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Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
About Making Face Masks for
Iowa City Healthcare Facilities

UPDATED 04/18/2020  5:00 PM

Do I need to wash my fabric or mask? 

You DO need to prewash all fabric in HOT water before making it into a mask to make sure it won't shrink in the hospital or nursing home laundry. You DO NOT need to wash the completed masks before turning them in because the healthcare facilities will launder and sterilize them when they receive them.

Should I use printed or plain fabrics for the masks?  

Either is fine with the agencies and facilities in Iowa City, however, for the Pleated masks, consider using plain fabric on the inside and a print on the outside. That will make it easier for users to remember which side is "dirty" when they have to take it off for a few minutes and then put it back on.

The Pleated Mask pattern calls for nonwoven sew-in interfacing. Can I use woven and/or fusible interfacing instead?

We don't recommend using either woven or fusible interfacing, but if you've already included it, feel free to donate the masks. We’ve been told that germs have an easier time penetrating woven fabric because of the spaces between the threads so that's why we’ve specified nonwoven. We’re also concerned about the downside of prolonged breathing through whatever chemicals are in the fusing materials, so we’re recommending nonfusible aka sew-in. 

What if I don't have any nonwoven sew-in interfacing available?


The interfacing helps, but it isn’t critical. Many face mask patterns don’t use any at all. If you don't have sew-in interfacing available, you could just go with the two outer layers of high-thread count cotton fabric or perhaps put in a third layer of woven cotton to add little extra filtering in lieu of the nonwoven interfacing. Some volunteers have asked if thin batting would work, but we believe that it would be difficult to breathe through, so we don't recommend it.

If I can't sew, how can I obtain face masks for personal use by myself and my family?

The Iowa City Area Face Mask Project has focused on providing face masks to healthcare facilities, public service agencies, and social service organizations and is not equipped to provide individuals wiith face masks. The Centers for Disease Control provides instructions for do-it-yourself face masks, including a couple of no-sew options. Volunteers at the Iowa City Senior Center are making face masks for local older adults and distributing them through TRAIL of Johnson County.If you know of other local options, please let us know so we can list them here!

Face masks for individuals/families
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