Now that the CDC is recommending that we all wear masks when we go out, there are lots of DIY versions.

I heard about the Blue Shop Towel mask from Business Insider  

I like this one because it’s snug. And, a toxicologist from the University of North Carolina, Phillip Clapp, tested a version using a shop towel and another that had more filtration by utilizing two shop towels. He found that two shop towels was the most effective way to reduce particles from getting to your nose and mouth. In fact, in his testing using twoshop towels was more effective than using a typical surgical mask. 

As a nurse practitioner, I’ve worn every kind of mask and was pleasantly surprised that the Blue Shop Towel mask provided a much more snug and secure fit. 

I tried out several versions at home and found that after making nice and neat accordion folds using two shop towels, it’s impossible to staple the ends.  Because I grew up during the “McGyver era”, I discovered a nifty trick that lets you use two shop towels for better filtration and still be able to assemble and staple it together.  

Here’s the Nurse Barb Blue Shop Towel Mask

Step 1: Supplies needed:

  • 2 – blue shop towels
  • 2 – rubber bands
  • 1 – paper clip
  • a roll of cellophane tape
  • a stapler

Step 2: Make the nose strip by straightening a paper clip and bending the ends toward the middle.

Step 3:  Place 2 blue shop towels on a flat surface and tape the straightened paper clip to the top which will cover the nose. Fold about 1” of each inner side edge of the top towel toward the center.

Step 4: Using both layers of shop towels, fold over the top of the paper clip 3 times and fold about  ½” of the lower edge, which will cover the chin, toward the middle.

Photo #4  Nose and chin folds

Step 5: Turn the folded towels over and make accordion folds, being careful to tuck in the bottom chin fold so that it faces the inner surface of the mask.

Photo #5 Accordion folds

Step 6: Staple both outer edges at the inner fold line.

Step 7: Tear the middle of outside edges to accommodate the rubber bands.

Step 8:  Place the rubber bands at the edges near the first staple. 

Step 9: Being careful not to staple the rubber bands, staple the outer edges twice for more strength.

That’s how you make a blue shop towel mask. 

Washing and cleaning

One of the other great things about them is that you can wash them in soapy water, then immerse for 10 minutes in boiled water to kill any germs, let them dry, and reuse them. One more note, after washing, you may need to reinforce the tape that holds the paper clip in place. 

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