Instructions for making face masks from household air filters with Original Design

How to Make

  1. Disassemble the air filter To disassemble the air filter, pull out the soft fabric (ideally with the help of a blow dryer). Cut open the paper along the four sides. Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp wire. Pull out the air filter fabric and pull off glue and paper stuck to the filter without damaging the surface too much.

  2. Flatten out the air filter fabric and cut into 9” squares. (A 14” x 20” x 1” filter will produce enough for 18 masks.) For smaller faces, you might prefer 8 x 8” squares. At this point, you can also add the muslin lining, and line up with all four sides of the filter square. Continue with Steps 3-5 with the lining behind the air filter.

  3. Use one natural fold of the filter to insert the metal strip and sew this fold shut.

  4. Increase the number of folds on each side of the filter, and until it is about 3” long on each side. If you are using the lining, pleat it together with the air filter, as though it was one layer.

  5. Fasten each side with a straight row of machine stitches or hand stitch.

  6. For comfort, sew bias tape (seam binding) around three sides of the mask. (It’s easier not to add binding to the top, where the nose bridge is.)

  7. Add one strip of elastic to each of the short sides of the mask, centering the middle of the elastic on the middle of the short side.  The elastic should go on the side with the lining, which will be the side that goes against your face. Attach with zigzag stitch if possible. Stretch the elastic while doing so for a better fit.

  8. Fit the mask to your face by first bending the nose bar to fit your nose as high on the bridge as possible without blocking your eyes. Then adjust and tie the elastic. Move your finger gently around all edges of your mask to see whether it is snug to your face. Try to get rid of any gaps by adjusting the elastic or the nose bridge. There are several ways that you can tie the elastic or place it on your head to make a better fit for yourself.

To Replace or to Wash?


This air filter material tends to deteriorate when washed in the washing machine, but it can be soaked and hand washed in the sink with mild soap. Be sure to rinse and dry completely before wearing again. The filters don’t have the same efficiency against small particles when they are wet. It would be better to replace them daily if possible.




A Note on Fit


How well the mask fits you will also determine how well it can protect you.

If there are gaps along the edges or beside your nose, it is possible that unfiltered air can enter through those openings. These home-made masks are not nearly as effective without the nose bridge, so you should not make them without the bridge if at all possible.
Please see Step 8 for tips on how to ensure that the elastic is working to give you the best possible fit.




How Can I Get Supplies?


You can get a Kit from us.
Each kit contains enough supplies to make 20 masks.

Or, you can buy your own supplies ( see list below).




Choosing Air Filters


MERV 12 and higher are best.
For further information, click here.





Use Our Kit

One kit provides enough materials to make 20 high-quality masks:

 

  • 20 sets of precut mask patterns, ready to sew

  • 20 squares of pre-folded high quality air filter

  • 20 metal nose bridge pieces

  • 40 strips of elastic

OR Buy Your Own Supplies

  • One residential replacement air filter (See note about how to select a good air filter. Any size will work.)  MERV 12 and higher are best.

  • Strong scissors or wire cutter (work gloves or an oven mitt would be helpful as well)

  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread; dressmaking pins are helpful)

  • Two 15-inch strips of 1/4” or 1/8” elastic (you could also tear an elastic section of an old shirt)

  • One 4-6 inch strip of 1/2” wide x 1/64 thick aluminum (or cut a 6” strip cut from a wire clothes hanger and use some electrical tape to cover the sharp ends)

  • Optional: one 25” strip of double fold bias tape (or you could use another part of an old t-shirt)


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email@jointhemaskbrigade.org

Chapel Hill, North Carolina