What Are the Best Materials for Making DIY Masks?

With masks sold out during the coronavirus outbreak, many people will have to make do with what some scientists have called “the last resort”: the DIY mask.

Data shows that DIY and homemade masks are effective at capturing viruses. But if forced to make our own mask, what material is best suited to make a mask? As the coronavirus spread around China, netizens reported making masks with tissue paper, kitchen towels, cotton clothing fabrics, and even oranges!

DIY homemade mask against coronavirus made from orange

The Best Material for Making a Homemade DIY Mask

Researchers at Cambridge University tested a wide range of household materials for homemade masks. To measure effectiveness, they shot Bacillus atrophaeus bacteria (0.93-1.25 microns) and Bacteriophage MS virus (0.023 microns in size) at different household materials.

Particle Sizes - Virus Labelled

They measured what percentage the materials could capture and compared them to the more common surgical mask.

Homemade Mask Virus Effectiveness

Not surprisingly, the surgical mask performed best, capturing 97% of the 1-micron bacteria. Yet every single material filtered out at least 50% of particles. The top performers were the vacuum cleaner bag (95%), the dish cloth (“tea towel” in the UK! 83%), the cotton blend shirt fabric (74%), and the 100% cotton shirt (69%).

Homemade Masks vs. Viruses

The test above used bacteria that were 1 micron large, yet the coronavirus is just 0.1 microns – ten times smaller. Can homemade masks capture smaller virus particles? To answer this question, the scientists tested 0.02 micron Bacteriophage MS2 particles (much smaller – a fifth the size of – COVID-19).

On average, the homemade masks captured 7% fewer virus particles than the larger bacteria particles. However, all of the homemade materials managed to capture 50% of virus particles or more (with the exception of the scarf at 49%).

Are we missing a material you want to see?

Check out our second round of homemade mask tests with 30 materials! Or vote for a material.

Are Two-Layered DIY Masks More Effective?

If the problem is filtration effectiveness, would the masks work better if we doubled up with two layers of fabric? The scientists tested bacteria-size particles against double-layered versions of the dish towel, pillow case, and 100% cotton shirt fabrics.

Overall, the double layers didn’t help much. The double-layer pillowcase captured 1% more particles, and the double-layer shirt captured just 2% more particles. Yet the extra dish cloth layer boosted performance by 14%. That boost made the dish cloth as effective as the surgical mask.

Looking at the data, the dish towel and vacuum cleaner bag were the top-performing materials. However, the researchers didn’t choose these as the best materials for DIY masks:

Pillowcase and cotton t-shirt best for homemade DIY mask

Instead, they concluded the pillowcase and the 100% cotton t-shirt are the best materials for DIY masks. Why?

What DIY Mask Materials Are The Most Breathable?

The answer lies in breathability. How easy it is to breathe through your mask is an important factor that will affect how comfortable it is. And comfort isn’t merely a luxury. Comfort will influence how long you can wear your mask.

Fortunately, in addition to particle effectiveness, the researchers tested the pressure drop across each type of fabric. This gives us a good indication of how easy it is to breathe through each material. As a benchmark, they compared breathability of each DIY mask material to the surgical mask.

Breathability of DIY mask materials like cotton vacuum and tshirt compared to surgical masks

Although the dish towel and the vacuum bag captured the most particles, they were also the hardest to breath through. With two layers, the dish towel was over twice as hard to breathe through as the surgical mask. In contrast, the pillow case, t-shirt, scarf, and linen were all easier to breathe through than the surgical mask.

Researchers’ Pick for Best Homemade Mask Material

Based on particle capture and breathability, the researchers concluded that cotton t-shirts and pillow cases are the best choices for DIY masks.

Best material for making homemade DIY masks out of cotton and pillowcase fabric

Are there any other materials we can use? The Cambridge researchers left out one common material: paper towel. We tested how well paper towel masks capture sub-micron particles.

Making DIY Masks with Household Materials

Bottom Line: The Best Materials for DIY Face Masks

The best choices for DIY masks are cotton t-shirts, pillowcases, or other cotton materials.

These materials filter out approximately 50% of 0.2 micron particles, similar in size to the coronavirus. They are also as easy to breathe through.

Doubling the layers of material for DIY mask gives a very small increase in filtration effectiveness, but makes it much more difficult to breathe through.

Smart Air

Here’s What Else You Should Know About DIY Masks

Still not sure if DIY masks really work? See the real-world test data on the effectiveness of homemade DIY masks.

Some health authorities claim that masks are only to keep sick people’s germs in, but do masks actually prevent healthy people from getting infected? Randomized studies say “yes.”


Along with wearing masks, air purifiers with HEPA filters are also one of the best ways to stay safe from a variety of pollutants in our air including viruses and dangerous PM2.5. A recent CDC study confirmed significantly lower COVID-19 infection rates in schools that used HEPA air purifiers. HEPA filters can significantly lower the risk of a variety of deadly diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Read More: Four Steps to Choosing the Best Air Purifier

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365 thoughts on “What Are the Best Materials for Making DIY Masks?”

  1. Comments Temporarily Closed

    We have been overwhelmed by the response to this article, and so have had to temporarily close comments. If you have a question about a new material to test, or want to vote on which materials we should test next, visit our Fundly.com campaign for more information.

    With your input and support, we hope to provide the most comprehensive guide on DIY mask materials possible. Let’s work together on this!

    Visit our ‘Best Mask Materials’ Campaign

  2. I was looking at the material that is used in the swiffer dust catcher floor mop. It’s very strong and would be easy to make a mask from. Fairly breathable too.

    • Hi, Jill. Liz here. We haven’t tested that yet. We know there’s a huge demand for reliable, science-backed data right now, so we’ve created a campaign to gather information on what our readers wants to test. To vote on what test you expect to see and support our campaign, visit our Fundly.com page here: https://fundly.com/best-diy-mask-materials

  3. How would you rate a wash cloth based mask? I’ve found that after folding the ends over rubber bands and adjusting for nose/mouth size, the mask is anywhere from 3 to 6 layers thick. Sometimes I’ll put the mask over a coffee filter. It feels like the natural oils in the skin helps seal the coffee filter after the mask is positioned over it.

  4. I bought a hazmat suit at a local store. If I’m making DIY cloth face masks out of cotton material, would a rectangular piece of the hazmat suit be an effective filter insert?

    • Hi Ellen, Unfortunately, we don’t have data on the hazmat material yet. But there’s some good news — we know there’s a huge demand for reliable, science-backed data right now, so we’ve created a campaign to test 50+ more materials. To vote on what test you expect to see and support our campaign, visit our Fundly.com page here: https://fundly.com/best-diy-mask-materials

  5. What happens when the cotton becomes damp with moisture from breathing? One would think it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and virus’

  6. Coffee filters will not be helpful, as their pores are 20 microns, and the virus is much, much, much smaller…

  7. Good info thanks. What is the composition of the material surgical masks are made of ? Could an existing material be altered to get the same performance as a surgical mask ?

  8. What kind of vacuum bag? HEPA? It looks really stiff, the type that’s like a paper bag and not the type that’s more like cloth?

  9. I promise I am not going to ask about coffee filters but… I have been reading in Popular Science mag. about the soft plastic reusable shopping bags being the best DYI filtration (other than hepa filters). Have you got any info?

  10. A big thank you for your great commitment!
    I’ve a question concerning the ‚tea towels‘.
    What are they made of? Cotton, linen, a mix of something or is it their special structure that makes them so suitable?
    Thanks for answering.

    • Making mask out of bandanas that folded twice over making it four layers then placing hair ties about midway on the folds and then folding them over again at the hair ties area and tuck him under so you have eight layers at this point. I’ve made this myself and tried it it’s very comfortable and breathable.

  11. The 15-minute Bandana Face Mask
    Easy to make, comfortable, washable, reusable, multi-layered–and no ties

    Ingredients :
    1 standard bandana, 20 x 20”
    20” length of malleable plastic-coated wire
    4 small safety pins
    1 small rubber band
    1 nose, 2 ears

    mold the center of the wire to sit easily on the lower bridge of the nose
    curve the wire around the cheeks, and bend the ends to hook over the ears, like glasses
    fold the bandana twice to make a 10 x 10” square
    drape it over the shaped wire—half on each side
    pin all 8 layers of the bandana with two safety pins on each side, one just below the wire, one at the bottom corner of the cloth
    connect the two bottom safety pins with the small rubber band
    put it on; tug the bandana out to the sides & fit its bottom under the chin
    glasses and/or hearing aids can be worn with the mask
    launder the bandana after each use

    Even safer than a face mask: be wise, stay home, and avoid contacts! Remember that 80% of carriers look—and many feel—entirely normal. Assume (1) that you carry the coronavirus, and could spread it, and (2) that everybody you meet has it, and you don’t want it! If you must go out, wear a mask!

    —William B. Saxbe Jr., MD, MPH, FACS

  12. If the cotton blend t-shirt filters out more of the 0.02 micron particles than the 100% cotton tshirt, why is the 100% cotton t-shirt recommended?

    • Hi Anne, Song here from Smart Air. You are right that the cotton blend filters more. But we also need to take breatheability into consideration.

  13. Do you have a pattern or design that is recommended? What about 100% cotton quilting fabric?

  14. I’m seeing that non-woven polypropylene is the material in N-95 masks. The reusable grocery bags are made of them, not all of them though, I think the key to that one is non-woven. The other material I’ve seen are the blue shop paper-towels [zep or scott]. Home Depot and Amazon were out or extremely expensive but I was able to find them at O’Reilys [automotive]. I also saw vacuum cleaner bags and coffee filters. From what I’ve read, the key to making those masks are making sure they don’t touch your nose or mouth. I’ve been looking for templates as well but no luck yet.

  15. Great read, although from what I’ve seen and heard that using a bonded fabric as filter in between 2 layers of 100%cotton was very effective for a homemade mask. Could that be tested please

    • I’ve heard people are using Pellon interfacing, often fusible, I worry that the fusible substance will disintegrate and get into peoples airways–any thoughts on that? I have some melt-blown fabric ti use as filler, but is that washable, or does that render a mask one-time us?

  16. How about parachute material for masks? Outer lining or inner lining? It is Ripstock nylon.

    • Hi there, I was curious about using silk knowing it’s level of durability. I read the data you posted however wouldn’t the silk being more durable with finer threads per inch .have a greater amount of protection. Just wondering which fabric stash I need to raid prior to sewing. Thanks…

  17. Thank you most useful FACTS for us DIY types. Busy sewing up DIY mask, will use your advice big time., for filter insert Carlton in Canada

  18. T-shirts are Great for making a dyi mask – No sewing required!! 🙂
    All you need is scissors.
    Place T-shirt on flat surface. Cut 1” strip along the hem/bottom except for 9”, about the short side of notebook paper. Continue to cut around paper as a guide, going down and around – Stop when you come back to the 1” strip. Now pick what you have cut and snip strip at back to make the ties. It should look like a bib.
    Pick the bib up and lay across your nose. Cross the ties behind your head then bring ties to the front over the bib and loosely tie under your chin. It makes an easy to wear and comfortable mask.
    With social distancing and better keeping your droplets to yourself, you can help to not spread Your germs to others. 🙂
    ps – thanks for all the good info on the website!

  19. Thanks for the research and easy to read article. I am a RN. Wondering about using cacuum cleaner bags as a disposable insert in a homemade cloth mask. Question is on HEPA vacuum bags, I have read they have fiberglass in them that traps bacteria, mold virus, etc. Does the fiberglass go thru cotton & into respiratory track?

  20. I’m cutting up the 3M filters for AC units to insert into my homemade masks-not to take away from medical personnel-and washing the masks, throwing away the inserts. Is that a good idea?

  21. I have a “{blue light} cleaner for my c-pap. Will this sanitize the surgical or other masks?

  22. Thank you so much for the easy to read information.
    “They” said masks were not effective nor necessary. How strange! We wore our shop masks and later found they were classified as very effective. (N95)
    We plan to make masks to share and also to wear.

    I am very grateful to know double layer cotton t-shirts are effective.
    God bless you.

  23. Also, what options are there for babies? I have a 10 month old that I don’t think would keep a mask on. And we are moving across state. I’d like some protection for her as well. Any creative ideas?

  24. Hello, I am making cotton cloth masks using the Olsen Mask Pattern which has a pocket for a filter/HEPA media insert. I’m trying to source the media which would need to be MERV 15 or greater to filter to .3 microns. Some folks are cutting HEPA vacuum bags or taking apart HEPA air filters for and HVAC unit but these often are made with fiberglass and once the material is cut, fiberglass particles are released and can be breathed in by the mask wearer. Beware!!!

    If anyone has a source for meltblown filter media (without fiberglass) which filters to .3 microns, could you please let me know?

    Thank you and be well everyone!


  25. All the patterns I have seen are two layers thick. Some include an opening for a third, removable layer. Having read your information stating one layer is easier to breathe through, what should we make?

  26. Hi. I am making 2-layer masks with a pocket for a replaceable filter. I have “HEPA-type” filters , the fan folded ones, and I am wondering if they are safe to breathe through. Specifically I am concerned about fiberglass but I can’t get any information from the manufacturer. Does any one know? The are for Febreze Air purifier with replaceable filter.
    Thank you so much!

  27. I heard of a material called Peta or Peda that stops the particals from coming through on homemade masks. is this the case?

    • Hi Nancy. Song here from Smart Air. Glad that you like and trust our posts. If you do not have commercial intent, then the content is free to share with attribution.

  28. I just saw another mask video that uses a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner bag (Hoover). They snip the plastic layer out that is in between the 2 layers of HEPA filter fabric. So, they use 2 layers of HEPA fabric. That would make it more beatheable. Not sure how that compares in either effectiveness or breathability to the vacuum cleaner bag in the test..

  29. Iwant these masks to be washable, hot dryer, reusable. I have good design . I have ordered dress making interfacing for middle layer

    • Hey Richter, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

      • I wonder if we can sew a coffee filter into our cotton masks? I don’t know about breath ability but it seems like it might work?

  30. This is the most important page on the web at the moment. Everyone should read it.

    • Hey Gary, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

  31. I can sew, and I have >non-woven< interfacing in my stash. Has anyone tested this as potential mask fabric?

  32. Great read and very helpful. Thank You!! I decided on the cotton Tshirt option but I did my own take. I cut both sleeves off the Tshirt (outside the seam so the seam stays with the sleeve) and put one inside the other to double up the material. I can fit it over my head with the loose fabric hanging and the sleeve band holding it up as it wraps around my head (below nose bride). Another option if you have access to a cheap, surgical mask is to cut out the remaining Tshirt pieces into the shape and size of the surgical mask. Then place, lay the doubled-up swatch inside the surgical mask. The tension of the mask will hold the cotton material in place in place; optional to wrap a bandana around that surgical mask. Use rubber bands stapled to the sides of the folded up bandana so you can loop around your ears so the bandana doesn’t keep riding down. Add some swimming goggles or lab type clear glasses and you should be better off than with nothing.

  33. Sorry if I post here, but it seems to be impossible elsewhere. I wanted to ask, as far as the re-using and washing of masks is concerned, have you any information on soaking them in a saturated saline solution?

    • Saline is not an anti-bacterial solution. Are you familiar with DIAL SOAP???? It’s what we tell our patients to use prior to surgery if they were not instructed by their surgeons to use hibiclens.
      Hand washing with Dial and using it on everything at home if you are running out of options.
      It’s cheap and available.

    • I dont know if this helps but I watched a health video that said the virus can live on clothing for up to 6 hours (on metal for 12 hours) & that washing the clothes with regular laundry detergent will kill it. It also said that it can’t survive in temperatures over 99 degrees farenheit (38 Celcius) & sunlight heat kills it.

      So I’d assume if it were made of clothing material it could be washed in hot water and reused. May also be a good idea to set them in direct sunlight during driving or other times when isolated during use..

    • I wonder how to clean them, too. Since soap and water are a good way to remove soil and to break the lipid “shell” of viruses and bacteria, that would be the best first step.

    • I’m not sure about soaking them but I did hear that washing your clothes may not get ride of the virus initially.

    • Can’t you just dip the cotton masks in boiling hot water for a specific amount of time or minutes? It seems “stoopid simple” but I sure don’t have any medical or research acumen to know whether it would work or not. Heat & boiling hot water kills a lot of things, y’know.

  34. So is this an average surgical mask that was tested or an N95 mask? Didn’t think regular surgical masks would filter that much.

  35. I’d also like to know if coffee filters would be helpful as a liner for homemade cloth facepieces.

  36. I have a stash of fabric. Can anyone advise on what type of fabric would be best? I have jersey knit cotton – basically t-shirt material. I have cotton flannel, cotton quilting fabric & cotton muslin. ‘Pillowcase’ doesn’t mean much to me – I have cotton pillow cases, bamboo rayon pillowcases, and cotton flannel pillowcases.

  37. I made a mask with a thin padded bra cup from an old padded bra and hand sewed one side of elastic , hook and eye back, to the side of the cup. You can pull the backing up over your ears!

  38. I’m an RN and I’ve been making masks for my husband, also an RN, out of doubled cotton fabric lined with fusible non-woven iterfacing. We are planning to sanitize them after wearing with the ozone sanitizer used on CPAP masks, tubes, etc. I would love to have input about our materials and sanitizing practices. Stay safe, everyone, and God bless!

  39. I am using scraps of cotton flannel which I use for pjs and nighties as one layer and a light cotton for the second layer. Apparently, this is the best solution – 2 layers of cotton.

    • Hey Carmen, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

  40. I’m making masks using 100% cotton fabric with umbrella fabric in between the layers. I figure if an umbrella repels rain, it will help repel droplets. They are breathable too.

    • Hey Wendy, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

    • Hey Matthew, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

    • Hey Candy, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

  41. There’s an online tutorial using furnace filter ‘fabric’ as an insert layer for the home made masks. I wondered about that, it seems unlikely; I’m making masks with 2 layers of tightly woven 100% cotton with a layer of 100% cotton flannel between them, leaving a hole for an ‘insert’ of some kind. At some point, (like using vacuum bags and furnace filters) as a protective insert, it becomes too expensive and I fully expect we’ll run out – but I’m curious (I’m immunocompromised and out of N95’s).

  42. Someone was looking for a pattern. Here are two links to two different types of masks.

    Below is a link address (you will have to copy and paste it) that provides a video of how to make the pleated mask.


    The link address link below provides a video of how to make a mask which is preferable for those working on the front lines; i.e. E.R. per the E.R. nurses for whom I’ve been making them.


    • Hey Deborah, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

  43. What about tissue paper that has been wet then dried? One of the doctors who made his own mask recommended that. Could you please try 1 and 2 layers of wet-dried tissue?

    • Hi Nat, Liz here. A quick answer to your question. Our engineer just conduct a test on wet-dried surgical mask and the filtration efficiency decreases. I don’t have the specific data yet, but I wouldn’t suggest to wear a wet-dried surgical mask. For other materials, we haven’t get a chance to test yet. Hopefully we will have an article out soon.

  44. Hello and thanks for your work here. I read through the comments but I didn’t see a mention an item I was wondering about. There is a paper towel like product that is made by Scott brand called Shop Towels, very durable even wet and feel like a strong fabric but is paper. Here is a link to their product page however there is no info of its materials. Maybe this might be suitable as a replaceable insert???


  45. Please test puppy training pads (torn off the waterproof backing, of course!) and coffee filters as filter material.

    Also – please add the “how to make one” info (currently showing as [coming soon!] ASAP! The frontlines need these quick.


    • I think the masks made from puppy training pads would’ve too hard to breathe in for any length of time. The article states that wearability is critical for homemade masks.

    • I think that adding the puppy pad (non plastic side) to a cotton (t-short/pillow case) material will add to the filtration aspect of the mask.

      Place the puppy pad material in the (inside/outside or between two layers) of the cotton mask and this will add to the % of filtration.

      It may however cause restriction and reduce breathe ability in the mask.

      I am not a professional that test these items…I am just adding my comments here.

    • Coffee filters was recommended by a doctor. So that is what I am using to put in the pocket of the masks I’m making for my daughter-in-law.

    • @Michelle I love your question and wish there was an answer. Not only training pads but how about bed chucks/berliners? Wonder if these are good material choices??

    • There is a youtube video of how to sew your own nask with an inner pocket for a disposable layer/filter. Google diy how to sew mask with inner pocket.

    • Michelle: do you mean remove the blue backing and keep the white backing attached to the quilted filling? If so, great idea.

      • I’m thinking those things that ABSORB liquids would NOT be good. I think we need materials that REPEL it. Maybe?

    • I would also like to know if the coffee filter insert would help improve filtration.

    • I am currently making masks with 100% cotton that includes an inner pocket. I use a coffee filter inside the pocket so in effect its ends up being a 4 ply mask. I also intergrated a nose piece to mold to the face for a better seal. I worked in the medical field for 30 years. So the design was for me was easy to fix. If you make a mask i suggest using a zig zag stitch for elasticty and contoures the face better.

  46. what about using a 100% cotton baby diaper? Do you think that would work for a DIY Mask?

    • or pantyliners, which some people use. But as a removable filter, so you can wash the cloth mask.

  47. Would adding a layer of lightweight/featherweight non-woven fusible interfacing between the two layers improve filtration without compromising breath ability ?

    • That is precisely what I’m making – layered between superfine cheesecloth, then covered with 100% cotton cloth. Quad-folded super heavy-duty foil hidden in the nose-bridge (for shaping). Bias tape edging and for tying, elastic eventually hurts behind the ears. My first ‘tests’ have shown good breathing comfort. I placed a completed sample over my vacuum hose , secured with duct tape to see how much flour would get through. I’m not a scientist and cannot measure in microns, but my Dyson vacuum showed barely a spec of flour. Of course COVID-19 isn’t visible, but I’ll use any reduction I can, if needs must.

    • I had this same question…. same as embroidery stabilizer, most are some type of melt blown / non woven fabrics which is what the commercial masks are made out of. I think it all depends on the nap / weight, but I was hoping that somebody would test some different weights to see if it did offer some extra protection but without reducing breathability too much. i hope somebody answers.

  48. Even if cotton shirts are a good alternative material, there are various types and weights of cotton material. They can’t all perform the same.

    • None of the materials they used in the study had been pre-washed, either! Many fabrics are treated with chemicals during manufacturing.
      Polyester fibers are naturally kinky or fuzzy….it is why fabrics of polyester offer better sun protection. Knowing this, I wish they would test them for virus penetration. Also, home seamstresses know about non-woven polyester fabrics used inside garments. Those should be tested for virus penetration also!!

    • Also, T-shirts’ fabric tends to shed lint and become substantially thinner over time and washes. I’d guess a mask made out of a new T-shirt would be filter out than one made out of the T-shirt you were almost ready to throw out anyway because it’s so worn. I suppose the latter would be more breathable, though.

  49. i asked a question that was designed by your site, smartairfilters.com to be answered. i do not want an answer from the public who hasn’t tested the material as you have. please clarify the information which you have provided. here it is again. the image is of a pillow but you say pillow case, your studies say pillow case. is it the pillow case that is purchased separately? or is it the casing around a pillow in which case i would cut open a pillow and take the stuffing out and use that material. you have to answer the question not the public! it is your information. tghe public would not know. can you please answer the question or is this really a hoax site?

    • Janet, this site is referring to a university study that (unfortunately) offers zero specifics about the actual fabric they used beyond what is written here (t-shirt, pillowcase).
      In an ideal world the researchers would have noted thread fiber (cotton, silk, polyester, etc) weave (damask, satin, dobby, percale, etc) thread size/count (200, 400, etc). Instead they reported “pillowcase.”

      Also, the study determined that 100% cotton t-shirt was BETTER at filtering and breathing easily than the pillowcase, so you should just use a t-shirt anyhow!

    • I would assume they mean a separate pillowcase, and the pillow is just a photo used for illustrative purposes, because a pillowcase by itself would just look like a rectangle.

  50. Iv’e donated my 38 masks to a general health practitioner and promised to make more for them. They really need them everywhere, so please everyone, if you can please make masks.

  51. hello there, thank you for the information. is it the outside of a pillow that is effective. or is it actually the pillowcase the goes on top of the pillow that you are referring to. the photo shows a pillow but you say pillow case. can you please clarify that?

  52. Can you sew a mask and put a double removable insert of paper towels and still breath well and increase the efficiency? Also sew in a flexable strip of metal for the nose area. Thank you for what you do, loved all your reads love to learn.

    • I tried improving an N95 mask by inserting additional padding. I could barely breathe and it turned out I was allergic to whatever was I. The extra padding and my whole neck broke out! I did wipe down the outside of my N95 with alcohol and let it dry thoroughly between use. I probably should have done the inside as well. I’m still looking for better ways to keep the N95 cleaner for review-use on inside and out.

      • To explain why spraying alcohol on your mask is not advisable, let’s look at the materials used in a surgical mask: A good-quality one has a white absorbent side plus middle and outer colored layers that are water-repellent. This prevents water droplets and fluids from being absorbed into the mask from the outside. Likewise, the absorbent layer facing you will prevent YOUR bodily fluids from escaping the mask. If you spray alcohol on a waterproof coating, it dissolves the barrier and lets water pass through. A chemistry teacher at Taipei’s Kainan Vocational High School explained, “Because of the need to block liquid droplets, the masks have a layer of waterproof coating on the surface. After alcohol is added, as alcohol is both lipophilic (will combine with/dissolve in lipids or fats) and hydrophilic (attracted to water), it will dissolve part of this coating. If this coating is dissolved, water will easily pass through it.”

      • Some say the virus dies on the mask after 5 hours, to just let it air dry in the sun. Alchohol and washing liquid interfere with particle absorption.

    • I made a double layer cotton flannel mask with opening to insert a filter. I have put a doubled coffee filter inside as the filter, for now. I ordered some hepa filter vacuum bags, but haven’t received them. The cotton flannel is very tightly woven, so I’m hoping with two layers of that and 2 layers of coffee filter, an adequate amount of protection will be provided, at least for personal use, if not in a medical setting.

    • Hey Samia, we’re working on testing coffee filters and should have a follow-up article out soon!

  53. Can someone give me a close-up picture of the kind of “tea towel” they are talking about? 100% cotton? Poly cotton? Flour sack? Dish towel is just too vague… Thank you… ?

  54. Can you please add the fiber content of all the things you have listed, especially the “tea towel” and where you say “blend”. I feel this is very important information. Thank you for all you are doing.

    • I agree. A pillowcase can be made very cheaply with low thread count then there is the Percale, high thread count.
      Also should and cotton be preshrunk to make less porous.

  55. The instructions I’ve read all say to use non woven fabric as the filter. I want to make masks to give to a local hospital. My question is this. Will multiple layers of non woven banner material work? I have a lot of it. It’s what they use for wedding banners. You can breathe through 3 or 4 layers of it easily. It is much like lightweight interfacing. It is also washable.

    • Could non-woven interfacing work as an insert between the outer layer and the lining? Maybe like the lightweight interfacing mentioned in Linda’s post?

  56. I have a bunch of new ripstop nylon for another project I was thinking of but I wonder if it would be good to use as a middle layer for masks?

  57. I have lots of silk charmeuse scraps / if I line with 100% cotton, could these work. Might be too soft to hold the pleats ??? Silk taffeta is quite stiff and would hold the pleats..can be hand washed over and over…

  58. I want to be able to help make mask have great sewing skills and know we are short. I just want to be part of a solution.

    • Hi Jennifer, I’m so glad to see so many of you want to make DIY masks to help your friends and families and your local hospitals! We will soon have a DIY mask video out, and more materials to be tested. Stay tuned!

  59. I work at Costco where it feels like a zombie apocalypse, how can I protect myself? Social distancing isn’t always possible

    • Hi Ziggy, sorry to hear this. We appreciate everyone working for the public in retail and manufacturing industries at this special time. I’d say always wear a mask when you are at work, and wash your hands or use rubbing alcohol often. Still, try to keep a distance from others to minimize the risk! Good luck, and hope all the best.

    • Hi Ziggy: When I go out for groceries, I wear gloves and still use hand sanitizer on them. I can then just peel them off before I touch my car when leaving. You’ll need extras to use after you’ve been to the washroom, but it is extra protection. God love you for helping us all.

  60. Really looking forward to seeing what you all come up with from your tests. I’d like to thank you for doing these tests, too. I’m a disabled nurse and am very concerned about health care professionals all over the US not having the supplies they need. If we can figure out the best materials to use to make masks, maybe I could make some to take to local hospitals. Looking forward to your future tutorial and research results.

    • Hi Mia, I’m glad to read your kind post. We are working on the DIY tutorial and a new batch of material tests. Stay tuned! And best regards from the Smart Air team to you and all working on the front line!

      • Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve also been thinking hard about the types of materials needed and whether they can be water resistant yet breathable and washable. Wished I knew some textile scientists! There’s a huge fallacy that homemade masks don’t work and when I asked on a forum about fabrics to use, was met with huge ridicule bordering on contempt.

  61. “Yet the extra dish cloth layer boosted performance by 14%. ”
    It’s much more dramatic than that. You care about the particles that made it through the mask, which drop from 17% to 3%. That’s a *huge* drop! (3% is about %17 squared, so not implausible.)

  62. What about bras. I have at least ten underwires, that’s 20 potential masks, in my top drawer.

    • Hi Melanie, we plan to do some tests on the bra pads soon (and other materials)! The article will be published as soon as the tests are done! Stay tuned!

  63. Hi, I have seen dried baby wipes as an option. Would that possibly work as a second layer?

  64. I’m in the US and my son is a physician on the front lines. They don’t have masks or other PPEs. Thanks for this.

    • Jeez, I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope the supply will keep up real soon!!! And you are so welcome! I’m glad that this article is helping the front line too, in some extent. We will be testing more materials next week, and post new articles as soon as the results are out. Good luck to your son and all healthcare professionals working in the hospital! Best wishes from the whole Smart Air team to you and your families!

  65. What about microfiber bed sheets? Would that be the same as an antimicrobial pillowcase? The stores are full of them, and they are cost-effective if making several or many facemasks.

  66. I’ve made mine from vacuum cleaner bags & cotton. You can see what they look like on my website.

    • I thought about them to. Will they survive a washing?? I’m intending my masks to be reusable.

  67. Thank you for this great article. This is the information I was looking for.
    I intend to make masks and send then to hospitals. I think nurses should be nursing, not making masks.
    I have two questions. First I have a pretty good stash of 100%cotton which I use for making quilts. Is this sufficient? Second if it’s not and I have to get cotton t-shirt material, what weight should I get? Light, medium or heavy weight. Thank you.

    • hi Nanon, I’m so glad to read all these replies like yours hoping to help your local hospitals! That’s a good question for combining different materials to make a DIY mask. We just ordered more testing materials and will be doing new tests next week. We’ll publish a new article as soon as the testing results are out! Stay tuned!

  68. Do you have a sewing template? I’m hoping to rally people to make these ASAP, like people did with the animal care items in Australia. Thank you for this website

    • Hi Joni,we are working on a DIY tutorial now, and will be testing more materials in the following week. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, I saw other’s comments that there are plenty of instructions available on Youtube!

      • I’m testing a homemade mask with t-shirt material and the thin outer layer of a waterproof jacket or umbrella. I imagine it being waterproof will be a good barrier for droplets. How does one know if a mask is effective? One source said that if we put something strong smelling in front of us and we can’t smell it, that it’s an effective mask. Any thoughts on that as well as the waterproof jacket?

    • Has to be able to be washed over and over. Don’t know how well coffee filters would hold up to that. Never tried washing them.

  69. sorry, didn’t scroll down far enough to notice that this suggestion had already been brought up.

  70. I noticed vacuum cleaner bags in your test list. That made me think that there are vacuum (hoover) bags from HEPA filter material, which should be the same filter material as in N95 masks. Any chance of testing that?

  71. I have two medically fragile kids with tracheostomies, ventilators, g-tubes, seizures, etc. I am desperate for N-95 masks. Does anyone have instructions on how to make the ones described on this site?

  72. I’ve got possibly 100 volunteers at home, with sewing machines, ready to make face masks out here on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle (where hospital staff reporting materials are already running low). We have sewing machines and an incredible amount of cotton fabric, need best patterns, (coffee filter inserts?)more info on sterilizing at all stages. ASAP Thanks!

    • Hi Gretchen, wow, sounds exciting that you have so many volunteers ready for the battle! We are working on the DIY tutorial and more material tests too, and will publish the article and video as soon as possible! So stay tuned!

  73. Try a t-shirt mask with a disposable paper towel or coffee filter insert. The mask part can be disinfected and reused and the inexpensive liner thrown away.

  74. What about waterproof dental bibs? They seem to fall sort of in between fabric and paper

  75. I thank you for your article on DIY masks. I was thinking how to make a DIY face shield (I have an old one for wood working). I think if you have a cap or something with a head band, the material for the face shield could be a transparent laminating sheet such as 3M Letter size #LS854G which is 8 1/2inches x 11 inches attached to a ball cap turned backward.

  76. Down-proof ticking (used in pillow liners to prevent the feather quills poking through) is a very high thread count material and usually made of cotton, so still breathable. You could source it by taking apart any down or feather pillow. It’s also washable.

  77. Bonjour à tous,
    merci pour cet éclaircissement sur le choix des matières pour la partie confection du masque, n’hésitez pas a contacter Renaud Aivaliotis un couturier que j’ai accompagné sur certains de ses projets lors de son lancement. Il a apporté des modifications sur les patrons proposés en PDF par le CHU de Grenoble et celui de saint brieuc (le patron est le meme mais avec des explications plus claires).
    Voici le lien de la video de son tutoriel video https://www.facebook.com/renaudaivaliotis/videos/2352237185074810/?t=2

  78. I want to try to make some mask for my Church members … how do I get a pattern and the material to make them and I want pass some out to elderly people that has to go to for Doctor visits ….PleSe help me … My name is Anita Hailey and I live in Charlotte North Carolina…Thanks for your help…❣️

    • Hi Anita, I’m so grateful to see so many of you are willingly to make DIY masks to help those in needs. We are working on a DIY mask tutorial and also plan to test more materials in the following week(s). Stay tuned!

  79. Is there a way to be notified when the mask construction information gets added to the blog?

    • Hi Gordon, you can follow up on Facebook or Twitter ( @smartairfilters ). When we have a new article out, we always post in our social media and the blog around the same time!

  80. Hey, how about polyester and fleece, specifically a fleece neck warmer? Another thing to test 🙂

    • I had that same question. I have some of thst fabric. I could help sew if it is aporoved.

    • Hi Thea, I added eco bag in our to test list already! Hopefully we will have a chance to get this done soon!

  81. 1. Have you tested coffee filters?
    2. Doesn’t filter area as well as filter efficiency make a big difference in how easy it is to breath through the mask?
    3. I suspect (untested) that one reason why N95 and surgical masks appear to have about the same efficiency in preventing the spread of flu, is that the virus rarely occurs as a particle but most frequently as a passenger on an aerosol droplet, which most masks can stop.
    4. I wear a mask to prevent passing on my pathogens to you. Please wear a mask to prevent passing on yours to me.

  82. Where can I find how to make my own mask please, I have my inmune defenses low and need to protect my self.

      • Hi Liz, I was just about to ask for instructions 🙂
        Thanks for all the effort you guys put into informing us! Wish you all the best!

    • Wear gloves and cover your face. It doesn’t have to be a mask, a scarf will do. Avoid any space that’s crowded. Wash your hands after touching anything that someone else has touched (especially door handles – ion doors with your elbow), stay calm, be kind and stay safe.

    • You can find a YouTube video or if you are crafty cut 9”x6” x 2 pcs or 7.5” x 5” x 2pcs (child size). Stitch right sides, leave opening to turn. You can attach elastic when sewing, on ends. Turn inside out so that right sides are out, and make three pleats on short ends, pin. Stitch all the way around on top twice.

  83. You forgot to add a layer of charcoal and cotton. I found to be highly effective when testing paint fumes and ammonia.

    • Wow hey Ann! That’s a good material to test out too! I’ll add it in the to test list. I hope we have a chance to test it out soon!

  84. I used Hepa filter from Vacuum cleaner bag, cut it up to fit inside a DIY cloth mask made with filter pocket. Wash the cloth mask weekly, change the Hepa filter daily.

    • wash the cloth mask every time you take it off. otherwise you will be reinfecting from the microbes on the surface of the cloth!!

    • Honestly I don’t know but if I were to guess I’d assume a coffee filter wouldn’t be all that effective. Probably toward the 20% end. But, of course using anything as opposed to nothing at all would be better. Stay safe, stay home when possible & take good care.

  85. Can you guys do a “moist filter” or “wet filter” test as well? I’m curious to know if having water particles present within the fabric could help capture more (at the cost of some breathability).

    • Hi Spade, good question! I’ll add this in our testing list too! Hopefully we will get a chance to test it out soon!

    • Hi Fiona, I’ll put thi in our to test list, and hopefully we will get a chance to test it!

      • Yes, PUL cloth was also my question : breathable, water resistant and some can be washed at 90 degrees

    • Hi Fiona, I’ll put this in our to test list, and hopefully we will get a chance to test it!

    • Hi Wendi, people are bringing up all kinds of materials they want to test. I’ll add yours in our to test list too, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to test them out!

  86. What about old bathing suits that are double lined or even old bras. Also if worse came to worse what about using girl pads? Thank you

    • Hi, Linisan, good thought! It would be nice to test that out too! I’ll add it in our list and see if we will have a chance to do it!

  87. How do you make a mask from a vacuum cleaner bag. I have a whole case of 3M Filtrete micro-particle bags!

  88. I have many new 100% 300/ 210 TC bedsheets left in my store. Can it be good for making a mask at home? Will it work effectively? Please suggest

  89. I just finished making two masks, yay me. Now, how do I clean them? I am assuming I need to. Mine are made out of cotton pillowcase, as recommended.

    • Hi Ineka, we have an upcoming article on how to clean your mask. So stay tuned!

  90. Hi, thanks for this study! One thing I can’t seem to find the answer to here, can we wash the home made masks and they retain the same effectiveness? Are we supposed to only use them for 3 hours before replacing them? Thanks!

  91. I hear that bamboo fabric is anti-microbial.
    I found this article very interesting. Thank you for the great infomation!

    • Felt can’t be washed at high temperature, so not suitable for reuse. And I guess the structure is too open to capture the extra small Corona particals.

      • really? I thought that how felt was made? the individual hair strands grabbing onto eachother in the heating and friction process

  92. OMG! I am so grateful for this information. I’ve been searching all over for info on DIY masks. I even made three. The easiest one to to wear was made with the sleeve of an old cotton t-shirt. Now I know to just double it! (I also made one from coffee filters layered with a paper towel, and one made with paper towels and Kleenex. I felt like I was suffocating. You have validating my initial instinct. PS I also cut up my last HEPA allergen vacuum cleaner bag. I’m so glad I read this first!!!

  93. Are there any results on the effectiveness of hemp? Specifically, the hemp-jersey sometimes used (because it absorbs moisture so easily without wicking through) in (DIY) cloth diapers. I just used a double layer of that inside scraps of T-shirt fabric that were laying around (just because it’s prettier).

    • Hi Pilar, we haven’t done any test on hemp. But I guess it will not work great because of the roughly knit texture. However, an additional layer will not harm the efficiency of your cotton fabric filtration capability, so for a looking purpose, I think it’s fine to add the hemp layer!

  94. Thank you for this study! I hope that I don’t have to make any masks, but my son said they are running low in the ER (he’s a nurse) and having to be creative. Please post ASAP re: coffee filter study!!

  95. I applaud this article vigorously for the well researched information and for the benefit of community all over the world. This information is helpful for the people who made own homemade mask. I like it.

  96. Thank you for sharing this information. Probably would help to include guidance for fitting and washing the homemade masks. I was thinking a pocket across the nose to insert a bendable piece of metal? Rolled up aluminum foil perhaps?

      • Sorry if I was not clear. Of course aluminum foil cannot be used as basic mask material! I meant using a small roll of it 14” x 2.5” in lieu of the flat bendable metal strip found on many n-95 masks to improve fit. My suggestion was to make a small pocket to hold the aluminum strip across the nose bridge.

        Frankly, I’m thinking that wool felt might be an excellent filter due to its natural static charge and the lanolin in the fibers. The envelope of the corona virus molecule is broken down by fats. Lanolin is a fat.

  97. i’m about to make my first mask as i venture onto the bus to the grocery store tomorrow…i sew for others and myself, so i have tons of fabric of all kinds. i like to use high thread count sheets as backing for quilts, so i have a lot of sheet scraps. since they are more closely, tightly woven i figured id make one layer from a sheet scrap and perhaps use a softer t-shirt scrap for the lining for comfort. i’m making the instructables pocketed mask found here:
    i plan to use a 2 layers of custom cut paper towel as a filter in the pocket. i will look for vacuum cleaner bags at the store tomorrow to try out as well.
    wish me luck!!! thanks for the info!

  98. Esperaré atenta el el DIY de como hacer la mascarilla doble 🙂 gracias por la información!!!!

    • Hi Emine, I will add velvet in our to test list, and hopefully we will get a chance to test it!

    • That depends on whether you also have a VOC issue. Charcoal is for adsorbing VOCs like the gaseous pollutant in smoke or formaldehyde.

  99. I own a small clothing alteration shop we could make masks if we could get material l live 200 mters from a hospital so could help with hospital shortages

  100. what great and timely articles. We just started the research to make our own masks so the information has helped narrow down the materials to use. We bought some cloth masks in China a few years back which we hope to use as a model but we’d welcome a pattern and materials list if you make your own.

  101. Hi Paddy,
    I’m from Poland, and we have here T-shirts with many different cotton weight – 210 g/m² , 150 g/m²,
    125 g/m², 170 g/m².
    Which g/m² is best for face mask ?

    Thank you for answer.

    • The original research doesn’t specify this info, Mart. I’ve contacted the researchers to ask for more details on the types of material used.

      • based on what the article says, suggest that you use cotton, and the thicker the better (however, make sure you can breathe through it).

    • HEPA filter material could be a great option, although the material may be fairly brittle and might not fold that easily. Also, it’s worth checking what kind of HEPA material you have. There are typically two types: fiberglass and synthetic (PP+PET). The fiberglass type material wouldn’t be recommended for putting on your face, as small fibers might break off and irritate your skin.

  102. Hello from Milan, thank you for such useful information! I’m looking for the best DIY mask with materials one can find in the house. I have TNT fabric and filters for a ionizer, do you you think that they would suit for a mask? When will you be able to post the making of the mask, since we are really in need of it?

  103. Hi. Please try one with Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) outer layer, cotton middle layer, & athletic wicking jersey lining. Just like in cloth diapers. It’s breathable, water-resistant outer layer & quick drying lining. We have one here in our area that makes this kind of cloth mask. I want to check if this is more effective than other cloth masks in the market.

    • I have sewn with PUL fabric. It’s great to make diaper covers and changing pads but it has a rubber like backing. I seriously do not know how you could breath through this. I actually just went down to my sewing room and held the PUL fabric over my face, no way. It would be like putting a plastic bag over your head

  104. How about two different layers. One tea towel one t shirt. Filter at different rates? Better overall coverage ?

  105. What about coffee filters, They are already shaped and breathable?
    You can get a couple hundred per box.

      • I’d like to know about coffee filters too !! I use a basic dust mask with a full coffee filter inside and a Buff over it. It fits very well, breath well to me.

      • Hey Paddy,
        Any chance you could test those coffee filters soon ?

        We have HUGE shortage of face masks here in France… meaning our health workers are sometimes not allowed to wear them in the hospital.

        Thank you very much,

      • Please say a coffee filter doesn’t work … if it does, then we won’t be able to find any in the stores, as they will sell out like everything else!

      • Hi Diane, I definitely second that as a part time barista! lol We already have coffee filter (different types) on our to test list and will start working on the tests soon! Stay tuned!

  106. if it can be added please Bamboo paper towels? they seems more woven than regular paper towels

  107. Dear Paddy, thank you so much for such an informative article!
    What about non woven fabric that many masks contain: can it be used as a replaceable filter in DIY cotton masks?

    • The Cambridge researchers didn’t get round to testing synthetics, and we don’t have any data on them… yet! We’re putting together a list of other materials to test, we hope to get round to it soon!

    • We haven’t tested this material yet Kathie, but we’ll add it to our list of ‘hope to test’ materials! A quick estimate would be that it’s slightly harder to breathe through, and slightly thicker than cotton t-shirts so its effectiveness may well be about the same or slightly better. Although we have no data to back this up right now. Wait for the data for the final answer!

  108. I mean a sort of disinfectant vapours or gels etc that kills the viruses and not harms the wearer or others.

    At worst you may breather dead viruses that manage to get through.

  109. Can this help – The whole of the mask is opaque except for the small front area where the nose and mouth is for breathing and is made of your tea towel (or any other best material there is) and in that front area there is a disc or a pocket like patch containing disinfectant or vaporub through which the air filters first and kills the virus.

    • That’s British English for a ‘dish cloth’ or ‘dish towel’ Joe! ? You’ve now sent me on a wild goose chase. Who’d have thought there would be so many names for a tea towel…. here’s just some of them! Tea towel, dish cloth, dish towel, drying-up cloth. Heard of those? ?

      • What weave of fabric is the tea towel you tested; terry cloth, flat woven cotton, waffle woven cotton….?

        • Unfortunately the researchers didn’t give an exact specification for the weave of the material. I’ve contacted the original team and have asked for more details. Let’s hope they provide the information.

        • I would really apprecciate the Information because I have tea towels made of linen and of cotton (straight/waffle) and I also read it can be made of cotton muslin and these are all completely different in thickness and density. I am hoping for an answer from them soon ^^;

          Also, I read the paper but it was not clear to me if they tested only the filtration of the wearers breath (from the inside out) or also the filtration of the outside air while breathing in?

          Thank you for your work!

        • Hi Katharina, good question! The original test is done from the wearer’s side. But we are working on more tests from another side, and will update the article when the data is out! So stay tuned!

      • The ones shown in a previous article have a waffle apperaring weave, usually white with some stripes or one-color plaid effect.

      • I suspect an indirect relationship between absorbency and better filtering. Perhaps linen is better filter, as it is worse getting things dry!

        • However, linen is excellent at cleaning crystal, glass, and silverware. I keep a fine linen napkin by the driver’s seat in my car to wipe the inside of the windshield when it gets dusty. No smearing.

  110. What kind of material is the pillow case and tea towel made of? Are they not 100% cotton? Or is it about density?

    And what about the cotton mix?

    Do we have information about the breathability of 3M Masks in compare to the surgical- or DIY masks?
    It would be helpful to make a
    better comparison between effectiveness and breathability.

    And are there information about DIY-Masks with replaceable (coffee) filters?

  111. I had an idea and I thought I’d run it by you… What if I used a sheet of activated charcoal, like this: PUREBURG 1-PACK Cut-to-Fit Carbon Pad 16 x 48 inches for Air Filters Charcoal Sheet fits Air Purifiers Range Hoods Furnace Filters removes Odor VOC Parts Accessories Replacement Replenishment and more https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PYDT9KR/ref=cm_sw_r_wa_apa_i_PtuAEb61STX6G
    Do you think it, in addition to, say, the T-shirt material or the pillowcase, make it more effective and keep it easy to breathe through?

    • Good idea on using carbon! One thing to be aware of: carbon helps filter out gases, but not particles. Since the coronavirus is a particle (with a size of about 100 nanometers, or 0.1 microns), then adding carbon to your DIY mask won’t actually help protect you from the virus. It may help with other things like formaldehyde, but not for the viruses! Read more about what activated carbon is, and what it’s useful for in our post here.

      • Could it not hurt to put carbon filter inserts in them? We have fabric masks we use here on the farm and they have the paper/carbon filters in them. Do you think it would give any additional protection at all or should I just not bother? Thank you for the great article. Wish it had some links to patterns. We’re bracing for what’s coming and doing everything we can to prepare.

  112. Hello Paddy, thank you for these posts and for the analysis you did! Regarding tea towels, they are not a common item here in the US. Can you tell us more about what these are and maybe the thread count of the tea towels that you used in your analysis? On Amazon, they refer to flour sack cloths and tea towels interchangeably but, a flour sack cloth is a loosely woven dish towel. Thanks!

    • I think in the US ‘tea-towels’ are normally called ‘dish towels’ or ‘dish cloths’. They’re what you use to dry your pots and pans after washing up, and are typically made out of cotton or other materials with good absorption properties. I’m sure you’ll be able to find them on Amazon!

        • As they mentioned that the tea towel (dish towel/dishcloth) was more difficult to breathe through, I suspect it was made of terrycloth, not muslin. I intend to make some from cotton cloth lined with flannel, and see how breathable they are.

          Keep in mind that wearing a mask without gloves has limited effectiveness (we all touch our face frequently), and that any masks worn must be washed before wearing again!

        • We have used tea towels/dish towels daily for decades. None made of muslin which is thin and smooth. DIsh towels usually a cotton/linen blend, or 100% cotton, or 100% linen, or a cotton/poly blend. Most have a nubbled weave efficient at absorbing moisture.

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