Home Hacks: DIY Reusable Cloth Masks

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

We're posting a series of Home Hacks to our blog here and to the Buy Nothing Project page on Facebook. Each Home Hack offers a way we can make do with what we have in our homes to delay or avoid trips to the store. Today we have a tutorial from Rebecca for the DIY reusable cloth masks she's making for our community, using materials from home and sourced safely and without human contact through her local Buy Nothing group.


This photo above is a slideshow that includes sequential images of the construction process - Click the arrows to the side of each photo to navigate through them all.

I've been making stacks of these reusable cloth masks using fabric I had at home (thread, an old flannel sheet, old t-shirts, pipe cleaners from my kids' arts & crafts drawer) and some supplies given to me by neighbors in my local Buy Nothing group (densely-woven cotton fabric from quilt stashes and sheets, steel wire, more pipe cleaners, more thread). Each mask has 2 layers of fabric (3 if you count each overlapping inner piece as its own layer), a sturdy bendable nose bridge, an inside pocket to hold a disposable layer of non-woven melt-blown filter media that you replace with each wear (see the articles below for options), and 4 ties that go around the back of your neck and up over the crown of your head. These masks were designed to work well if you are also covering your head/hair to cut down on vector surface area, so they do not loop around your ears. These are designed to be machine washed on hot and dried on high heat, and should hold up for some time - Just remember to throw out that disposable layer of filter media after each wear and before washing, and to add a fresh new filter layer before each wearing. These are decidedly not equivalent to the PPE and N95 masks needed by people on the front lines, but I wanted to engineer something I could make on my basic sewing machine, using materials I already had and things I could easily find online, now that our local shops are mostly closed. I read as many sources as I could, consulted with an ER physician I know, and settled on this design, but there are many others. Please do your own research and pick a mask that you will wear, properly an