Frequently asked questions

Can I donate to UKMN?

Yes - if you think our very sleepy team deserve a coffee donate to us here. Jokes aside, all funds raised from our Ko-Fi page will be directed back in to the project; from website running costs, to adevertising, to (hopefully) bigger things like billboards and merch!

I want to help - how do I join?

Brilliant! We'd love more people to get on board. If you'd like to join the team, email us at ukmasknetwork@gmail.com with the subject line UKMN Newbie. You can also support us by donating, following us on social media, sharing our posts, and telling your friends. Check our Get Involved page for more info.

Do homemade masks stop the spread of Covid-19?

Yes! They work by trapping your breath, making it harder for you to pass on the virus to those around you if you do have it.

Click here for the science.

Do masks stop you breathing?

No - doctors wear surgical masks for hours during surgery without compromising oxygen flow. Oxygen particles are much much smaller than virus particles and water droplets, so these can still get through your mask whilst keeping the virus out!

If you feel like you can't breathe while wearing a face mask, try a different style of mask, or a mask made out of more breathable materials (such as cotton).

My glasses keep fogging up, how do I stop that?

  • Soak your glasses in soapy water and allow to dry - this creates a thin layer that prevents your glasses from steaming up as much.
  • Wear your glasses slightly further down your nose, on top of the mask.
  • Use nose wires to improve the fit of your mask.
  • Use medical tape on the top edge of the mask, under your glasses.
  • Try a different style, or size of face mask. If you don't seem to be able to stop your glasses from fogging up, it could indicate that it just doesn't fit that well, leaving lots of gaps for unfiltered air to flow through.
See our Face Masks 101 section for more help on choosing the right face mask.

My family won’t wear masks, how do I talk to them about this?

Educate and empathise! Talking to someone with empathy is likely to be more effective in convincing others to wear a mask than shaming them for their actions might. Try to understand why they may not want to wear a mask (whether its the loops irritating your ears, or feeling like breathing is harder) and aim to come to a solution together.

See our hints and tips section on how to ensure your mask fits correctly, and what is the best type of mask for you. Acknowledge that wearing a mask is an inconvenience - just a necessary one. And the more people wear a mask now the less time we will have to wear them!

But masks hurt my nose.

This can be an unfortunate side effect of being one of the big-nosed folk. Welcome.

Flexible wire in the top edge of a face mask can help improve fit and reduce irritation.

You may also want to consider a different style of mask, or different size.

Check out Face Masks 101 for more help choosing the right mask.

But masks hurt my ears.

Depending on the type and fit of your mask, ears can become irritated after time. This can be avoided by using masks that have elastics that go round the head, or ties at the back, rather than ear loops.

You can also buy and make ear-savers and headbands with buttons on them.

If you wear glasses, you can fix buttons to the arms of your glasses using elastic bands, and hook the ear elastics onto those.

There are no masks available.

This is simply not true. One of our founders has literally hundreds in her house, right now. We are creating resources that make it easier to find the makers, donators, movers and shakers of the face mask realm. Please check out:
Buy, Sell, Donate, Accept Face Masks UK UK Mask Network Open Source Database

How often should I change my mask ?

Reusable masks should only be worn ONCE in between washes, and should be changed if they become wet. Disposable masks should be disposed of safely as soon as possible after one wear, and should NOT be washed or reused.
You may find that you have to change your mask every few hours if you are out and about for a long period of time.
Wash your hands before putting on your mask and try not to touch it too much. Once you get home, take off the mask trying to only touch the elastic part of the mask, and put it in to wash. It may be handy to have clean masks, a ‘used masks’ bag and hand sanitiser next to the entrance to your home for convenience.

How many masks do I need?

At least 2. One to wash and one to wear. Ideally you should have several masks for practicality of washing and drying, as well as having a spare mask for emergencies.

I’m healthy, should I still wear a mask?

Yes! Not only can healthy and young people get ill because of the virus, but people can pass on the virus without knowing they are infected. Wearing a mask protects other people from you, as well as protecting you from others.

What are the benefits of wearing a mask?

  • Protects you from the virus (and other colds and infections!)
  • Protects your loved ones from the virus
  • Protects at risk individuals and communities
  • Reduces allergens breathed in - less hayfever!
  • Allows us to return to normal quicker
  • Looking fly

I have children - should I make them wear masks?

Children under two should not wear face masks, because it can pose a hazard.

Older children can wear a face mask, but this is not mandatory.
If you choose to give your children masks, make sure that you make or buy a mask that fits them properly, assess the risks and explain to them how to wear a mask correctly.

I can't afford to buy face masks

Never fear, there are lots of do-gooders out there, wanting to help you.

Check out and post in your local community mutual aid groups (often on facebook), and contact your local sewing groups.

You can also find links at:
Community Mask Trees

Buy, Sell, Donate, Accept Face Masks UK UK Mask Network Database
Still stuck? Drop us an email, and we'll do our best to put you in touch with someone who is donating.

How to masks affect people with disabilities?

Try not to challenge people who aren't wearing a face mask unless you know them quite well - they may have valid reasons for choosing not to.

Some people may struggle to wear a face mask: people with sensory disorders such as autism; people with conditions such as asthma that already make breathing more difficult; and people with some mental illnesses, to name a few.

There are communication difficulties that come with wearing face masks. They make it harder to read and give facial expressions, which can be very important to people who are receiving care. They also completely prevent lip-reading, which seriously impacts people with hearing difficulties who rely on lip-reading as a form of communication.

In some cases, a person may politely ask you to remove your mask in order to make communication easier. If this happens, try to stay 2 metres apart, and remove your face mask while communicating. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then write things down.
There are types of face mask out there that have clear panels which means that people can see your lips through the face mask. These are less common than opaque face masks, because they are harder to construct, and it can be harder to get the right materials. They also have a tendency to fog up.
If you would like to make communicator face-masks, check out this pattern for the "Happy Turtle" face mask with a clear panel.
If you are already making communicator face masks, and would like to share them, please add your details to:
UK Mask Network Database

post in:

Buy, Sell, Donate, Accept Face Masks UK

or get involved with local community organisations, including Big Community Sew and Community Mask Trees.