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Cloth Mask: the user manual for this social distancing hug you can launder

Before You Start

Remember to launder your mask before its first use. I make them in as clean an environment as I can manage, but there’s a cat and a bird in the house, and of course nobody can completely guarantee that any space is virus free.

Wearing the Mask

  1. Optional: Insert a filter (coffee filter, HEPA filter, vacuum cleaner bag pieces, even folded up paper toweling if that’s what you’ve got, but NOT anything made of fiber glass).
  2. Bend the wire so that it fits snuggly around your nose.
  3. Gather the fabric at edges nearest your ears (where the elastics or ties are attached) so that this edge is kind of scrunched up.
  4. Ensure a secure and snug fit
    • If you have elastics rather than cloth ties, you can adjust the length slightly by adjusting the knot(s) tucked into the mask, but be sure to adjust them so that it’s a very snug fit.
    • Tie cloth ties securely and snuggly behind your head (mine fits nicely if I can tie the lower string up high toward the crown of my head, so that it’s pulling the bottom edge upward, and all of this works extra well if you have hair that allows for a hair clip or ponytail or the like).
  5. Consider wrapping the whole thing in a piece cut from a nylon stocking to close gaps between the mask and your face (as referenced in this article and the research behind that article).
  6. Do not wear your mask if it becomes at all wet! Moisture removes practically all protection.
  7. Once the mask is in place, don’t touch it. Consider it dirty (like a used tissue) and covered with either with your germs or the germs around you or both. A lot of the mask’s benefit comes from helping you not touch your face.

When you’re done wearing the mask

  1. Wash your hands before removing the mask (basically, wash your hands before moving them close to your face in general).
  2. Untie the mask and plop it directly into the washing machine or top level of your dish washer. (If you used a paper filter, remove that before putting it in the washing machine, but consider your filter “dirty” so don’t go rubbing it around or touching it to stuff.)
  3. Wash your hands, which have now touched your dirty mask and probably also your dirty filter.
  4. Wash the mask in hot water with soap, and run it through the drier.


Wearing a mask helps prevent you from spreading your germs and helps you remember not to touch your face. It’s not meant to prevent you from getting other people’s germs. So stay home if you can, and wash your hands.

Is something not working out for you?

Let me know. All our heads and needs are different. We can probably figure out some way to adjust things to make them better, either with your current mask or with a new one. A mask is only useful if it’s comfortable enough to actually wear it!

You can always request another mask, and if you want I can clean and re-home the mask that didn’t work out for you.

Curious about my process?