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

Dorothy Porter Wesley

Dorothy Porter Wesley was a librarian and the founding curator at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. She needs to be celebrated during Black History Month because she challenged the racial bias in the Dewey Decimal System and her work was the foundation for what became Black Studies.

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The first steps in not being racist

Interesting article on Quartz:

“White fragility” refers to white people’s low emotional tolerance for discussing topics of race and racism.

The term was coined by Dr. Robin DiAngelo in a 2011 article discussing her experience with white people in anti-racism trainings. She defines it as “a state when even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”

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“Grieving the White Void”

Abe Lateiner wrote a piece shared on, “Grieving the White Void.” 

He talks about his experience with race and privilege throughout his life, how White supremacy negatively impacts ALL people, how he came to see his personal stake in ending White supremacy as a White person (and it’s not White guilt…White guilt is a step in the process, but it’s not the end-game), and how we must learn to grieve what has happened and live with integrity. He gives examples of what we can all do to end White supremacy.

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“The Color of Fear” by Lee Mun Wah

The Color of Fear is an insightful, groundbreaking film about the state of race relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight North American men of Asian, European, Latino and African descent. In a series of intelligent, emotional and dramatic confrontations the men reveal the pain and scars that racism has caused them. What emerges is a deeper sense of understanding and trust. This is the dialogue most of us fear, but hope will happen sometime in our lifetime.

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Costs of Oppression to People from Dominant Groups

These concepts are from this PDF from Mt. Holyoke College.

Psychological Costs: Loss of Authentic Sense of Self

  • Socialized into limited roles and patterns of behavior
  • Denial of emotions and empathy
  • Distorted view of self and false sense of superiority
  • Discrepancy between others’ perceptions and own, internal reality
  • Fears (of doing and saying the wrong thing, of retaliation from oppressed groups, of judgment if reveal true self, of different people and experiences)

Moral/Spiritual Costs: Loss of Moral/Spiritual Integrity

  • Guilt and shame
  • Moral ambivalence (doing the right thing vs. social pressures to conform to dominant role)
  • Spiritual emptiness and pain

Social Costs: Loss and Diminishment of Relationships

  • Isolation from people who are different from oneself
  • Barriers to deeper, more authentic relationships
  • Ostracism from others in own group if do not conform

Intellectual Costs: Loss of Developing Full Range of Knowledge

  • Ignorance of other people and cultures
  • Distorted and limited view of reality

Material Costs: Loss of Safety and Resources

  • Living in a world of increasing violence and unrest (restricted ability to move about freely; increased fear for self and others; limited desirable places to live, work, go to school, recreate)
  • Loss of knowledge to foster societal growth and well-being
  • Waste of resources (to deal with effects of inequality)
  • Loss of valuable employees, clients and customers
  • Diminished collective action for common concerns

Benefits of Eliminating Oppression for People from Dominant Groups

  • Fuller, more authentic sense of self
  • More authentic relationships and human connection
  • Moral integrity and consistency
  • Freedom from fears
  • Improved living and working conditions
  • Access to other cultures and wisdom
  • More resources to address common concerns
  • Greater opportunity for genuine democracy and justice


What would you add to or change on this list? Comment below!

Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary

Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary shows the difference between racism by white people and so-called racism by black people (or any other minority group). What are the ways that white racism adversely impacts the lives of black people as a group? Education, economics/employment, housing, policing, health care… Now, what are the ways that black racism adversely impacts the lives of white people as a group?


Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism

This extensive post by Jon Greenberg has many links to resources on how to be a strong white ally to people of color. “By ‘curriculum,’ I do not mean a unit of study for classroom use (to be clear: this list is separate from my work in the classroom); rather, these resources, inspired by the #Charlestonsyllabus, are for anybody who wants to learn more from perspectives often underrepresented among many White circles.”

Links to these resources will be added to the United Against Racism – NM Resources page.


By Barry Deutsch

There are no doubt complexities that come with White Americans working for racial justice. White privilege can lead to a chronic case of undiagnosed entitlement, creating poor listeners, impatient speakers who talk over others, and people unaccustomed to taking orders. Nevertheless, the movement for racial justice needs more White Americans to get involved. And it’s our responsibility to help each other get involved–and get involved productively. I compiled this list to help White Americans do so.