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Step-by-Step Guide to Making a No-Sew Face Mask From an Old T-Shirt

Easy DIY instructions for a summer-friendly cotton face covering


How to Make a Breathable Face Mask Out of a T-shirt

Coronavirus case counts are rising nationwide, prompting more state and local governments to call on people to cover their faces in public to help curb the spread, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Temperatures are rising, too, with the National Weather Service warning that the “heat dome” scorching much of the country could linger in some areas for weeks.

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Those two circumstances will make for a lot of sweaty faces this summer. But there are ways to make covering up a little more comfortable, even in record heat. According to researchers at the University of Illinois, a two-layer face mask made from a cotton T-shirt can be both breathably cool and effective in blocking potentially virus-carrying respiratory droplets.

And you can make one in a few minutes, no needle, thread or even staples required. Here's how to make a fast, no-fuss T-shirt mask for summer safety.

spinner image Scissors, t-shirt and ruler on a table

1. Gather your materials. You'll need a ruler, scissors and a T-shirt, preferably 100 percent cotton. Make sure the sleeve is big enough to cover your nose and mouth.

spinner image Cutting a sleeve off a cotton t-shirt with scissors.

2. Lay the shirt flat on a table. Cut along the seam of one sleeve, then set it aside.

spinner image Cutting a strip from the bottom of a cotton t-shirt

3. Cut a 1-inch strip along the bottom of the T-shirt, all the way across, providing a loop of fabric.

spinner image Scissors cutting through strip of a cotton t-shirt.

4. Cut through the loop so you have a long strip of cloth. This will be the strap of your mask.

spinner image Laying a cotton sleeve on the table.

5. Lay the sleeve on the table with the seam in the middle, facing up. Slide the ends of the strip through the sides of the sleeve, leaving a loop at the top.

spinner image Spreading out a cotton face mask on a table.

6. That's it! Your mask is ready to wear.

spinner image Man putting on cotton face mask made from a t-shirt.

7. To put it on, arrange the mask on your face with the loop over the top of your head. Pull the straps out and back to cinch up the sides, and tie the ends behind your neck. The mask should fit snugly and comfortably, with both layers covering your mouth and nose.

spinner image Two cotton face masks lying on a table.

8. Repeat with the other sleeve and you've got a pair of soft, breathable, washable masks.

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