Homemade Masks In A Time Of Shortage

Due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, there has been a huge shortage of N95 masks. [] from Smart Air has been working on designs for a DIY mask that may be able to protect those who haven’t been able to secure their own masks. While there may be an abundance of memes around the various material people have been able to use to substitute for the filters, there is some very real science behind the sorts of materials that can effectively protect us from the virus.

According to a studied performed at Cambridge University during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, while surgical masks perform the best at capturing Bacillus atrophaeus bacteria (0.93-1.25 microns) and Bacteriophage MS virus (0.023 microns), vacuum cleaner bags, and tea towels, and cotton T-shirts were not too far behind. The coronavirus is 0.1-0.2 microns, well within the range for the results of the tests.

As it turns out, cotton homemade masks may be quite effective as alternatives – not to mention reusable. They also found out that double layering the masks didn’t help with improving the protection against viruses. On the other hand, one significant design choice was the breathability of the material. While vacuum cleaner bags may be quite effective at keeping out small particles, they aren’t as comfortable or easy to breathe in as cotton masks.

Have you tried making your own cotton masks? In a time when hospitals are running low on surgical masks, it’s possibly the best option for helping to keep much-needed medical supplies in the hands of those helping at the front line.

[Thanks to pie for the tip!]

526 thoughts on “Homemade Masks In A Time Of Shortage

        1. Go for it if that’s what suits you for your own use case. However generally, people may react to the adhesives or find that it sticks poorly to a greasy nose. Antisnoring nose strips may be a source of “sticky enough with biocompatible adhesive” things to use, but you’d have to find a good second adhesive to stick those to the masks. Also it’s not really so much the over the bridge part that is the problem, but the inside angle that the mask will try to shorten over, which will also be difficult with adhesive methods as it will try to pull off.

          Another idea. While not a source easy to find in bulk, for personal use masks, the foil that is used to seal cans of coffee in Canada seems a little thicker than average pie pan foil and may when rolled take a bend well. Thicker foil might also be found in oven liner trays.

          1. I like the idea of the of coffee cans. I have been using thin aluminum sheet metal that I cut up 3″x 1/2″. I clip the corners and cover with electrical tape. Works really well, and can pick it up in a hardware store.
            Wire also works, too. But I have to install a little minky nose bridge to make it comfortable and this adds time. The aluminum sheet metal doesn’t need this. Happy sewing, everyone!

    1. My wife used a stronger version of “bread ties” in making ours.
      (plastic coated wire often used to secure things (such a toys, in display packaging, or binding power cords)

    2. If you cut the metal strip inside a donut bag into 3 pieces. Hot glue it into the top of a fabric mask add extra hot glue on top of it so it doesn’t scratch your face. It works great. I’ve put it in my mask and it vapor locks it to my face. When I breathe I can see the mask move up and down with my breath.

  1. Please read how masks function. Most of these mask designs give people a false sense of security. I have worked in the Environmental and Health and Safety Field for almost 20 years and get training in the use and function of respirators. I applaud peoples desire to help, but mask that do not use rated materials and not fitted correctly do more harm than good as they give you a false sense of security and people will take more risks.
    I am including a link that offers a very good, but basic description of how N95 rated mask work from the man who invented most of the materials and designs of the N95 masks.

    1. People are capable of understanding that masks are only partially effective. The overstated refrain “…a false sense of security…” discourages a measure that can help slow down the rate of infection and has been used in many other countries. I understand this and I stay isolated and wash my hands and don’t believe that masks alone are going to stop the disease. Still, a mask is a partial barrier and that’s better than nothing.

      1. I’ve looked for studies on tf=he dreaded “false sense of security”. There’s very little and what there is is weak and not really to the point. So, it’s medics and scientists guessing and saying that because they are so (up themseleves) their guesses are worth believeing. And then there is “evidence based medicine” which tells us “if it’s a guess then say it is and afterwards stfu”

    2. masks do not cause a false sense of security in anyone that has been given proper instructions how to handle them. Some people take risks inherently and most of them will also wear their mask wrong whether it is certified NIOSH or not. Everyday people don masks in the course of their work. I know for a fact even a cartridge style respirator can loose its seal. Give people a little credit man. These are not just do good-ers they are hacking a situation that is in need of a hack.

  2. I went to Home Depot and bought a MERV 12 Honeywell air filter, which is made of polypropolene fabric. I wish I could have gotten MERV 13, but they didn’t have it, however they are available online. My plan is to cut up the air filter and insert it into a pocket in the cloth sewn mask. From everything I have researched there is no fiberglass in the filter, however! this was not easy to find out – and it looks as though I will need a pair of wirecutters to cut the thin chicken wire type stuff in the filter paper. Does anyone know if this is a reasonable hack to make cloth masks work better? The MERV 12 says it filters out “virus carriers”. Thank you

    1. Use the Ridged VF6000 shop vac filter I used the HEPA filter but the others work. Cut the filter away from the rubber ends and you will have a piece of pleated filter about 8’ long.
      Cross cut filter 10 folds long. Hem over the top fold to the inside with a piece of then wire
      Inside and use an office stapler to fasten the hem down with the wire inside. Don’t place staples in the center of the hem Do the same at the bottom but use piece of elastic inside the hem . Staple one end stretch the elastic slightly staple other side and place 2 more staples in the hem . Lay the mask face down and fold in half at right angle to pleats.
      Pull the pleats up in the corners and staple them together. This will make a 3D shaped mask. The pleats add surface area and make it easier to breath through. Staple an ear piece – elastic rubber bands on anything thing that works to hold it on the face to the folds at the corners. I placed the ones I made into nearly boling water 180 degrees for a few minutes placed them into the dryer at high heat dry them completely and place in individual zip lock bags to make them as sanitary as possible. There is lots of different ways to do this whatever works. The filter material is very stiff and water resistant and staples hold very well and there is no need to sew them. You could properly wash them and use over but I have not tried that. Or boil and dry them again. One filter will make about 15 masks and cost with the HEPA filter used is about $2.50 about half hat if you use the white filters.

      1. I haVe read people are using sew in interfacing for a filter layer inbetween two cotton layers. I am looking at featherweight, not sure which thickness would be best. Any comments?

          1. I had the same idea so trying it today Cotton layer, Felt layer, Fish tank filter with out the plastic insert, left the charcoal in the filter and sewed it shut, then cotton layer. Still able to move air easily and the cotton is nicer than the surgical masks we have for work against my skin. Looking for research but not finding much.

          2. I finally found s use for my charcoal coffee filters. Coffee maker broke and I was about to toss 200 filters. Will make the mask with a small inside pocket that I can place the filter and change as need it. Hope it works. 👍🙏

          3. Hi! I had the same idea and purchased small soft carbon fish tank filters, thin maxi pads, and interfacing for the inside pocket of the masks I am making. What do you think?

          4. Charcoal is only good for odors and taste. These do not filter out viruses. Think of a Brita filter. Try using ‘burn’ sheets from a medical supply. They’re cheap, made from non-woven polypropylene and still available. And they prevent viruses and bacteria from bing transmitted.

          1. I use Pellon 809 fusible. It holds water, although I only tested it for 2-3 minutes. But it is breathable. My theory is that water is: The diameter of a water molecule (H2O) is closely calculated to be about 0.000282 µm (micrometers – millionths of a meter) in diameter. You may say this number (0.000282 µm) as: “Two-hundred-Eighty-Two millionths of a micrometer” (or micron).
            So if it stops water, it should stop the virus.

          1. Urgent! Fiberglass alert!/ Many vacuum filters & HEPA filters contain fiberglass – almost always! Do not put that in a facemask !! Note: filter products are made from glass fibers, cellulose fibers, polymers or synthetic fibers. This means checking up on each individual type & manufacturer.

        1. I use Pellon 809 fusible. It holds water, although I only tested it for 2-3 minutes. But it is breathable. My theory is that water is: The diameter of a water molecule (H2O) is closely calculated to be about 0.000282 µm (micrometers – millionths of a meter) in diameter. You may say this number (0.000282 µm) as: “Two-hundred-Eighty-Two millionths of a micrometer” (or micron).
          So if it stops water, it should stop the virus.

          1. This does not take into account the surface tension of water, which is a large factor in waterproof yet breathable fabrics. I cant tell you what the pore size is, but it is certainly bigger than you calculate here.

        2. featherweight to midweight NON-WOVEN. Go to fabricpatch.net and under the Covid 10 tab, there are 3 videos you can watch. The 2nd video explains the different types of interfacing to use.

      2. The state of CA has found millions of N 95s but the expiration date is up. Same thing with the feds. Old N95s millions of them. Problem is when they get old the elastic bands that hold them on become brittle and break sometimes when there being used. I know this from old dust masks I have laying around for years. Also it was just noted in a news article. Might think about some kind of device to hold them in place so they can be safe to use. Being a shortage of elastic and all.

        1. Any idea how the diy community could get our hands on these expired masks!? We could RAPIDLY replace the elastics & get these onto needy faces & save lives…not to mention the reduced cost factor. I’m not being petty here either! I’ve been trying to find someway to put my talents to use in this crises because I’m currently broke. I’m positive I’m not the only one in this boat. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

          1. If people are making cotton masks can we just lay the cotton mask on top of the n95 mask w bad elastic? Then fasten with the cotton mask ties… ? Like a bra or “skin” for the expired masks?

          2. I had several old surgical masks around. The old glue that holds the elastic onto the mask fails. I took them all and added super glue to each connection where they pop off. Seems to work now.

          1. Are hepa vacuum bags safe to use inside a mask with a pocket for the filter.
            Also can anyone tell me if Unwomen interfacing fabric to used a filter to keep particles smaller than .3 from entering the mouth and nose.

      3. Urgent! Fiberglass alert!/ Many vacuum filters & HEPA filters contain fiberglass – almost always! Do not put that in a facemask !! Note: filter products are made from glass fibers, cellulose fibers, polymers or synthetic fibers. This means checking up on each individual type & manufacturer.

        1. Wow I am glad you posted this I have been making masks using cotton on the outside and vacuum bag layer on the inside I wasn’t sure if it contains fiberglass??? I hope that more people are aware of this

        2. Always check the manufacturer. The micro-lined bags I’m using do not have fiberglass in them according to the manufacturer. They filter to .1 micron. Combined with a double-layer cotton mask it gives you pretty good protection. I have no problem letting my adult children,husband, and family wear these for trips to the grocery store etc…

      4. Looking at CDC and other sites for construction of N95 masks. Honeywell’s website says the material is non-woven polypropylene.
        I found polypropylene pads still for sale online. Can these be used to help filter?


        They’re being sold for a different purpose but it seems to be the same material. Maybe it count be sewn into a homemade mask between outer pieces of cotton fabric?

    2. Yes that’s very similar to what I’m doing except I was able to get the MERV 13 pleated filters. i’ve also been doing quite a bit of research and what it says is that even though it says filters up to 0.3, it actually filters 99% of up to 0.1 because there’s a .8 0.3 where regular particles Follow the airstream in and out but smaller than 0.3 they can’t follow the airstream they just bounce around and get caught in the filter anyway. So I’m completely in agreement with you and if you use the Olsen masks, you can cut a 2” x 2” piece of tinfoil baking pan, fold over the edges, and glue.

    3. I have been sewing cotton masks for family and friends. I use MERV 16 filters, available online only, not Home Depot. These filters are used in hospitals, surgery wards. My masks are constructed of two cotton layers with an opening in the interior cotton layer in order to insert the cut up filter. MERV 16 filters do block 0.3 micron sized particles such as viruses. I began doing research 6 weeks ago. Found an easy pattern video on YouTube and I ordered supplies online 5 weeks ago. Began sewing 4 weeks ago. I even purchased a sewing machine. I don’t sell the masks I make, I give them away. Also, I spray the mask back and front after each use with 91% or 95% Isopropyl alcohol AND I zap the mask on both sides with UV light. The MERV 16 filter is changed once or twice A YEAR at hospitals. Good luck to all of you!!

      1. I’m an RN and want to sew some masks also. Do you use the pleated air conditioner filters and cut them up? I looked at Walmart and got thoroughly confused. Where can I order them from? Thank you.

        1. This morning I thought about using microfiber towels/washcloths instead of bandanas; then I happened on Carbon microfiber polishing cloths from Autopia.com. I ordered 12-16×16 seamless cloths for $19.99us shipping. If you read the tech spectator as well as the MSDS, it looks promising. The customer service found no reason for not using them as per my plan. Should receive in 1 week. I’ll let you know…

        1. Urgent! Fiberglass alert!/ Many vacuum filters & HEPA filters contain fiberglass – almost always! Do not put that in a facemask !! Note: filter products are made from glass fibers, cellulose fibers, polymers or synthetic fibers. This means checking up on each individual type & manufacturer.

      2. The virus can remain active on the surface of the cotton mask and on the Merv filter. It’s not just about preventing inhalation. The still have to be cycled as long as 9 days.

      3. Angela, you’ve clearly done your research on this…just two questions if you don’t mind:
        1. Do you put the filter in a pocket in a regular cotton-made mask? Just want to be sure i understand…as I have seen patterns with the pockets.
        2. What does the “UV light” step do for the mask? Asking only because this entire area of viruses and germs is new to me.

        Thanks SO much!

      4. Angela Gtz said: “AND I zap the mask on both sides with UV light”

        Bacteria, mold and viruses are susceptible to UVC BUT it is important to use it correctly. First off, the amount of UVC needed varies. One mold, bacteria or virus type may require very little UVC and another orders of magnitude more UVC. Plus, only the illuminated stuff gets damaged, items in shadowed areas are not affected.

        A UVC source puts out a specific amount of UVC and as the source ages, the output decreases. The amount of UVC on a surface falls off inversely proportional to the square of the distance between surface and source … read as “falls off fast”.

        So … UVC works but proper application is required to meet the objective of disabling the bacteria, mold or virus. Exceeding the intensity/time is OK, too little does not do the damage required.

      5. How thick is the actual paper media inside the MERV 16 filters? The MERV 13 paper looks to be quite manageable, but I was daunted by the thickness of the MERV 16 Fliters themselves. I thought that it would be hard to fashion that paper into the kind of mask I’m using. Thanks.

    4. hi. i made mine using the same product. i actual kept the wire. i was patient and cut the entire piece that i need just a little bigger. then i fold the sides down and sewed it. i then use a small piece of the wire and filter and made a 2” long 1/4” wide piece of filter. and sewed that outside of the mask but on the inside where your nose rests. and that became my clip so it would not pocket. but the cheeks

    5. I was just thinking of doing this with my 3M MERV 14 furnace filter. FYI, filters don’t have to stop viruses but the cough nuclei (droplets or virus carriers) they hicth a ride in. These droplets are much larger than the 0.1 to 0.2 microns for the COVID-14 virus.

    6. Please stop buying this material! Sewing it in a mask will not help since it doesn’t seal around your face! There are people building certified masks that need it, and it’s running out!

      1. Who is running out of the N95 fabric? I might be able to get them connected with a large-volume supplier. Not for the average consumer – but if they are making masks at volume – lets get them the material.

    7. Yes if you can work with the wire that is woven into the “fabric” or just use the pieces as a filter component instead of the whole mask – seems like it could be a comfort issue or wearability issue. I just checked this exact question with an indoor air quality expert I know. MERV 13 is maybe ideal if you can get it.
      Note – Fiberglass alert!/ Many other vacuum filters & HEPA filters contain fiberglass – almost always! Do not put that in a facemask !! Note: filter products are made from glass fibers, cellulose fibers, polymers or synthetic fibers. This means checking up on each individual type & manufacturer.

      1. I ordered 6 packs of the organic cotton muslin cloths. They are with six layers. Do you know if they are difficult to breath through? Also, did you only use the cloths or did you put different material inside and outside?

    8. Kim- I started with the home filter with the wire attached as well, but it was messy trying to get the wire off and left holes in some areas of the filter. I found the pleated filters that do not have the wire directly attached to them much easier to work with. Once you remove the cardboard frame, the wire mesh pops right off. Plus, the pleated material can be easily cut and inserted into the home-made mask. If you’re willing to spend a little more ($20) you can also get one that claims to be Virus-proof. Given that home-made masks are not air-tight, not sure that this would really help, but $20 won’t break my bank and I’m giving it a shot. And yes, someone is now going to scream, “False sense of security!” But if I have to venture out there to get my mission-essential items every couple of weeks anyway, I’d rather have that than nothing on my face. :) stay safe and healthy everyone!!

      1. Thanks for the link!! I just received this email from them:

        Hi Melissa,

        Our MERV 13 filters are made with a 100% synthetic filter media with a wire backing glued in a cardboard frame. There are no harmful materials in the MERV 13 media itself. If you use the media it will not filter as small of a particle as the N95 but it help filter out 1.0–0.3 ?m particle size. These filters can filter bacteria, droplet nuclei (sneeze), cooking oil, most smoke and insecticide dust, most face powder, and most paint pigments.

        You can also now order Merv 13 filter media, below is the link:

        Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

        Thank you,

        Customer Care Team
        (877) 492-3018


        ————— Original Message —————
        Sent: 4/9/2020 11:02 AM
        To: support@airfiltersdelivered.com
        Subject: Customer Support

        Are your filters safe to breathe through when used in a DIY face ask?


        Customer Care Team


    9. Saw a YouTube video of someone using a MERV-13 filter for this – they just VERY GENTLY pulled the wire off the filter fabric, going slowly and keeping the other hand very close to where they were pulling up the wire, to do as little damage as possible to the fabric…

    10. I actually bought the Merv 11 filters, because you’ll be able to breed a lot better through it. There’s nothing worse than not being able to catch your breath. They were pretty easy to cut up and make as filters for my mask and I’ve had no problem at all with them. I have actually bought simplicity white HEPA vacuum bags on Amazon. The company that makes these it’s a family-owned company since the 1940s and their plant is in Missouri. You can make a lot of masks out of a HEPA vacuum bag it goes down to .3 microns and that’s awesome!

    1. I am making a 3 layer mask with a non-woven -polypropylene layer from landscape weed barrier. Dewitt Company Weed Barrier 12 year sells a polypropylene spun bond, melt bond, spun bond. This material and spun bond process seems similar to how they manufacture N95 masks. Layers 1 and 3 are 100% cotton and layer 2 is the weed barrier filter.

          1. I have been using standard landscape fabric in the masks I am making. I have washed them. I also found non woven filter .2 micron filter qualities. Stiff but it works. Bought in sheets from royalpaper.com

      1. I’m going to try burn sheets. Made from non-woven polypropylene and meant to prevent infection. Burn sheets are cheap too and large sized (60″ x 96″). Haven’t found any info on how effective, but based on purpose etc I think it could work as a filter. My masks design are three layers with a filter layer.

      2. We have a large roll of chemical-free, melt bond spun bond weed barrier that had been earmarked for landscaping. But, it looks like it may be a viable option for diy masks. Is there any scientific guidance supporting the use of this type of product? Or, explaining how to assemble? Very interested to read about others results.

  3. I’ve been doing homemade R&D
    And I can with confidence tell you all that the plant ties that I got from menards are a superior nose bridge option for pinching around the nose area.
    I have glasses and my mask kept fogging them up, floral wire was too painful, aluminum foil wasn’t strong enough, so I got this, it’s a wire cord, about 1/8 in think and it works beautifully. It’s a sort of plant tie to tire your plants to posts and whatnot.

    1. This pattern is excellent. I have ordered this for the fileter insert. Does anyohne know if it is good?
      Meltblown Cloth – Original Mask Cloth Material – Nonwoven Filter Fabric Mask Filtering Layer Application- Meltblown Roll Making the Efficiency Filters of Mask

    1. it actually does. It has to do with the 0.3 µm threshold where 0.3 and larger is able to flow with the wind stream of your breath and Less than 0.3 can’t catch the wind stream so it actually just keeps bouncing around and eventually just sticks to the filter medium. Give me a minute I’ll find the article

      1. I have a ozone cleaning machine for my c-pap equipment and I put the masks I make in it to clean them before giving them to anyone. Does anyone know if this is a good idea or not.

  4. I made some masks using cotton for the layer against the face, cambric dust cover( which has very similar characteristics to surgical mask material , it is 100% polypropylene, non woven spun bonded) this is the middle filtering layer, and another material that is 50% polypropylene & 50% polyethylene that is the outer layer. With elastic to go around the ears.

  5. Who has the time to read all of this? Not me.

    It seems long on speculation and short on science.

    I have access to a microscope at work. I looked at several materials under the microscope. The N-95 mask has many many layers of woven fibers with small spaces between them. Nothing as large as a red blood cell could possibly get through it. Red blood cells are many times larger than bacteria which are many times larger than viruses. Most infectious viruses ride around on microdroples which are about the same size (6 micrometers) as a red blood cell. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143281/

    i looked at several household fabrics under a light microscope. Most of them have holes between the fibers the size of hundreds of red blood cells. They might filter out a few but not that many droplets. Like a chain link fence would not filter out many mosquitoes. A double layer of tea cloth does not have hardly any larger spaces. Corduroy has a tight weave and a couple layers of that would be better than most. People who know fabrics would have something useful to say. Listen to them.

    It is a narrow needle to threat, between loose enough for air exchange and tight enough to filter out something that small. I would guess anything that works well is going to be hard but not impossible to breath through. Not that helpful for old people with heart and lung diseases.

    At smaller sizes, strange things can happen. Things like charge or shape or adherence or other factors might become important. I don’t know much if anything about these factors. Bottom line, one unknown factor can make the mask useless. At the end of the day, the fabrics must be tested in practical situations. Something like taking a similar but harmless virus in droplets and spray it by the mask and measure how many viable viruses get through it.

    1. I have tested the pleated HEPA filter that are used in shop vacs by filling the mask I make with water. The water does not run through it freely it at all . The other regular white shop vac filters allows some water to move through them but not much. How tight does a filter that allows air to flow easily need to be to still hold out water. Also I have filled my lungs with smoke (dirty job but someone has to do it) and no smoke or none I could see passed the mask when I just exhaled normally.

  6. Using Vacuum cleaner bags or air filters can be used and actually rank the safest mask materials thus far … check this youtube clip on how to make your own … also the second link will show you also which materials rank the best…
    I’m working on trying to order materials in bulk to possibly start making a bunch to donate… stay tune, stay safe & stay home!!



    1. Yes! Just make sure you’re using HEPA filter FABRIC bags. I accidentally bought some online that were a sort of plastic-y paper affair, and, NO. You want the ones that look like thick, soft, papery fabric. Those should make for the best breathability…

  7. Wali Khan is in Chicago, Illinois.
    March 23 at 8:57 AM
    While working my ICU shift, I noticed that the shoe covers we wear during messy/bloody traumatic arrests have a nice elastic seal that allows them to tightly fit around our shoes. Having seen a similar thing on a DYI page, I decided to experiment and create my own mask. One that has a tight seal (elastic on top and bottom) and is completely water resistant. In less than 2 minutes I had a perfectly functioning “mask”. Not an N95, but still a great mask for desperate times. Definitely better than a bandana. This is why nurses are the masters of their domain! We make things work for us.

    There is a global shortage on PPE. We simply don’t have what we need to protect ourselves, our patients and our families and the government has been slow to act. You’ve seen pictures of health care professionals with bandanas, home made masks, and plastic bags over their faces, essentially anything to protect them on the front lines. We can’t wait because this virus wont wait for us to come restock. Infection and death rates are climbing daily and the fight goes on. Help yourself and help others by sharing this video!

    Desperate times call for innovative measures.

    ****(Not a scientifically approved method by ANY means. But neither are garbage bags and bandanas, so.. here we are)

    1. and yes i have built masks – bought highest copper content nylon socks i could find cut for holes at edges and us shoestring to tie – fabric is stretchy so no gaps when pulled taught and tied at back w strings

    1. It looks like good stuff, but some people are saying it may be treated with weedkiller or other chemicals. The sample I handled some while ago did not seem to be. Read the packaging very carefully, and wash it very well even if it doesn’t say anything, I’m sure cleanliness is not real high on the list for it’s intended purpose.

  8. If you make the “Olsen mask” which is the best to seal gaps, You can take a foil baking pan and cut a 2” x 2” Piece out of the foil baking pan With tinsnips or a old pair of scissors that you really didn’t want anyway, And fold it over a few times, and fold over the edges. then you can cut to size, remove an MERV 13 pleated furnace air filter Which says that it does filter out viruses.

  9. I’ve put together another way of getting average-maker masks. These use Merv-13 filters. Not N95 level – but are much nicer for everyday walking about. Also – if we spread the user of THIS style -perhaps we can leave the N95s for the nurses. Doesn’t take a machine, and they are super simple to build and you can still get Merv13 filters in a lot of places:

    1. Updated to now include the best 3d printed mask I’ve found. I’ve also added an integrated fan into that 3D design, to help children and those with respiratory difficulties to get breath through the filter material.

  10. What is a N95 mask? The N95 mask is one of nine types of particulate protective masks certified by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). “N” means not resistant to oil. “95” means exposed to a specified number of special test particles. The particle concentration in the mask is more than 95% lower than the particle concentration outside the mask.

    1. Worth a try but I don’t think its breathable. The best bet seems to be polypropylene. Obtainable, breathable, somewhat washable (haven’t tested that complete yet).

  11. Has anyone tried to coat the filter material with something like PAM(olive oil and soy lecithin). This should reduce the porosity some and provide additional “stick” for passing particles. I just wonder how well the air will flow and if the surface tension of the oil will hold up during inhalation. It may be possible to increase the efficiency of some otherwise worthless filter material into something worth using. Thoughts? P.S. Dont try this if you have a soy allergy.

  12. Okay if you Google hillyard h600 you will find a study from the University of Florida stating that two layers of this fabric will work as good as an n95 It is a fabric used to wrap instruments for operations and stuff like that and is used during surgeries is used in dentists office so if you can find an outlet for it it might work well as a insert in a cloth mask

    1. That looks very promising. But is level 5 polypropylene any different from the cheap kind of polypropylene? Also I keep wanting to know:. can you put it in the washer and dryer? I am recommending that people remove the polypropylene when washing the mask, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

  13. anyone using copper nylon ?? seems like built in anti bacterial/microbial protection – see articles



    i have built masks – bought highest copper content nylon socks i could find cut four holes at edges and used shoestring to tie – fabric is stretchy so no gaps when pulled taught and tied at back w strings

    1. Great idea! The issue would be the size of the weave and if the virus molecules could get through. Such a nice simple solution if viable. Do they make non-woven socks?

      1. i am not sure on the non woven, my guess as it’s a cloth it has to be woven – actually i used the knee sleeve to make the best one, socks weren’t as thick etc – Copper Compression brand seems to have the highest copper content, but i do not know if molecules can get through tbh – just looked at tag, 88% copper nylon, 12% spandex – thanks for the feedback!

  14. I have read where where an anesthesiologist from Florida University is using sterilization wrap such as halyard 600 weight wrap to make masks he claims with some of the preliminary testing he’s done that it seems to work very well for masks clames a 2 ply mask made of this dose as well or better than n95

  15. One of the national news Dr’s indicated today that the severity of the infection is a function of the number of virus you take in. As such, reducing the number, by whatever amount, seems beneficial. The air currently entering my nose is N0 filtered. If a DIY mask can achieve a N40 (the N is irrelevant to this discussion, the 40 implies 40% effective), then I potentially decrease the number by 40%.

    A few weeks ago, when this was starting to get steam, a customer coughed on the checkout clerk and in the zone of my wife and others. Who knows when one will be walking though someone’s contaminated cough fog. Like that you can’t un-see grandma in a teddy or grandpa in a speedo, neither can you reverse out of a contaminating situations. Wash your hands and face all you want, but breathing it in is really hard to undo.

    As such, I suggest that masks protect both ways. If already infected, then it reduces spread. If not infected, then it may help reduce the impact.

    I’m looking forward to some great designs and hopefully some actual analysis as to performance.

    If you are infected, make sure the virus stops there.
    If you are not infected, do all you can to avoid being infected.

  16. Check this link. It seems 8 layers of heavy cotton t-shirt has been tested and found to be effective. I folded up a t-shirt into 8 layers and sealed it around my mouth and nose and it seemed fairly breathable with about the same resistance felt as breathing through an N95 mask. Also, reusable 8 layer filter pads could be made for use in cloth masks and sanitized by boiling for 10 minutes. The seal around the face is important and the link shows a good system for doing it.


    1. I agree. Polyester or polypropylene non-woven (sew-in type or fusible) interfacing used in sewing crafts and clothing manufacture works very well and is designed to be washed. Some have questioned the use of fusible interfacing due to the heat activated glue but this stuff is used in clothing all the time so I doubt it has any toxic effects in normal use. If you worry about it, stick with the sew-in type. Be sure you select non-woven interfacing and not woven. Depending on the weave of the cloth you are using, 2 layers of light weight, feather weight or sheer weight seem to work well sewn between your 2 layers of cloth. See this link on how this lady does it.

  17. Hello all, just wanted to add this in case it hasnt been mentioned and its what im doing, we can just use already made P100 or N95 filters that are used for half mask respirators. They are small but can be sewn together. Made by a ton of folks, 3M, Honeywell etc. and you can find them online. Some are sold out but I have found a lot available! If I understood the material correctly, the P100 filters would be the best to use. Has any body else tried this yet? I thought it would give the best protection and like I mentioned, the filters are already made by the pro’s. I was going to convert some simple pollution masks with the pre made P100 or N99 filters and make sure to add the nose wire and maybe some type of gasket like a good weather striping or something soft and flexible to help seal the mask to the face. Seems like it would work well and with some already made and available materials. I even got a high altitude training mask to add a P100 filter in because it seals nicely around the face. Let me know what you all think.

  18. Are the cheap shopping bags that you get bonded polypropylene? The look like the are similar to bonded interfacing? I am quite sure we all have a lot of those that we could cut up and add to a mask.

  19. I started using single fold bias tape at the top of the mask , just a small strip. Close one end. This can be used to hold any wire for the top of the nose. That way when the wire goes bad you can easily replace it.

  20. I decided to try burn sheets as filters in my homemade masks. They are made from non-woven polypropylene, and meant to prevent infection. I heard that vacuum cleaner bags were difficult to breathe through, and the comfort of the mask should be considered. Burn sheets are breathable and cheap – I purchased one 60″ x 96″ sheet for $9 Cdn. Anyone else try this?

  21. As a community volunteer, the outbreak of respiratory illness resulting from Corona-virus is going viral, face mask is in severe shortage! I have ordered 16 packs of organic cotton muslin cloths on the DEFONO store on Amazon as the fabric for masks. I have made 60 masks for healthcare workers. I have been nonstop sewing masks…im shipping to 6 hospitals and 2 nursing homes across the country, so far…cuts made for 130 masks starting 2day for this batch…I will definitely help anywhere, anyway I can ☮💞 we will get thru this together.
    I hope you add this mask-making fabric to your Instagram to provide help and convenience for people who DIY masks.
    DIY Face Mask Fabric link:https://amzn.to/3bm7xSW

  22. For filtration, homemade masks can be made with Oly Fun fabric, which is a 65 gsm, non woven polypropylene fabric…lightweight and breathable. CoxHealth recommends it and it was evaluated by their infectious diseases dept. here’s the link and here’s the paragraph.


    “ The system asks that they be made according to a CDC pattern, which is available here with instructions. It’s asked that these masks be made with Oly-Fun Fabric, as it has been evaluated by CoxHealth’s Infection Prevention team as a preferable option.”

  23. I am using 3M pleated home air filters for my masks. They are not made out of fiberglass, but out of polyester and the packaging states that they are supposed to protect against viruses, as well. I cut a 5×10 piece and insert them into my home-made masks. The filter costs around $20, but you can make about 6-8 masks out of one filter if you buy a large enough filter. I use 14g wire for the nose piece and it molds nicely. Again, fully aware that nothing will be as effective than a regular mask and the goal is not to use the home-made mask to spend hours in crowds of people, but to spend minutes in less crowded stores to get mission essential items. In addition, it will much better protect those around us should my husband or I happen to be asymptomatic and venture out for a hot second.

  24. pellon 360 ez stitch tear away non fusible is 100% polypropylene. But they are sold out everywhere. I am wondering since landscaping fabrics are non woven 100% polypropylene can they be used as long as they are chemical free?

  25. I am making my own masks and also making masks for The Turban Project. I just purchased 85mm Aluminum Strips Straps Nose Bridge Strip for DIY Mask Handmade Crafting Making Nose Bridge Clip from the store RecallfromPast. These are already cut and ⭐⭐Flexible adjustment and comfortable prefect for face and nose area.

    ⭐This straps is material for DIY making, you can make it at home and cut the length as needed.

    ⭐Essential accessories for DIY making, It has the excellent property of bending and deforming
    with the action of external force, not rebounding without the action of external force, and
    keeping the existing shape unchanged.

    ⭐ Double-sided adhesive self-adhesive

    I have a king size bed skirt I’ve never used that says it’s 100% polypropylene. Could I cut this up and use for masks? Is 100% polypropylene the same as non woven polypropylene?
    Please, Thank you and be safe! ✌🏼

    1. Hi Dusty , i also notice my bed skirt is make of the polypropylene , i really wish i can use it for mask i wonder if any one has answer to it ? thank you. be safe …. stay safe. :)

    1. Yes! I did just that. Two layers of Oly Fun polypropylene. It’s fine against the skin and makes for a super simple mask. I only just gave some to some health care providers. Haven’t gotten feedback yet. Very breathable.

        1. Hi, it was Oly Fun. I got it online but I think Walmart sells it too. I have also used cut-up promotional grocery bags, but the Oly Fun is smoother. My husband much prefers the polypropylene-only mask.

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