How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks

Right now, if you step outside, you’ll likely see people walking around in face masks. And it’s not a new fashion statement – it’s for protection. The CDC is officially recommending Americans wear cloth face masks any time they go out in public, especially in states with high transmission rates (aka NY, where I live). Now, wearing a mask isn’t the only thing you should be doing – you should also be washing your hands diligently and practicing social distancing. But having a face mask will certainly add an extra layer of protection. With this in mind, I decided to reach out to Totally Taylored, a sustainable online shop that’s selling cloth face masks right now. I asked Taylor, the owner, for her advice on sewing DIY face masks. Graciously, she sent me the tutorial she uses to make her face masks so I can share it with you guys. If you don’t feel like making your own mask, or just don’t have the supplies to, Totally Taylored’s masks are the way to go, hands down. Plus, Taylor was nice enough to create a coupon code for my followers – just enter GREENIFYME10 at checkout to get 10% off your order! Now without further ado, here’s how to make your own reusable cloth masks.

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How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks

Why are reusable cloth masks important right now?

According to the CDC, it’s recommended for Americans to wear cloth masks any time they go out now. This is especially true for people in states being hit hard by the virus – aka, New York (where I live).

I’m well aware the best masks you can get are N95s, but those are in very very short supply right now. And honestly, nurses and doctors should be getting first access to them at the moment.

There are other masks you can use too – all of which are disposable but offer good protection. However, these should be reserved for medical staff as well.

So, what’s the best option for the average civilian? Using a reusable cloth mask. It may not protect you as well as an N95, but it’s better than nothing.

When I went out to the grocery store this past weekend (about the only place I go nowadays) I saw several people wearing reusable cloth face masks. I was relieved to see less disposables, at the least.

I stopped to compliment an old lady on her reusable mask – it was so pretty and floral. She told me she had a friend who was making them so she bought one off of her. I loved the fact her mask was handmade and that she was supporting her friend. So touching.

My grandma also told me she was making cloth masks out of dish towels. The point I’m trying to make is this – everyone is getting their hands on reusable cloth masks. So why shouldn’t you, especially when the CDC recommends it now more than ever?

Most importantly, they aren’t contributing to pollution. I cannot tell you how many disposable masks (and gloves!) I’ve seen littered on the floor. It’s disgusting. We need to do better.

Already face masks are polluting the shores of Hong Kong. Not only is this harming the environment (and the animals who may mistake these items for food), but it’s also a health hazard.

So do the environment and yourself a favor – make (or buy) a reusable cloth mask.

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks
Source: Totally Taylored

Do I really have to make them myself?

No, not necessarily. I get not everyone has the materials or means to make their own.

You can purchase a reusable cloth mask at Totally Taylored – pre-made and easy to use. It’s made with a pocket to add a filter: This will help add an additional layer of protection. Also, it’s rippled give the most amount of protection.

Totally Taylored, a sustainable shop based in Athens, Georgia, makes these masks out of fabric scraps too. Talk about zero waste! Fabric that would otherwise be discarded is getting put to good use.

Not sure if you knew this, but landfills receive roughly 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes per year. I know – crazy right? Totally Taylored is doing a fantastic job to help fight this.

They have more than just face masks there too. You can shop for tote bags, produce bags, paper towels, swiffer pads, scrunchies, and so much more – all made from upcycled fabrics.

Better yet, Taylor herself, the owner of Totally Taylored, was kind enough to offer 10% off for my readers. Just use the code GREENIFYME10 at checkout!

I recommend getting at least two masks for each person in your household. The reason? When you wash one, you should have another available for use. Just a thought!

Note: Please be advised that Totally Taylored is a small business and isn’t mass producing masks. Because of this, she may sell out – just be patient and keep updated with her store to see when she stocks back up – she tends to do so pretty quickly. Also, each mask will be different and unique because it’s made from fabric scraps – so no two will be the same.

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks
Source: Totally Taylored

Reusable cloth mask tutorial

I’m the farthest thing from gifted when it comes to sewing. I know how to do the basics, but can’t do anything detailed what so ever. Plus, I don’t have a sewing machine. Which is why, for this tutorial, I asked for Totally Taylored’s help.

Taylor graciously shared the tutorial she’s using to craft her face masks with me, so I can share it with all of you! She’s the expert here, so I figured I’d let her have the floor.

She shared a video with me that has the full tutorial she’s been using (which I’ve included in this post above the directions). She has based her pattern off of this tutorial and video. It’s recommended to use a sewing machine for this tutorial.

Taylor told me she’s been getting 8 to 12 face mask requests per day and has been super busy. If you place an order with her, please note she is doing her absolute best to meet demands and appreciates all the support! And, if she gets sold out, please be patient and check on her store to see if there have been any updates – she tends to restock quickly.

Without further ado, here’s the reusable cloth mask tutorial Totally Taylored uses:

Materials (for adults):

  • Main fabric: 24cm x 19cm
  • Lining: 18cm x 13cm
  • Elastic length per piece: 30cm if elastic is very stretchy, 25cm if not. Adjust as needed.
  • Filter: Optional – should be the same size as main fabric.

For kids:

  • Main fabric: 21.5cm x 16.5cm
  • Lining: 15.5cm x
  • Elastic length per piece: 25cm if elastic is very stretchy, or 30cm if not. Adjust as needed.
  • Filter: Optional – should be the same size as main fabric.
Note: In terms of material, you can use what you have around your home. The best material would definitely be pillowcases or 100% cotton shirts. However, you can use and cut up handkerchiefs, bandannas, and dish towels as well if you’re in a pinch.
Note: If the directions below confuse you, please watch the video above to help you understand them better. It will provide a visual for you to go along with. I recommend watching and reading the instructions to better understand exactly what’s going on. 


1. First, cut one piece of cloth for the main fabric – this will be the part that other people see on the mask. Then, cut two pieces of lining (this will be the inside of the mask) and two pieces of elastic (for your ears) according to the measurements.

2. On the wrong side (WS), press up about 1.5cm on one side of the lining’s long edge and sew. Repeat with the other set of lining.

3. Stack and clip/pin both lining on main fabric right side (RS) to RS. Make sure the gaps on both left and right sides are equal to each other.

4. Sew the lining and main fabric together, RS to RS, at the top and bottom, then press.

5. Fold in lining to main fabric WS to WS, then press.
6. It’s time to create the pleats. Pinch and fold both main fabric and lining into three pleats, about 1cm per pleat. Clip or pin to hold the folds and press the pleats. The finished height should be approximately 10cm.
7. Sew a straight line on the main fabric, right next to the lining edge. Repeat on the other side.
8. To create the elastic tunnel, fold the raw edge of the main fabric twice. Clip or pin to hold the folds in place. Repeat on the other side.
9. Sew up the folds to create the elastic tunnel. Repeat on the other side.
10. Insert elastic, tie a knot, insert a non-woven layer (aka a filter). You’re all set!
Note: If you want to add a filter, please note this must be disposed of and replaced after each use. You cannot reuse it or wash it. It’s optional, but does add an extra protective layer. It’s up to you if you want to add it – just know that filters must eventually become a waste item to keep things safe and sanitary. 

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks
Source: Totally Taylored

How to care for your reusable cloth mask

It’s super important to make sure your cloth mask is well cared for – whether you DIY it or buy it.

Make sure to wash your mask on a daily basis. You can do this by tossing them into the wash with your clothes – but I think hand washing them is a better option.

To hand wash, fill a sink with warm water and plug the drain. While the sink is filling, add 2 tablespoons of castile soap to the water.

Add your face mask and make sure it’s submerged. Shut off the water and give the face mask a few squeezes.

Let the face mask soak for about 10 minutes before ringing it out and hanging it to dry. I recommend clothing hangers that have clips – these are super handy!

It may be a good idea to have two face masks for each person in your home – just in case one takes longer to dry than expected.

Once the cloth mask is dry, you may use it again. If you choose to place a filter in this mask, you cannot reuse the filter and must remove it before washing the mask. Unfortunately, you have to dispose of the filters – there’s no getting around that.

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks
Source: Totally Taylored

Important things to remember

While fabric masks won’t offer the same full protection of a surgical mask, they are better than nothing. Save the surgical masks for medical professionals who are in the front lines of this pandemic.

Also, don’t forget to wash your mask daily after each use! Replace the non-woven layer (the filter) with a fresh one. You cannot reuse the filter (if you choose to use one – it’s an optional extra layer of protection).

If you don’t have the materials or supplies to make your own reusable cloth mask, buy a fabric mask from Totally Taylored. Use the code GREENIFYME10 at checkout for 10% off.

Above all, remember to follow other safety procedures like washing your hands often and practicing safe social distancing. It could save a life.

How to Make Reusable Cloth Masks

Are you going to make your own reusable cloth masks?

If you’d like more tips for facing this difficult time, here’s how to stay zero waste during the coronavirus outbreak.

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


  1. This mask is one of the key precautions to be considered when providing care in close contact.. It can meet the expectations of respiratory protection devices. A Surgical mask Singapore is typically used in dental settings and in hospital settings. Trusty care provides you the considered respiratory protection devices.

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