DIY Guide For The Perfect Zero Waste Masks

“Help, please, help!” Nature has been crying and shouting for help for quite some time. Now, it is our turn; we have to listen and act. 

Half of the planet is at home. Precious time that we lacked is now plentiful. A lot of us have many projects in mind. Thus, what if one of them would be “changing”? Changing our way of consuming things, changing our habits, introducing Zero Waste in our daily life? 

This might sound like a huge challenge. But now that you have TIME why not use this to improve yourselves and your relationship to the planet? Thus, we decided to write this post on masks and how to make them in a Zero Waste way.

Why Reusable Face masks?

Governments of the world have recently provided guidelines to try to open up countries. In Europe, governments are enforcing the use of face masks wherever social distancing cannot take place. 

Indeed scientists mostly agree on the topic regarding masks. And even if social distancing measures ease up, wearing a mask will probably remain.

Considering that the labor force of the world in 2019 was around 3.4 billion people and that it is recommended to change masks every 4 hours, think about the amount of waste it is triggering. 

Stop for a minute and count how many of these paper, plastic, elastic-made protections will be wasted and thrown away. A possible alternative could be using a Reusable and Zero Waste Face Mask

In this article, our goal is to give essential tips for a homemade and Zero Waste face mask. 

You might feel lost when you see all the tutorials and documents available online. 

Therefore, we will simply try to summarize for you the information that we feel is the most relevant and in line with our Zero Waste Principles

Being a big fan of the DIY concept, we also decided to start producing our own reusable face masks after many prototypes and hours of reading. 

Zero Waste Masks
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Face Masks Facts

In terms of information regarding face masks, we gathered the ideas that we found to be the most relevant, funny, and friendly-user type.

Starting with official governmental organizations like The AFNOR (French Organization for Normalization) who published its guidelines and patterns for interested parties. 

They also published a multi-lingual version after the website became viral in early April 2020. 

Their goal was to provide companies and individuals explicit norms to produce their face masks. 

We must admit that for your in-house production, there are plenty of technical details and parameters that cannot be taken into account when sewing your face mask at home. 

However, they detail the know-how and provide patterns for two different types: the “Duckbill”-type mask and its cousin, the”Flat-fold” mask. 

The point being, you can find a vast number of ideas and tutorials to make your mask. We wanted to introduce some of them because they enter the Zero Waste thinking through their concern for Reusing or Repurposing, in addition to their simplicity. Here are a few examples of other ways to get a face mask:

  • Do you want to get rid of old T-shirts? Have a look at this tutorial to make your comfortable mask while up-cycling, by Jan Howell:
  • Fashion is also a focus, and bandanas have been pointed as a quick and straightforward way of making a mask.
  • Sports lovers can also turn their buffs into masks.

Finally, hospitals also played a significant role. Back in March 2020, the CHU of Grenoble in France became very famous for sharing their pattern. 

The significant advantage that we see with this model is the simplicity and the different sizes that allow solutions for the whole family. 

It also sticks to efficient details and remains very clear when it comes to applying the method at home.

Finally, hospitals also played a significant role. Back in March 2020, the CHU of Grenoble in France became very famous for sharing their pattern. 

The significant advantage that we see with this model is the simplicity and the different sizes that allow solutions for the whole family. 

It also sticks to efficient details and remains very clear when it comes to applying the method at home.

Zero Waste Mask Tips

Regarding the daily use of your mask, please find below a series of tips and recommendations to consider:

  • The maintenance of your face mask: it goes into your washing machine with a 60°C or 90°C cycle (i.e., at high temperature). Usual washing with natural or standard soap is OK. Moreover, in terms of drying we suggest you iron the face mask for best results. But be careful with your ironing as these face masks are fabric-made products. Make sure you always inspect the masks after washing and before reusing them. Visual inspection is the first step to make sure your mask remains effective.
  • The test: how can you know that your mask is effective and safe enough to wear? We relied on a straightforward test. Simply light a match in front of your mouth while wearing your homemade face mask. If the flame goes out, your mask is not safe enough. 
  • If you are worried about the effects of wearing a mask on sensitive skin, you should consider the ingredients of the mask. First and foremost, seek medical advice in case of doubts.  Washing the fabric before creating your mask is also highly recommended. Nevertheless remember, homemade and reusable face masks are far better for your skin than any other type. If the fabric you use directly comes from your wardrobe, for example, you might already know if your skin will bear it or not. It is an excellent way of placing Zero Waste as a necessity for your wellbeing.
  • Placing and removing your mask is very important as well. Distancing measures are more than ever to be respected. Washing your hands before and after touching your face mask is a must(The AFNOR website also mentions clear guidelines on the topic).
  • The fabric to use: the AFNOR website has recommendations on materials. However, we find these recommendations to be very technical, so keep that in mind. Other companies, such as Self Tissus, provide useful advice regarding the recommended ingredients for your homemade production. They also offer a choice of biological fabrics. 
  • How to strip your mask onto your head? It might not seem so important, but remember that the strips will be around your head consistently. Whether you take the option of the elastic-made strips or taken from the laces of your old shoes, make sure you try it for a day before making more. Children might also have issues with the elastic material around their ears. An  idea to allow any hairstyle this summer or to help kids wearing their masks is this:
  • Make sure kids are also wearing a face mask: yes, this is happening. We all want our kids to be as protected as possible. However, it can be challenging to get kids to respect social distancing measures. Nevertheless, we recommend you make them wear a mask as well. 

Zero Waste DIY Face Mask

We think that the idea of creating something that will genuinely be useful for you or your beloved ones is compelling and motivating.

From the very beginning, we planned to reinforce my zero waste living by creating things. After a while, producing face masks became a no-brainer.

We wanted to share with you our recipe for a good, helpful, and useful DIY mask:

The ingredients: 

  • Motivation
  • Free time
  • Old jeans or scrap fabric 
  • Old laces or children’s trousers with elastic to reuse
  • Buttons (thank you, grandma) 


  • Our beloved sewing machine
  • Testing subjects (thanks to your significant others at home)
  • Colored sewing thread

And in regards to the kids? They loved taking part in choosing the fabric they would wear.

We also adapted the strips so that they can adjust the mask by themselves. In the end, we spent hours together fitting the mask on our faces. 

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adjustable strips on a kid
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Baby Face mask-min
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Final Thoughts

Zero waste thinking must begin somewhere, so why not start here? These masks are a great way to challenge yourself creatively for a good cause while protecting the environment. 

If you have any questions regarding the making of your mask with the above, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

If DIY is your world, have a look at what you can do with school supplies and other common objects in your house.

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