Washable Reusable DIY Face Masks

Updated on April 22, 2020
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Sam enjoys crocheting, sculpting, DIY crafts, reading, writing, and traveling with her family.

My DIY face mask with air filter made from an upcycled shirt that had been ripped.
My DIY face mask with air filter made from an upcycled shirt that had been ripped.

Face masks have become essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical professionals use face masks to prevent catching the virus, while the public has been asked to wear masks to prevent the spread.

A huge factor in effectiveness of a face mask is dependent on whether or not the user wears the mask properly. Another determining factor is the material used to make the mask, and the fit of the mask over the nose, mouth, and chin.

Here I share resources I have found on the use of face masks, information on the best materials to use, several DIY patterns, and share my own experience creating masks for my family.

When to Use a Mask

Olson Mask with Filter Pocket

Sewn DIY Face Mask with Air Filter Made from T-Shirt

My sons modeling their DIY face masks made from upcycled cotton shirts they have outgrown.
My sons modeling their DIY face masks made from upcycled cotton shirts they have outgrown.

I went with the Olson mask design for my family's face masks. The first one I made was for my husband, because he has been the one running errands for the rest of us. I followed the pattern almost exactly, but made some alterations based on the material I was using (cotton t-shirts) and what worked better for us:

  • The velcro straps were too cumbersome for us, so we just stitched the flaps closed.
  • I used the bottom of the shirt and sleeves for the filter pocket pieces to save time, since they were already nicely finished.
  • The elastic hurt my husband's ears, so instead I cut a strip from a t-shirt and stretched it to create a cord to tie the mask more comfortably (photo examples below).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Olson Face Mask with side flaps stitched down.I stretched a strip of t-shirt fabric to make a cord then, using a safety pin, brought the cord up from the bottom of one side, then down through the top of the other side.  Alternatively, two smaller cords could be cut to make 2 ties.We wear our masks with the loop sitting on top and pull the mask until it is snug and tie it at the bottom.  We have found that putting the loop higher up on the head, rather than where it is placed here, is actually more comfortable for our ears
Olson Face Mask with side flaps stitched down.
Olson Face Mask with side flaps stitched down.
I stretched a strip of t-shirt fabric to make a cord then, using a safety pin, brought the cord up from the bottom of one side, then down through the top of the other side.  Alternatively, two smaller cords could be cut to make 2 ties.
I stretched a strip of t-shirt fabric to make a cord then, using a safety pin, brought the cord up from the bottom of one side, then down through the top of the other side. Alternatively, two smaller cords could be cut to make 2 ties.
We wear our masks with the loop sitting on top and pull the mask until it is snug and tie it at the bottom.  We have found that putting the loop higher up on the head, rather than where it is placed here, is actually more comfortable for our ears
We wear our masks with the loop sitting on top and pull the mask until it is snug and tie it at the bottom. We have found that putting the loop higher up on the head, rather than where it is placed here, is actually more comfortable for our ears

Deaconess Hospital Simplified Face Mask Tutorial

Simple Pleated Face Mask Tutorial

How to Make Face Mask WITHOUT Elastic

Face Masks for Sale

As the pandemic pushes on, many companies are now offering affordable, reusable face masks. So I've decided to include a few that I personally like.

DIY No Sew Face Mask from a T-Shirt

Use & Care of Reusable Masks

  • Wear mask if you are coughing, sneezing, or have symptoms of illness.
  • Wash/sanitize your hands before putting on a mask.
  • Make sure mask covers your nose and mouth and that there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Wash/sanitize your hands if you touch the mask while wearing it.
  • Replace mask as soon as it is damp. Do not reuse until it has been washed and dried on hot settings. Discard after first use if it is not reusable.
  • If using a filter with your mask, discard filter after every use and replace with a clean filter.
  • Remove mask from behind. Do not touch front of the mask. Wash hands immediately after removal.
  • Keep clean masks and used masks in separate containers to avoid cross contamination.


Popular No Sew Face Mask with Filter

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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