3 Household Materials That Filter Out Viruses (DIY COVID-19 Face masks)

The CDC and White House now recommend wearing a homemade face mask when you venture out of your house. Shop Face Masks on Amazon (new stock added daily!)

These recommendations specifically refer to homemade masks, to avoid diminishing the already depleted N95 face mask supply – desperately needed by hospital and front-line workers repeatedly exposed to the Coronavirus COVID-19.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.


Even if you wanted an N95 mask, they are scarce and hard to find at a reasonable price in the open market today. Instead, you can make your own mask with some common household materials. If you don’t already have these around the house, you can find them on Amazon – we’ve noticed quantities are already decreasing rapidly, so timing may be critical to snag these supplies before they run out – like toilet paper.


“Retired Inventor of N95 Masks is Back at Work, Mostly for Free, to Fight COVID-19” –The Washington Post

Peter Tsai, the inventor of N95 masks, was interviewed by The Washington Post this month. Embedded in the article is Mr. Tsai’s personal choice for homemade face masks – using non-woven blue shop towels. You can buy non-woven shop towels on Amazon for about $5 per roll (~$0.10/sheet). Stock up now before they are sold out in a few weeks!

He’s spread the word about the optimal material to use for homemade masks. His suggestion: nonwoven fabrics, such as car shop towels. –The Washington Post


1. HVAC Air Filters ≥2200 MPR

Examples: 3M Filtrete Elite Healthy Living 2800 MPR Air Filter
Recommendation: Filtration rating equal to or greater than MERV 13 or MPR2200
Shop for 2200+ MPR Air Filters on Amazon

How to make a face mask with air filters:

2. Vacuum Cleaner Dust Bags (HEPA/Dust)

Examples: Hoover Unifit HEPA Filteration Vacuum Bags
Recommendations: HEPA designation for filtration efficiency
Shop for HEPA Vacuum Bags on Amazon

Check out this video for how to make a DIY face mask with vaccuum bags:

3. Cotton T-Shirt with Shoe Laces (2 layers)

Cut up a cotton t-shirt and lay two layers on top of each other. Sew or staple the sides, along with ear straps made of shoelaces or rubber bands.

Don’t forget – your face mask should cover your MOUTH AND NOSE! Covering only the mouth is significantly less effective.

As a last resort, you can still purchase facemasks on Amazon, but they are likely not going to be N95 — which is OK! Don’t pay an. exorbitant price for an N95 when you can make masks at home for free. Shop for General Purpose Face Masks on Amazon

Why you don’t need an N95 mask:
Healthcare professions are professionally fitted, every year, to match them to a specific size of N95 mask. The fitting is designed to eliminate any gaps/leaks around the edge seal of the mask. The “perfect fit” of an N95 mask is similar to a SCUBA driver’s goggles – if *any* water gets in his goggles, they can’t serve their purpose. An N95 mask with a 1 millimeter gap on your cheek or nose is not 100% effective. Leave the N95 masks for the professionals, and use the materials listed above to make your own masks. Spread the word!

Additional Resources

Resources to learn more about homemade face masks for Corona virus:

“Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html.


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