DIY T-Shirt Mask

I came across instructions for a DIY T-Shirt Mask that was developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, tested at Los Alamos National Laboratories, and shared by the CDC. All that’s needed is a t-shirt, marker, scissors, and ruler.

I made DIY T-Shirt Mask to share with homeless shelters and houseless people as well as folks in marginalized communities. I also have jpegs (below) in English/inches and Spanish/centimeters and the Plain Text for T-Shirt Mask, in case you want to make a prettier flyer or do one in Spanish.

Print some flyers and hand out when you venture outside your home. Or make some masks and hand those out.

Instructions for Simple Respiratory Mask


These instructions were based on guidelines shared by the Center for Disease Control. These guidelines are for “making an effective face mask if surgical masks and N95 masks are unavailable during a viral outbreak.” The original design was created by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania who tested with employees at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Read the original instructions and research.

This mask can provide a good fit and a measurable level of protection. Testers wore the prototype mask for an hour without difficulty. Breathing through this mask is subjectively no different than breathing through an N95 mask, but persons with respiratory compromise of any type should not use this mask.


  • 1 Heavyweight T-Shirt
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • 1 Microfiber cloth (optional


It’s preferred that the T-Shirt is first boiled for 10 minutes and air-dried. This will maximize shrinkage and sterilize the fabric.

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 1

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 1 Espanol

  1. Cut piece about 28 inches X 15 inches and lay out horizontally.
  1. Mark your 4 cut lines, all 8 inches long.

– 6 inches from the bottom, on both left & right sides

– 6 inches from the top, on both left & right sides

  1. Mark placement of square layers: in center, about 2 inches from the bottom.
  1. Cut along the four 8 inch lines described in #2. Do NOT cut center square
  1. Using remaining T-Shirt to cut 8 more pieces that are about 8 inches square.

Sizes can vary slightly. Try to make 4 squares by cutting with the grain of fabric (straight grain) and 4 squares by cutting across the grain of fabric (cross grain).

Optional: Cut an 8 inch square out of Microfiber and place in first layers.

  1. Stack squares on top of larger piece, in marked area.

Layers 1 & 2: straight grain, horizontal
Layers 3 & 4: cross grain
Layers 5 & 6: straight grain, vertical
Layers 7 & 8: cross grain

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 2

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 2 Espanol

  1. The top is rolled down to make Tie A, including part of the layered pieces.
  1. In center of rolled Tie A, cut a small vertical slit (through 1 or 2 layers of fabric) so it will fit snugly over bridge of nose.

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 3

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 3 Espanol

  1. Adjust around nose to eliminate leakage. You can add extra fabric under the roll between cheeks & nose and/or push rolled fabric along bridge of nose.
  1. The center of Tie B is placed under chin. The bands go up, in front of ears, & and are tied at the top of the head. Add extra cloth to bands, as needed.
  1. Tie C is tied at the back of the head. The bands can go above or below ears, whichever provides a more complete seal.

T-Shirt Mask Researcher Prototype