Introduction: Coffee Filter Make-do Face Masks

Let's keep our droplets to ourselves, y'all.

It takes 5 minutes.

After much debate between experts, as of the very end of March 2020, the CDC decided that we *should* somehow cover our faces or wear masks when in public whether we feel ill or not. (But this is not to be a false security. We must still practice appropriate distance and hygiene.) I want to offer this instructable as one way to cover your face.

We should make our own so that we can leave the industrially produced N95 and true surgical masks to those in healthcare etc, who are in short supply.

To be clear: Is a coffee filter N95? Nope. But it is far better than nothing or some types of cloth, is easy to make quickly & to put on and will make us a little safer when we speak or laugh in public.

This instructable is my response to a friend's husband, a doctor who goes to work every day in the hospital, not even in an official "hot-spot, " where he and his coworkers can't protect themselves properly during this long-lived PPE shortage.

Coffee filters and other at-home materials make this a project that you could do from home without sewing. This style of mask is not my idea, just my version of the idea.

Make some for yourself for when you have to make a trip to the grocery or something essential. Make some for your favorite delivery person, your sister, and while you're at it, make some to donate to the hospitals since some are running out of the good ones. Something is better than nothing for those heroes!

Please see the last step for adjustments and disclaimers. Stay safe! Be creative! ❤️


5 minutes of time. Ready, set...

Cone coffee filters. Two per mask. I used the #4s, which is all I could find but I imagine the #2s would protrude less.

Rubber bands. 3 per. Or elastic if you can find any. Good luck.

A stapler and staples. 4 staples per mask

Paper clips. 1 per mask


Masking tape or painter's tape. Per mask: Roughly 14 inches if you have the thin 1 inch kind OR roughly 7 inches if you have the 2 inch wide kind.

Step 1: Thicken the Barrier

To make this thicker and more useful, put one coffee filter inside another. Trim the excess of the inner one from the top so that the edges are even with each other.

Step 2: Prepare the Elastic

- If you already have a normal sewing elastic or something similar, you don't need to work with the rubber bands. In that case, just skip to stapling on the band to the mask. If using rubber bands, take 3 or however many you need to fit around your head snugly yet comfortably and cut them so that they are not circles anymore.

- Tie the rubber bands into one long string

- Use your stapler to pinch whatever elastic you are working with onto the coffee filters on the outside of the creases. Do not puncture the elastic, rather pinch it by stapling twice, a few millimeters apart just enough to pin the elastic onto the mask.

- Tie a double knot so that the rubber band stays securely tied to the staples, which act as anchors.

- Do this on both sides

Step 3: Prepare Adjustable Nose Bridge

- Take one paper clip and unfold it into a straight line

- Add paper clip onto masking tape.

- Add the masking tape onto the inside of the mask where the bridge of your nose goes. Keep it closer to the edge so that you can have a maximal barrier against unfiltered air flow. (Using masking tape instead of Scotch tape is way more comfortable and durable so that you won't get poked and be tempted to remove your mask or touch your face. Hands off! :)

- If you have the thinner width masking tape at home, you're going to need to add a second strip around the edge to keep the two layers of the mask together. This will help keep the airflow more protected. (If you happen to have the wider painters tape or wider masking tape you can skip the next step since you will have both added the paperclip and adhered the two layers of the mask together in one step.)

- If you are using the thinner width masking tape, cut a second strip to adhere the layers of the top of the mask, the part that will be across your cheeks and your nose. Make sure it reaches from cheek to cheek, elastic to elastic. Put half of it on the inside of the mask and fold the other half over the outside and press to secure it. Make a small incision on the tape right where your nose goes so that the tape can bend properly from the inside to the outside around the curve.

Step 4: Tadaa! and Adjustments

Congratulations! You just made a funny looking but useful mask! Try the mask on, then pinch the paperclip around the bridge of your nose to make sure it fits properly. You want to pinch off as much air coming in from outside near the corners of your eyes/tops of your cheeks as you can. Take a few breaths in and out to make sure it inflates and deflates.

You can make some final touches like, for example, draw on it.
Or if you have hair that will get caught in the elastic, trim the knots that will be on the back of your head so that they will not have excess elastic hanging from them. First, make sure they are all double knotted and secure, and then give a careful snip to the excess elastic. I added a little bit of masking tape over them so that my hair wouldn't get caught in them when they expand and contract while moving.

These are one-time use masks and I am not sure how many hours these are actually protective, though to guage it, do understand that when a fabric or material becomes soggy, it becomes less effective. Keep a few on hand if you have a long day ahead of you. Also don't reach under your mask to touch your face.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed health professional and I'm not responsible for any accidents or injuries during the making or wearing of this mask.

*Please* be mindful to wash your hands and wear a mask before and while you're making these for other people. Remember to sanitize the surfaces that you are working on, as well. Quarantine your tape and rubber bands for the proper number of hours, or quarantine the finished masks for the correct number of hours before donating them or whatever you need to do to Keep It Clean! And when you are removing your own mask, please be careful to remove it without sticking your hands inside your mask unless if you're able to wash your hands immediately before/after.

Be as mindful and careful as if you or those around you had the virus. We are all in this together. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Please stay informed and be responsible so that you can stay as calm as you can and be a source of calm for others.