Washing Instructions for My Masks:
Masks can be machine washed, sanitized with alcohol, or boiled. I recommend washing masks in a washing machine on hot and drying in a dryer on hot. The wires will be bent, but you can straighten them out. If you want your mask to be unwrinkled, pull on the sides hard enough to stretch the fabric a bit and make all of the pleats line up nicely, and pull it out of the dryer as soon as it's dry. Quilting cotton and 100% cotton flannel both wrinkle easily.
Details About Mask Sanitation
Washing and drying clothes on hot, with detergent, kills almost all viruses and bacteria. Hot soapy water kills most viruses and bacteria. If you're immunocompromised or just concerned about the very tough bacteria, you can sanitize your masks in alcohol or boil them. 70% rubbing alcohol or 140 proof drinking alcohol will kill any pathogens. Put the mask in a small bowl, pour a tablespoon or two of alcohol into it, and squish the mask into the liquid to make sure that it's soaked all the way through. Wring it out, pull the sides fairly hard to reshape it, and lay it out to dry somewhere clean.
To boil, heat some water until it's boiling, then add your masks and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Keep the water boiling, but not as hot as a full rolling boil. You should be able to sterilize your masks in a pressure cooker or instant pot, but I haven't tried it. If you try it, I would like to hear how it worked. If it ruins one mask, I'll replace it. Please don't try it the first time with multiple masks.
If you don't mind fading colors, masks can be bleached. Copper is very slightly damaged by bleach, but not enough to matter. Fabric is also very slightly damaged by bleach. Bleached clothing won't last quite as long as clothing that doesn't get bleached. Bleaching directions from chlorox.
If you're interested to learn more about sterilizing cloth at home, you can look at this website. It's at home experiments by a biochemist. If you read it, please keep in mind that most bacteria are harmless, and viruses that are outside of a cell or in a dead cell die pretty fast.
I'm not making more masks right now. I'm leaving this information here for people who have already purchased one of my masks.
My masks are pleated rectangles. They have two layers of cotton, either quilting cotton or cotton flannel, with an opening in between them on the side so that you can put a third layer in between them. They use ties, not elastic, so that they can fit more head sizes. They have a copper wire at the top so that you can shape the top of the mask over your nose. They also have a curved vertical wire, which pushes the mask away from your nose and mouth, making it much easier to breathe.
Why I'm Using This Design:
I have a biology degree and two years of lab experience with molecular biology and sterile techniques. It's been useful for researching the various mask ideas that have been appearing all over the Internet.
I'm making masks with a pocket because adding a third layer inside allows people to have better filtration, if they want. Inserting a dust mask or N95 surgical mask actually makes it sightly easier to breathe, because it holds the mask slightly away from your nose and mouth. I'm going to test using a wire to hold the mask out a little bit, so if you have one with that modification, a dust mask won't improve it. Quilting cotton and cotton flannel have a tight, nonstretch weave, which catches more moisture droplets. Cotton can withstand more heat than polyester. Ties that attach at the sides seem like they would form a better seal than ties attached to the top and bottom, but I haven't tried attaching them the other way. I chose a pleated rectangle instead of shaping the masks with curved pieces and a seam down the middle because that's faster and easier to make and it uses fabric more efficiently. I'm using copper wire with loops at the end because I know how to make wire wrapped jewelry and I have the tools to cut and shape wire.