10 Genius Face Mask Hacks You Should Know
The next time you wear a face mask, consider using one of these nifty tricks.
Wearing a face mask is the number one way to protect yourself and others from contracting COVID-19. But while you have likely been using these shields for a few months, there are still a handful of tips and tricks you probably don't know about your mask that could make them even more effective and comfortable. Here, we've compiled some quick and simple face masks hacks that will make your life much easier during the pandemic. And for more mask tips from the experts, check out If Your Face Mask Doesn't Have This, It's Not Fully Protecting You, Doctor Says.
Tying the ear loops to fit it for your face
While masks are mostly one-size-fit-all, our faces are not. And if you have a smaller face, you'll know how difficult it can be to get your mask to fit without sliding off or gaping at the sides. Luckily, there are a few ways to fix this. The easiest method is to twist the straps into a criss-cross pattern before putting them over your ears, so the mask is more snug.
Another solution comes thanks to Olivia Cuid, MD, a dentist in Montreal who went viral on TikTok after she showed this nifty trick. First, fold your mask in half, then tie each ear loop in a knot close to the edge of the mask, then open the mask and fold in the cloth at the sides to close the small space by each ear loop. When you put it on, it should be in a circular shape, similar to an N95 mask. And for more protective gear ideas, check out This New Face Mask Is As Effective As an N95.
Wearing a headband to make your mask more comfortable
As many healthcare workers can attest, wearing masks 24/7 can really irritate your ears. That's why they came up with this smart face mask hack. Sew two large buttons onto the side of a cloth headband, and loop your mask around the buttons instead of around your ears. Or, if you're really in a bind, take a paperclip and fasten the ear loops through it so the straps now sit behind the back of your head. Not only is this more comfortable, but it'll also reduce the pressure on your cheeks, nose, and chin.
Using rubber bands to create an N95 mask
When the world is on fire, people tend to get creative in finding solutions. Such is the case with Sabrina Paseman and Megan Duong, both former employees at Apple, who came up with this innovative face mask hack. Take a regular surgical mask and three rubber bands. Link the three rubber bands so they create a chain, and put the mask on your face. Then, take the middle rubber band and secure it around the mask on your face so it forms a tight seal circling your nose and mouth. Pull the remaining rubber band on each side so it wraps around your ears. For additional step-by-step instructions, you can watch this video. And if you want to learn which mask alternatives to avoid, check out You Should Not Be Wearing One of These Instead of a Face Mask, CDC Warns.
Adding a DIY filter into your cloth mask
If you're wearing a cute, fabric mask that you either made or bought on Etsy, you may have noticed a hidden pocket in its interior. It turns out, this pocket has a purpose—it's a place to slip a filter for an extra layer of protection. Though a HEPA filter is the safest bet, there are many DIY options you can find around your home, too. According to research from the air purifier company Smart Air, coffee filters can help capture 62 percent of particles and a double layer of paper towels can increase the mask's effectiveness by 33 percent. You can also fold two tissues and slide them into the pocket, May Chu, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health and advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), told NPR.
Cleaning your glasses so they don't fog
There's nothing worse than wearing glasses with a mask and having them fog up to the point where you can't see what you're doing. Thankfully, there's a doctor to save the day with her nifty advice. In an interview on May 26, Yuna Rapoport, MD, told Martha Stewart magazine, "Take some dish soap, a single drop is sufficient, and rub it onto both sides of each lens before rinsing it off." Doing this not only cleans your glasses but also leaves a transparent layer that prevents your lenses from temperature changes that cause clouding.
Additionally, you can use shaving cream as a substitute for dish soap, or, fold a tissue and press it between your mouth and mask to absorb your breath and prevent your lenses from fogging. Rapoport says she has also used medical or athletic tape or band-aids to attach the top of her mask to her face in the operating room so less air escapes up to her glasses.
Ironing your mask to kill any lingering germs
Though you should be cleaning your mask regularly, it's not the washing part that really kills the most germs. In fact, drying your clothes on high heat—which is about 130 degrees Fahrenheit for a normal laundry dryer—can kill coronavirus in 20 minutes. If that doesn't cut it, the next best thing is to iron your mask, which is so hot that it's guaranteed to knock out any pathogens. And to learn more about a common face mask care mistake, check out You're Probably Not Washing Your Face Mask Enough, According to the CDC.
Storing your mask in a brown paper bag
Most people come home and throw their mask on the nearest table or surface, but doing so would be a grave mistake. There's one easy way to store your mask where it's safe from any other germs that you might be tracking in your home. "The best material to store your mask in is something that most people can easily buy and find: a paper lunch bag," Ashley Roxanne, DO, a resident physician in Atlanta, Georgia, previously told Best Life. "Paper bags are more breathable than most other containers, which makes them a less favorable environment for microbes." This aligns with guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommend that face masks should be folded and stored in a clean sealable paper bag.
Holding it up to the light to see if it's effective
If you're making a DIY mask, you need to use the most effective materials. An easy way to check this is if you hold the mask up to the light. Scott Segal, MD, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina, told MarketWatch: "Hold it up to a bright light. If you see light between fibers, it's not a good filter. Even on dark fabrics, if you hold them up to light or to the sun, you will still be able to see if the fabric's fibers will show or not."
Taping over the valve of a N95 mask
By now, we know that N95 masks with valves are the least protective against the coronavirus, as the valves don't have any filter to stop respiratory particles from getting in or out. Though ideally, you'd use another kind of mask instead, there is a quick fix. According to The Los Angeles Times, you can tape over the valve to stop droplets from coming in or out. And for more great information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Getting your iPhone face ID to recognize you
When face masks became the main health measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, many iPhone users realized that the facial recognition software was no longer working to unlock their phones. However, you can get around this problem with a few simple steps. Go to the face ID settings in your phone and click on "set up an alternate appearance." Then, fold your face mask in half and hold it over one side of your face while your phone scans you. Repeat for the other side of your face, and voilà!