Cloth Masks 101: Effectiveness, How to DIY, & Where to Buy

Can't find surgical or N95 masks? Experts say cloth masks might be just as effective if made from these materials 😷


Face masks are a big part of our “new normal” even after the enhanced community quarantine ends, as guidelines for the general community quarantine still require its use when out in public places. However, considering the global pandemic, disposable face masks, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and the like, are in short supply. Plus, governments are recommending that these items are better left for use in the medical setting, so what then, is our next best option?

What are cloth or fabric face masks?

Cloth or fabric face masks are any type of masks that covers the nose and mouth that are not surgical or N95 masks. These are typically reusable and can be made of any cotton or fabric that can filter respiratory droplets. However, recent studies have shown that using a combination of two different fabrics and a good fit can offer the most effective protection.

The same study has found that the most effective combination of cloth that can filter out aerosol particles is composed of a tightly woven cotton sheet combined with two layers of polyester-spandex chiffon. This could filter out 80 to 99% of particles and as researchers say, is the combination that performed closest to that of N95 masks. 

If you plan on DIY-ing your face mask and don’t have any polyester-spandex chiffon readily available, then you can also consider using natural silk, flannel, or cotton quilt. You can also opt to use cotton material that has a higher thread count.

Are you ready to DIY your face mask?

Depending on your crafting skills, here are a few face masks tutorials that you can try.

Try this one out if you know your way with a sewing machine:


If a sewing machine is out of the question but if you’re pretty nifty with your fingers, here’s a no-sew one for you:


Remember, no matter which one you make, the important thing is to ensure that it fits you perfectly, as it could make a big difference in your mask’s effectiveness.

What are my other options aside from DIY?

If crafting is not for you, then here are a few online stores that sell reusable cloth masks. Though they come in different designs and materials, most offer the option of having a filter pocket or even include reusable filters. You can use either disposable or reusable filters, or even tissues or kitchen towels with your face masks to increase its filtration capacity.


Rags2Riches offers several face masks options on their site, including these ones made from indigenous fabric, and several others made from upcycled donated material from Wanderskye, Ikea, or neoprene fabric. The indigenous fabric masks cost Php 150 each while the others cost Php225 for a bundle of 5 masks. All feature filter pockets. Buy here

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Freshly woven: Our @earthtooph Face Masks with Indigenous Fabric. 😷 These masks are limited in pieces and are sold per piece!⠀⁠ ⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠ To those who've purchased our artisan-sewn face masks, thank you so much! Your purchase not only helps #flattenthecurve but also keeps us in R2R going as we support the livelihood of our team and artisans.⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠ ⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠ To those who want to purchase, you can visit our website on @thingsthatmatterph. Link is in our bio, or you may visit⁠⠀⁠ ⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠ IMPORTANT: Due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine, shipping is a little trickier. We will only allow deliveries within Metro Manila since the masks come from our community in Payatas, Quezon City. We will be using Lalamove or Grab Express, and the advocate will cover shipping. Thank you for understanding! #WeaveJoyfulStories

A post shared by R2R – Rags2Riches, Inc. (@rags2richesinc) on



Mum or Bfeedingmum offers 2 kinds of masks: the rainbow face masks which are structured neoprene masks, and the vanguard cotton masks which are cotton masks with pocket filters. Both retail for Php35 each and the best part, the vanguard face masks are available in kids sizes. And they come in many colors too, so your kids can surely get their pick. Buy here.


Style Ana

Style Ana is another clothing brand that currently sells cloth face masks for adults and kids alike, with both featuring filter pockets. And if you’re a fan of Inabel fabrics then you’ll love the fact that their masks are made of the same material. Masks retail for Php 300 per piece, a bit pricey but stylish and comfy. Buy here


Apartment 8

Apartment 8 is a well-loved brand known for its dresses and separates. The brand is offering “care masks” that come in a wide range of colors, which kind of reminds us of their color-block dresses (we’re fans of their pinks and grays). It comes in male and female sizes and filter pockets at Php 300 apiece. Buy here.


Remember, no matter which cloth mask you get and use, the important thing is to use it properly. Stay safe and well, mamas.

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