Using Vacuum Bags to Create DIY Surgical Masks
The COVID-19 pandemic has created disruptions in everyone’s lives. One of the most concerning disruptions is the substantial shortage of medical face masks.
Recent studies have suggested that wearing masks during the seasonal flu resulted in a threefold reduction in how much virus was spread through the air. The CDC also recommends that medical workers, who are healthy, wear masks with patients who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to help protect themselves.
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Best Materials for Face Masks
With the current mask storage, many industry professionals are looking into non-conventional materials to create masks to make up for the shortage. A study performed at Cambridge University during the H1N1 flu pandemic concluded that the vacuum bags were one of the top materials to use as a DIY surgical mask.
The filtration and material of the bags helped capture the harmful airborne pathogens and provided protection to the users wearing the mask made of vacuum bags.
How to make a surgical mask with vacuum bags
Do you have a loved one at home who is considered high risk during this pandemic? If you are worried about spreading airborne pathogens, perhaps try making a homemade mask at home. The two most important things to consider when making a mask is breathability and filtration.
Learn how you can make a mask with a vacuum bag with these simple steps:
- Ensure you have a sterile environment as your work station. Clean and sanitize all equipment you will use (such as scissors)
- Leveraging a clean, unused vacuum bag, cut the bag material to cover your nostrils and mouth. Ensure that the material is flexible enough for you to move your head around, but covers the areas needed to provide protection.
- Next, you’ll want to use either elastic or string and connect on the sides of the vacuum bag material. Measure the string to ensure it’s long enough to loop over your ear. Once measured, create two holes on each side of the mask. These will be used for each end of the string to connect to.
- Sew or pin each end of the strings to the holes to connect the strings to the vacuum bag mask.
- Make adjustments as needed to provide protection but to also ensure breathability.
At Stark’s vacuums, we have a variety of vacuum bags that can be used during this pandemic to help create these DIY surgical masks. We have over 8 locations currently open (that offer curbside service) in the Pacific NW, or you can order online. We hope you and your family are staying safe during this pandemic.
We would like to thank our customer, William D., for the great how-to below!
COVID-19 Reusable Mask: Simple Parts, Simple Tools, Simple Build
Imagine being isolated in your home with a loved one starting to experience symptoms that might be COVID-19. If you don’t protect yourself, taking care of that loved one will almost certainly mean you’ll catch it too. But who has a suitable mask these days, with hospitals needing them all and hoarders buying 10x what they need? Just going to the store, now, is a life-threatening activity if you’re unprotected from that coughing person trying to grab the last roll of toilet paper.
This tutorial describes a mask I built from an unexpected resource I would have overlooked if not worried about protecting my family: vacuum bags with micro allergen filtering. As an inventor for 30 years, with more than 50 patents, I’ve learned to look closely at the easily overlooked and to search for simple solutions. Never let perfect be the enemy of good enough.
Look around your house and you’ll likely find that you have unused vacuum bags designed to filter out allergens and bacteria. These bags are designed to filter out micron and even sub-micron sized particles – perfect to help protect yourself from the virus.
While you’re looking, find…
- A foot of small rubber tube
- A wire coat hanger
- A couple of rubber bands.
For tools, you’ll just need:
- A pair of scissors
- Eye protection glasses or goggles
- Something to cut that wire coat hanger (most household plyers have a wire cutter built-in, but a wire cutter or seriously strong garden shears will work, too)
First, put on your eye protection and cut the wire hanger *IDK* inches on each side of a side bend. Next, measure the tubing and cut it so it’s just a bit longer than the hanger you just cut.
Now slide the bent wire through BOTH ends of the tubing. You will need to bend the ends of the wire a bit to allow it to slide all the way in. Cut the rubber bands and attach to the sides of the frame. Try to shape it like a giant teardrop.
Now, place it on your face and bend it to fit around your nose and below your jaw. Open and close your mouth to ensure you can speak freely. Continue adjusting it until it fits against your face all the way around the frame.
Finally, cut the end of the vacuum bag about six inches from the end and insert the bag into the frame. Fold over about one inch of the bag and put it on.
Note that if you are going into public or near an infected person, you’re going to want to cover your mask with a bandana or scarf to ensure it doesn’t get ruined right away by getting fluids on it. Once the mask is dirty and needs replacement, remove it from the frame and throw it away somewhere safe. Wash the frame thoroughly. Cut a new vacuum bag and place it back into the frame.