The rules and issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and information changes consistently. Please take note of when our content was written and always go to the sources we’ve provided for the most current guidance.
Today we’re sharing some information from the Government of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) about what to look for in a non-medical mask and how to make one at home.
You may also find our other blog posts about masks helpful:
When is wearing a non-medical mask recommended?
The government of Canada is now recommending that people wear non-medical masks or facial coverings in the community when it’s not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings.
This is particularly important in crowded public settings such as:
- shopping areas
- public transportation
However, it’s important to remember that according to the Government of Canada, wearing non-medical masks has not been proven to protect you from contracting COVID-19.
Instead, they can help protect the people around you by acting as a physical barrier to help stop the spread of respiratory droplets, especially if you cough or sneeze.
To keep everyone safe, mask wearing must be combined with other preventative measures (like physical distancing, good hand hygiene, staying home when you’re sick, etc.) to be effective. And, remember that all medical-grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
What should I look for in non-medical masks? How should they be used?
Non-medical face coverings and masks should:
- Allow for easy breathing
- Fit securely to the head (with ties or ear loops)
- Maintain their shape after washing and drying
- Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- Be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment (because you shouldn’t be touching your face while wearing a mask)
- Be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
Non-medical face coverings and masks should not:
- Be shared with others
- Impair vision or interfere with tasks
- Be placed on children under the age of two years
- Be made of non-breathable materials (i.e. plastic)
- Be secured with inappropriate materials (i.e. tape)
- Be made exclusively of materials that fall apart (i.e. tissues)
- Be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance, or anyone who has trouble breathing.
How to make a face mask at home:
You can consider making yourself a fabric mask at home. You can find some tutorials on the Government of Canada website. Here are three options, and the materials you’ll need for each:
- Sew method:
- Two 255 mm by 150 mm rectangles of cotton fabric
- Two 150 mm pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, hair ties)
- Needle and thread (safety pins or a stapler will also work)
- Sewing machine (if available)
- No-sew method (using a t-shirt)
- No-sew method (using a bandana)
- Bandana (or square cotton cloth approximately 510 mm by 510 mm)
- Coffee filter or a folded paper towel
- Rubber bands (or hair ties)
- Scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth)
The BC CDC recommends the following tips to make homemade masks more effective:
Consider your materials:
- Use clean and stretchy 100% cotton material—100% cotton t-shirts or pillowcases are good candidates.
- Material that allows droplets to pass through won’t work.
- If the mask makes it a lot harder to breathe, the seal will be compromised, and the mask will be less effective.
- Ensure the mask fits tightly around the mouth and nose.
- The mask should be comfortable, or you won’t want to consistently wear it.
- Remember that you have to clean/change the mask often.
We hope this information is helpful to you, and that it helps you as you find (or make) a mask that’s right for you!
This is an evolving situation and information is changing all the time, so go to the source for updated information.
Did you like this? You might like these posts too!
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit: what you need to know
- 5 ways to stay active at home and outside while physical distancing
- Talking to kids about COVID-19
- COVID-19: 3 ways to politely tell people to keep their distance
- Masks and COVID-19: what we know right now
- What to know about removing and sanitizing face masks
Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.
Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC:
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
4 thoughts on “Making or finding an effective non-medical mask”
Very impressed by your site & the info on masks. I especially like the section “Where do we fit in?”
So well-written! Kudos, and thanks for doing what you do!
Thank you for your positive feedback, Diane!
What is your position/ recommendation Re: the paper, disposable masks one can purchase at Drug Stores, Health Supply stores and Costco.
Hi Janice, we are sharing the information from BC CDC so we would recommend going to their website for more information. In fact, the site has further information about different types of masks including medical/surgical masks. Visit this page and scroll down to “Types of masks” and you will find more helpful information!