“Reusing Old Coffee Filters to Make Budget Filter Masks”

“Reusing Old Coffee Filters to Make Budget Filter Masks”

With the ongoing pandemic, the demand for protective face masks has skyrocketed. As disposable medical masks become scarce and expensive, many people have turned to making their own masks at home. An inexpensive and readily available material for making homemade masks is the humble coffee filter.

What Are Coffee Filters Made Of?

Coffee filters are typically made from a blend of cellulose and polypropylene fibers. The cellulose provides porosity and filtration, while the polypropylene adds durability. This combination of materials makes coffee filters useful for trapping fine particles, while still allowing air flow.

Here are some key properties of coffee filter materials:

  • Cellulose – Natural plant fiber that is very porous and absorbent
  • Polypropylene – Durable synthetic plastic polymer that is non-toxic
  • Blend – Mixing the two creates a sturdy, porous filter medium

Why Coffee Filters Work for DIY Masks

There are several characteristics that make coffee filters a good choice for homemade protective masks:

  • Filtration – The tiny fibers are able to trap microdroplets and particles.
  • Breathability – The material allows for adequate air flow and breathability.
  • Moldability – The filters can be cut and shaped to create a fitted mask.
  • Affordability – Used coffee filters are free, and new filters are very inexpensive.

While not as effective as medical-grade masks, coffee filter masks provide a physical barrier to large respiratory droplets – which is the main transmission route for COVID-19.

How to Make a Coffee Filter Face Mask

Follow these simple steps to create your own coffee filter mask at home:

Supplies Needed

  • Clean coffee filters (new or used)
  • Rubber bands or hair ties
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Stapler (optional)

Cutting the Filters

  • For a fitted mask, trace mouth and nose on a coffee filter, cut out the shape.
  • For a pleated mask, cut a rectangular section about 7-8 inches wide and 5 inches tall.


  • For a fitted mask, place the filter shape over mouth and nose, secure edges with rubber bands/hair ties.
  • For a pleated mask, fold the rectangle into pleats and secure behind head.
  • Optional: Staple ends together for added durability.

Use Tips

  • Sanitize filters by ironing or heating before first use.
  • Replace filters regularly, discard used filters safely after one day’s use.
  • Supplement with filter material – can add a layer of paper towel for more filtration.

The Pros and Cons of Coffee Filter Masks

Coffee filter masks have both advantages and disadvantages:


  • Inexpensive and accessible
  • Provide basic particulate filtration
  • Disposable and replaceable
  • Can be customized for better fit


  • Limited protection compared to medical masks
  • Needs additional filter layers for better filtration
  • Not tightly fitted around the face
  • Can be delicate and prone to tearing

While coffee filter masks are not suitable for medical use, they can provide some protection in lower-risk everyday situations. They are best used in combination with other protective measures such as social distancing.

Other Creative Uses for Used Coffee Filters

If making masks is not of interest, used coffee filters still need not go to waste. Here are some other ways to reuse coffee filters around the home:

  • Cleaning dust from surfaces
  • Polishing mirrors and glass
  • Craft projects – dying, decorating, cutting into shapes
  • Funnel for filling containers
  • Straining small food particles like spices or juice pulp

With a little creativity, the humble coffee filter can prove to be a versatile item with many uses. Keep this in mind before throwing them away!

The Takeaway

While makeshift PPE should not replace medical-grade protection, reusing old coffee filters to create budget filter masks is an innovative way to provide basic protection during the supply shortages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their filtration properties, moldability, and accessibility make these a handy material for DIY masks at home. However, it is crucial to keep in mind their limitations compared to proper medical masks. Coffee filter masks are best paired with other precautionary measures against disease transmission.