military personel making a DIY facemask

Image Credit: Sgt. Joe Parrish

How Car Covers are Protecting against the Storm of COVID-19

By John Linden

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are discovering how car covers can protect more than just your vehicle. Covercraft Industries, for example, is leveraging its production experience to manufacture urgently needed Personal Protective Equipment. They are now producing gowns and masks to help protect healthcare workers and first responders. Some Car cover manufacturers are even encouraging their customers to repurpose car covers as face masks, to prevent the spread of the virus.

While these stand-in face coverings are not medical-grade, the multilayered weatherproof fabric does an admirable job at protecting your mouth and nose aerosol transmission. And while face mask availability has improved, DIY masks are still a great option for preventing the spread of COVID-19

To Mask Or Not To Mask

Months into the nation-wide virus response there is still some uncertainty as to whether face masks are necessary. This is partly due to the government’s initial advice not to wear masks, which we now know was motivated by fear that there were not enough medical-grade masks for the whole population. However, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) now advises you to wear a face mask in public, and many states have introduced new regulations requiring them.

To satisfy the need for masks without putting undue strain on the medical manufacturing industry, many sources are recommending homemade or DIY masks. Get creative and follow some simple instructions and you may find that you have all that you need to make your own protective face coverings.

Materials That Are Good For Making Face Masks

Not all materials are created equal. The main function of a face mask is to form a barrier between your mouth and the aerosolized virus, so thin and porous materials aren’t enough. On top of that, the mask should fit snugly against your face, so bulky or inflexible materials are not ideal.

Researchers have found that multiple layers of fabric work best; tightly-woven cotton, in combination with another layer of polyester, spandex, or flannel, can provide a strong enough defense. Another tip is ‘the light test’: hold your material up to a light and see how much shines through. The less light you see, the better the fabric.

A number of regular household items could provide enough fabric to make a reliable face mask. Quilted sheets with high thread count, vacuum cleaner bags, or even cotton t-shirts could be layered up and sewn together for a good level of protection. Car covers are a great option too, as they’re often built of multilayered fabric designed to block wind rain and light.

military sewing diy car cover facemask

Image Credit: Sgt. Adam Armstrong

How To Sew Your Own Face Mask

Now that you’ve sourced your materials, follow this CDC guide for sewing them together to make a reliable face mask. For this method, you will need a sewing machine, thread, two 10”x6” rectangles of material, and two 6” strips of elastic.

  1. Once you’ve cut out your 10”x6” rectangles, stack them on top of each other, fold over the long sides ¼ inch and sew a hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
  2. Thread the elastic through the hem using a needle and knot the ends together. You can also use hair ties or elastic bands.
  3. Pull the elastic tight so the mask fits snugly to your face, then hide the knots under the hem and stitch them in place.

If you don’t have access to a sewing machine and aren’t confident with your needle skills, the CDC also has instructions for making a foldable mask made from a 20”x20” square of material.

How To Wear Your Face Mask

Now that you have your cloth face covering, there are some things to bear in mind whilst wearing them.

It’s also important to remember that a face mask by itself is not enough. Face masks are an important part of mitigating the risk of viral spread, but can also give the wearer a false sense of security. Wearing a face mask, homemade or store-bought, is not a substitute to regularly washing your hands and social distancing (6’ or more).

Conclusion

The best science available says that wearing a cloth face-covering in public is an essential part of stopping the spread of COVID-19. It will not only help prevent you from getting sick but prevent asymptomatic individuals from passing on the virus without realizing it. With easy to follow instructions from the CDC and readily available materials at home, there’s no reason you can’t protect yourself and others with a homemade face covering.