges or move too much when you’re speaking
5. They should not require you to touch your face regularly to adjust them
6. You should be able to breathe comfortably through the face covering
7. Check if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the materials
8. You should have several face coverings so that they can be washed and dried each time you wear them
9. For more information and guidance from the WHO, please review their interim guidance and refer to pages 8-11 for information on non-medical masks.
Purchasing a Cloth Face CoveringMaking Your Own Cloth Face Covering
Style & Fit
Check that it has at least 3 layers 

Check if it has adjustable straps/ties or elastic so that it can be fit to your face

Check that it is available in your size

Consider the materials: it should be comfortable, and not made of stretch fabric (except for the ties/ear loops)

Different styles, colors, fabrics and designs are available, so it’s an opportunity to express yourself and find the right one for your needs

Avoid masks with valves, because valves allow your unfiltered breath out, making the mask less effective at protecting others

Purchase & Delivery
Check if it is returnable if it doesn’t fit well  

Consider affordability: paying more doesn’t necessarily make them more effective 

Consider long-term costs: many disposable masks or a couple reusable masks?

Check the delivery timeline to make sure that you won’t be waiting for several weeks to receive it

Consider whether it is machine-washable or will need to be hand-washed and bleached 

Consider whether disposable masks will be more convenient for your lifestyle

Remember: Medical-grade masks should not be purchased, as these should be reserved for healthcare workers, medical first responders, etc.
Sewing and no-sew templates are available from the CDC

Consider the supplies you will need and whether these are available and affordable

Construction tips: 

Shape: Duckbill or pleated shapes tend to fit well 

Material: Minimum 3-layer design: 

Inner layer: absorbent material like tightly-woven 100% cotton (you shouldn’t be able to see through it if you hold it up to light)

Outer later: waterproof material like polyester blend

Middle layer: polypropylene non-woven fabric (such as Oly-Fun or SpunBond), or if that isn’t available use an extra layer of cotton; or leave a pocket for a piece of vacuum bag or even 4 layers of facial tissue

Avoid using stretch fabric for any layers 

Ties: Fabric and elastic both work well
Ties can be made of elastic, any fabric with a slight stretch to it, or even ribbon

Strips of t-shirt, tights, or leggings also work well

Toggle cord locks or sliders can be used on both elastic and fabric for quick and easy adjustment

Other: Pipe cleaners, twist ties, or other flexible metal objects can be added to the nose area of the mask to help with fit
Elastic vs Fabric Ties – Things to Consider!
Elastic bandsFabric ties
Elastic may break down after repeated washing in hot water

You or others may be sensitive to it because latex is a common component in elastic

Easy and quick to put on/take off
Can be used behind the ear or around the head

Elastic may be difficult to find/source currently due to high demand

Can be made of any fabric or material

Durable, even after multiple washings

May be more challenging to put on with tying a knot behind your head

May be more comfortable for over longer periods

Can be made more user-friendly by making them into a drawstring with a toggle cord lock

Easier to adjust fit to different size heads

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