A face covering, also called a handcrafted mask, can refer to a face covering made by a company or a face covering that you make yourself at home.

When wear a mask or a face covering

Wearing a face covering, also called a handcrafted mask, in public is strongly recommended especially when physical distancing (2 metres) is not possible, such as when you go to the grocery store or take public transit. When you wear a mask or a face covering in public, you must also follow other safety measures, such as hygiene. For more information, see the Health recommendations for everyone section.

If you're sick, stay home. If you have to go to a clinic or a hospital, wear a procedure mask or, if you don't have one, your face covering until you are given one when you arrive.

Anyone who goes to a health care facility, such as a hospital, a clinic, a doctor’s office or a family medicine group, should wear a procedure mask or a face covering. This recommendation applies to both the patient and the person who is with them. When the person arrives, the staff may ask them to wear a procedure mask.

Children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove their mask or their face covering without assistance should not wear it.

For the hearing impaired

People who work in customer service are being asked, where applicable, to wear a face covering that has a clear window so that people who are hearing impaired can lip read and see facial expressions. Various models of store-bought and handcrafted masks with a clear window are available.

Why wear a mask or a face covering

Not everyone that has COVID‑19 has symptoms. Some people do not even realize that they are infected. Wearing a face covering, also called handcrafted mask, may reduce the risk of an infected person unknowingly transmitting COVID‑19 to others.

Your face covering must be properly used and regularly washed.

How to use a mask or a face covering

1. Wash your hands before use of the face covering, also called handcrafted mask.

2. With one hand, place the face covering over your nose and mouth. Use your other hand to attach it behind your ears with the elastic or string loops.

3. Adjust the face covering to your nose.

4. Now adjust it under your chin.

5. Wash your hands after use of the face covering.

6. Change your face covering if it becomes moist, soiled or damaged.

7. Do not leave the face covering hanging from your neck or an ear. Keep it on your face and avoid touching it. If you do touch your face covering while wearing it, wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible.

8. Remove your face covering by the elastic or string loops without touching the front.

9. Fold the outer parts of the face covering together and place it in a clean bag. You may wash the face covering as soon as you get home, along with the rest of the laundry.


Face covering does not replace the following:

  • Hand washing
  • Physical distancing (2 metres)
  • Isolation at home if you are sick

To find out how to use your face covering correctly, you can also consult the following capsule:

How to make a mask or a face covering

You can easily make a face covering, also called handcrafted mask, with materials found in your home.

If possible, use a tightly woven fabric like cotton that lets air pass through as you breathe. Use at least two thicknesses of cloth and make sure that your face covering is both comfortable and fits well on your face.

You should be able to launder and machine dry the face covering with no damage or warping.

There are numerous types of cloth face covering. Here are three easy-to-make models:

No sew model


  • Bandana or square of cotton cloth approximately 50 x 50 cm
  • Rubber bands or hair ties
  • Scissors, if needed


1. Put the bandana on a table in front of you. Fold the bandana in half. Fold the top corners down and the bottom corners up. You now have a rectangle with two layers of fabric.

2. Fold the top corners toward the middle of the rectangle. Fold the bottom corners toward the middle of the rectangle. You now have a rectangle with four layers of fabric.

3. Place a rubber band around a quarter of the way in on the left. Place a rubber band around a quarter of the way in on the right.

4. Fold both corners on the left toward the middle of the rectangle. Fold both corners on the right toward the middle of the rectangle.

5. Lift the face covering with the rubber bands and put it over your nose and mouth. Secure the face covering by putting the rubber bands behind your ears.

6. Adjust the face covering so that it covers your nose and mouth completely.

Sewn model


  • Two 25 x 15 cm rectangles of cotton cloth
  • Two 15 cm elastics or pieces of string
  • Needle and bobby pin
  • Thread
  • Scissors


1. Cut two 25 x 15 cm rectangles of your cloth. Place one over the other and sew them together.

2. Fold a 0.5 cm width on the long side and sew a hem. Now, sew a 1 cm hem along each of the short sides.

3. Thread the 15 cm x 0.3 cm elastic through the hems on each side of the face covering. These will be the ear loops. Use a big needle or bobby pin for this and tie the ends of each loop tightly. If you don’t have elastics, use string to make the ties longer and attach them behind your head.

4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked into the hems. Gather the sides onto the elastic or string and adjust the face covering to your face. Now stitch the elastic or string in place to keep it from slipping.

To find out how to make your face covering, you can also consult the following capsule:

Source: Inspired by the material developed by the: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 available for free at the following address: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Window model


  • Two 32 x 17 cm rectangles of plain cotton fabric in a neutral colour to facilitate concentrating on lip reading
  • Four 50 cm ribbons or shoe laces
  • Sewing needle
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Protective transparent flexible vinyl heat-resistant window
  • Cut-out printable pattern This hyperlink will open in a new window.


1. Print the cut-out pattern to the desired size. Cut out two 32 x 17 cm cotton rectangles and place one on top of the other.

2. Pin the pattern to the cloth. Cut the cloth to the shape of the pattern, leaving a 1 cm edge for the sewn flaps. Then cut out the window shape in the middle, also leaving a 1 cm edge.

3. Using the scissors, make a dart at each corner of the window, starting from the edge of the cloth and ending at the edge of the pattern.

4. Remove the pattern and reposition the pins 1 cm from the edge of the mask. Put the fabric face to face.

5. Place the four ribbons (or shoelaces) horizontally between the two layers of fabric, from the extremity of the face covering to the centre, threading the excess length through the opening of the window.

6. Sew the perimeter of the shape.

7. Fold the fabric at the centre of the window and sew the edges of the window, one thickness at a time, with a needle and thread.

8. Flip the face covering over by pulling on the ribbons or shoelaces.

9. Cut out an 8.5 x 17 cm rectangle (7 x 14 cm for the child model) out of a piece of transparent vinyl.

10. Insert the vinyl rectangle in the opening of the mask and pin it in place.

11. Machine-sew the edges of the central opening.

12. Position the face covering nose-height and attach the upper ribbons behind your head and above your ears. Now attach the lower ribbons behind your head at the base of the neck. Adjust the face covering to your face.

Tips and instructions

  • Respect the steps and hygiene measures when making the handcrafted mask or face covering.
  • The plastic can also be washed at 60°C if you test beforehand how the base material reacts to high temperatures.
  • Sterilize your face covering every day or after 4 hours of intensive use (for example, if you've talked a lot).
  • Wash it for 30 minutes at 60°C.
  • Store the washed and dry face covering in a resealable plastic bag.
  • To avoid the vinyl fogging up, wipe on some liquid detergent or swimming goggle spray the inside of the vinyl window and let dry.