Introduction: Social Distancing Face Mask

This is NOT an airtight/N95/medical grade mask. There should absolutely NOT be used by professionals instead of a proper, tested, manufactured face mask.

However... given the directives to wear a mask while outside and the need to conserve the real ones for the heroes on the front lines (thank you to all of our nurses, doctors, volunteers, grocery store employees, firemen, police and all that are fighting for everyone), this one is easy to make and provides a little extra filtering and fit. We've made them for our family and have used them for walking, biking, and the weekly grocery store visit. When fitted and tied tightly you can feel the air moving the mask and (probably) filtering the air you're breathing.

While it does not fit tightly around the bottom of your face, it hangs down enough to cover almost all open airways. But it's still easy enough to breathe through.

You can easily toss this mask in the washing machine whenever you want. If you used a hot glue gun, don't put it in the dryer after.

Step 1: Gather Materials

  • Bandana or another square cloth (t-shirt, napkin, bed sheet, etc. cut into a square)
  • Home furnace/HVAC filter
  • Paper Clip
  • Needle & Thread, Hot Glue Gun, or Fabric Glue
  • Scissors

Step 2: Prepare the Air Filter

Remove the cardboard and wire mesh from the air filter. Pull the cardboard and wire mesh off of the air filter. Then pull the fabric off of the wire from the edges to the center.

Step 3: Measure the Air Filter

Measure 3/4 of the width of the bandana by folding the top edge to the middle.

Step 4: Cut the Air Filter

Cut the air filter into a rectangle that is 3/4 of the width of the bandana.

Step 5: Fold the Air Filter

Fold the air filter into a triangle by folding the top corner down to the bottom edge. Then continue folding over triangles until there's only a remnant of the air filter left.

Step 6: Trim the Air Filter

Trim the extra filter material into a triangle.

Step 7: Add the Air Filter to the Mask

Open the bandana into a square. Then open the filter into a square and place it in the center of the bandana.

Step 8: Prepare the Paper (Nose) Clip

Flatten the paper clip into a straight line. A thicker paper clip will hold its form better but is a little more uncomfortable than a medium or small one. Then place the paper clip in the center of the filter and bandana on the diagonal fold line.

Step 9: Attach the Paper (Nose) Clip

  • If using glue, glue the paper clip to the center of the air filter in the diagonal fold.
  • Fold the bandana and air filter in half along the diagonal. Make sure the paper clip stays in the diagonal fold.
  • If using glue, glue the air filter to the bandana along the diagonal fold line.
  • If sewing, sew the paper clip into the bandana and air filter. Make sure to sew around the paper clip to fasten it securely.
    • This can be quickly hand sewn as we did by starting at one end of the paper clip and sewing around it while keeping it in the diagonal fold. Tie each end with a few half knots.
    • A sewing machine would make quick work of this, it's just one line of stitches.
    • We definitely recommend sewing, it seems to hold up much better than the glue.

Step 10: Fit the Mask

The mask is done. Now fit it over your nose by bending the paper clip. You may have to make several attempts to get it right. Check the fit by tying it on and trying to get as few openings around the nose as possible.

Step 11: Tie the Mask

Tie it tightly in the back. You probably want 2 half knots to secure it. Adjust the fit as necessary. Try to get rid of all the spaces where air could flow in; you want to pull air through the mask, not from around it.

Step 12: Done...

Go outside, take a walk, ride a bike, be kind, stay safe... and at least 6 feet away :)