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VERIFY: CDC, WHO do not recommend homemade masks

People are wanting to make masks for medical rooms and themselves. They might be good if nothing else is available, but they should be your last choice.
N95 protective masks (Getty/dontree_m)

WASHINGTON (TEGNA) — Viewer Ann P. sent in a question about making protective masks.

She had seen instructions online and wanted to know if they worked.

Ann is definitely not alone. There are a lot of articles about this right now.

So let’s break this down:


Can you make your own masks? Do they work? And when should you be wearing one?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization, masks are only to be used when caring for someone who is sick or if you, yourself are sick.

Most homemade masks are made out of forms of cloth. While they may be better than nothing in a crisis situation, the CDC and WHO do not recommend their use.


According to the WHO, a person should only wear a mask when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who is sick with the virus.

The CDC suggests the use of a homemade mask like a bandana or a scarf as a last resource when medical masks are not available, but also notes that homemade masks are not PPE (personal protective equipment). This is because their capability to protect health care personnel is unknown. If this option is considered, the homemade mask should be combined with a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face.

The WHO has a guide on mask use and management and specifically said that cloth (cotton, gauze, etc.) are not recommended under any circumstances.

Homemade masks should only be used as a last resource, and they’re not recommended by health authorities. As for making then, while they need to be accompanied by a face shield, they should also be washed properly or disposed of. If someone is following DIY mask instructions, they should follow the pattern of a medical expert, and only as a last resource.