Your old cloth masks
August 11, 2022 3:02 PM   Subscribe

What are you doing with your cloths masks right now? Are you still hanging onto them?

You wore a cloth mask. You've since upgraded to a n95 or kn95 mask. But you've still got your cloth masks around. Maybe.

It feels wasteful to just throw them away the cloth masks I used for over a year, but I'm not sure what use they are at this stage of the pandemic. I still have two small drawers full of masks in my entry way and have been thinking it might be time to put something more useful in that real estate. Inertia and worries they could still be useful keep them there.

Is there a reason I should keep them for future use? Extra specific craft projects I could do with them? Does anyone still make paper out of cloth, and could these be used for that?
posted by ockmockbock to Grab Bag (38 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I threw most of mine away because of the trauma. I kept a couple because.. I don't know, a horrible memento, I guess.

I considered making them into a quilt or something, but a) I'm not crafty and b) see above re: trauma.

For the right kind of person it'd probably be healing to turn them into something more useful, especially if given away to someone who doesn't have the specific relation to those specific masks.
posted by curious nu at 3:24 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

Mine are all in a paper bag on a high shelf in a closet. Every now and then I come across another mask in a bag or drawer and add it to the bag.

Definitely a trauma thing. Maybe keeping them because I’m worried there will be a time when we truly cannot get kn95 again? Maybe I’m imagining I’ll be able to have a child and they’ll want to have a 2020 themed party in high school and I’ll have the bag of cloth masks?
posted by bilabial at 3:29 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]

Still sitting in the box near the door where they always were. I often stick one in my bag as a fallback because sometimes the elastic snaps off my FFP2s (the Euro equivalent of N95s) and fabric masks feel less likely to break that way so I like to have one as a reliable safety net.

Though I'm in the UK and in almost all situations I'm pretty much the only person still wearing any kind of mask these days. One of my friends literally posted on Insta today that he'd had to go to the doctor's and had been required to wear one and said (ironically) that he was feeling all nostalgic and I could hardly contain my eye-roll at the fact it had clearly been so long since he'd worn one.
posted by penguin pie at 3:38 PM on August 11 [13 favorites]

I wear them over my p100. It's a rather intense looking mask, and a cloth masks softens it somewhat, although you can definitely still tell I'm wearing a respirator under it. Last winter I wore them over n95s to keep my face warm.
posted by Bottlecap at 3:40 PM on August 11 [5 favorites]

If your masks are made of larger pieces and don't have a seam down the nose, you could potentially make these fabric stars . I've made the size in the tutorial and shrinking somewhat (e.g. down to 9 or 10 inches) would still work.
posted by esoterrica at 3:40 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

Gardening. They’re great for all the dust and sharp stuff the weedeater kicks up.
posted by mochapickle at 3:41 PM on August 11 [26 favorites]

I usually wear N95 masks with elastics that go around my head, but I keep a well-fitted cloth ear-loop mask for when I get my hair cut. I put a surgical-style mask on, then I put the cloth mask over it. For me, this is a better fit and more comfortable than a KN95 with ear-loops.
posted by dreamyshade at 3:43 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

Seems like if you cut the straps off they could make decent kitchen rags.
posted by dusty potato at 3:49 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

trash and good riddance, except for the hand made one that I sewed for my husband in those first terrible days when there were none to be bought. He treasures that one.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:52 PM on August 11 [9 favorites]

I kept a few of the ones that were most comfortable and sometimes wear them over my sturdier mask. The ones that were never a comfy fit or less cute prints or whatever, I offered on my local Buy Nothing group and several people immediately asked for them. They were gone within a day.
posted by Stacey at 3:56 PM on August 11

Kept them-- I walk and jog in the cold in the winter and a mask keeps me from developing a wheeze from dry air. But I don't want to waste a good mask on jogging alone outside, so cloth is the way to go. I unpicked the handmade ones to reuse the fabric, probably for quilting.

Also, I have one in my bag as an emergency backup for situations where my real mask breaks, on the theory that cloth is better than nothing.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:57 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]

I'm probably going to keep wearing mine for a long long time because I haven't had a man tell me to smile in 882 days.
posted by phunniemee at 4:00 PM on August 11 [111 favorites]

I can say they are nice to wear while biking whenever the weather dips below 60.
posted by kensington314 at 4:04 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

I've kept my fabric masks for when I'm cleaning around the house. I have a dust allergy and cleaning with a fabric mask on is a lot less miserable.
posted by sailoreagle at 4:12 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]

They are good for dusty dirty household chores. Sweeping out the garage or basement, demolition work, etc.
posted by nothing.especially.clever at 4:14 PM on August 11 [7 favorites]

I still use them as a top layer to dress up my boring K/N95's and match an outfit, though at this point it's too hot even for me to do that level of layering. Or for wearing to the hairdresser as mentioned above.

I dunno, I probably wouldn't throw them out in case for some reason I have no 95's around any more.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:17 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

Finagled with the elastics a little and repurposed some as figure skate soakers for my spare skates.

Which is really full circle, because back when it was impossible to even buy elastic to make masks, I considered disassembling my skate soakers to repurpose the elastic in them.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:06 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

I am going to use my cloth masks in place of scarves this winter. They keep my face warm without the bulk.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 5:11 PM on August 11 [10 favorites]

I double mask and have the fabric one as the outer layer so it coordinates with my outfit.

I've also begun wearing them when I dust or go somewhere I know is going to be somewhat smelly.
posted by The Adventure Begins at 5:20 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]

Mine are in a box waiting to be turned into a quilt, along with the scraps from the bazillion masks I made and gave away. We don't wear them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:24 PM on August 11

Mine are in a bin on the shelf in my coat closet. I’ve thought about throwing them out but I haven’t. Maybe I’m thinking there may come a time when I can’t get N95s anymore…
posted by bookmammal at 5:24 PM on August 11

Tossed in the trash.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:29 PM on August 11

Mine are in a gallon Ziploc in my closet. The only non covid use I’ve found so far is wearing them on dusty mountain trails in the summer - learned accidentally during 2020 that they keep the dust out of your mouth!
posted by centrifugal at 5:36 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

I got cute cloth masks to match my clothing, so I sometimes wear them over boring N95s to look more friendly / fun at work.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:49 PM on August 11 [9 favorites]

My local thrift shop sells them, and I have found that I breathe easier in N-95s because they don't cling to my face in the same way as cloth.

So they went to the thrift store.
posted by aniola at 5:53 PM on August 11

trash and good riddance, except for the hand made one that I sewed for my husband in those first terrible days when there were none to be bought. He treasures that one.

I'm discarding them as I find them, except for the one a friend made for me right at the beginning, which meant a lot to me.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:04 PM on August 11

My husband and I go on regular bike rides by the river at dusk and he's made a habit of bringing a cloth mask to keep the bugs out of his mouth. I don't mind the extra protein but I do wear them over my real mask for fashion reasons like others.

I also have tried my best to remember to wear one when I change the cat litter and when I forget to wear it I am very sad.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:02 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

I wear mine for cleaning out the litter box and other smelly household chores.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:12 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

I have some gourds and melons growing on an old chain link baseball backstop. I figure I can use the masks as cradles once the fruit gets big. Otherwise, they're going in a bag in a closet, hopefully never to be needed again.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:25 PM on August 11 [7 favorites]

I carry mine with me on the rare occasions when I leave the house because I feel weird not wearing one.
posted by bendy at 11:27 PM on August 11

Totally still using cloth masks. They might not be helping much with Covid at this point, but they've been doing a dandy job these last 2.5 years of keeping me from catching everything else that goes around like I normally would.
posted by stormyteal at 11:37 PM on August 11 [5 favorites]

I wear mine as mask covers over an FFP2 now - it's an extra layer of protection and also I'd just rather wear a mask with a pirate flag than a plain white one if I've got to wear one!
posted by BlueNorther at 12:52 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

I just a week or two ago finally moved them from a Command hook next to my door to a bag in the closet. Right before making the switch to KN95s, I had just bought 15 new quality ones thinking that this was going to last a lot longer. Oops. Maybe I'm just waiting for the next one which will be a flu and actually does spread through droplets, and the respirators will once again be sold out again. Or I just can't throw away ~$100 of unused (and, if I'm honest, handsome) masks. I also have several useless ones that were hand-made by friends and family that I'll probably hold onto forever just because.
posted by General Malaise at 5:27 AM on August 12

I have kn95s now that I wear for going out, but my cloth masks are great when I am doing dusty things (cutting wood, cleaning, etc) from keeping the larger particulates from making my sinuses crazy.
posted by acanthous at 6:26 AM on August 12

Seems like if you cut the straps off they could make decent kitchen rags.

Coasters, too.
posted by JanetLand at 6:31 AM on August 12

I never stopped wearing mine. Three cloth layers + an inner pocket that I line with either a sheet of MERV-16 filter material, or HEPA material. The disposable masks always seemed so wasteful to me (and it grates on me seeing them as litter everywhere) and I never could get quite as good a fit from them as by sewing my own.
posted by xedrik at 7:32 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

My friend uses hers as little hammocks to support her ripening tomatoes in the garden.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:48 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]

Keeping them. When younger folks go through my belongings they will say huh, those must have been for the pandemic, what an interesting historical tidbit, just as when I went through a friend's attic and saw some WWII blackout paper rolls and had similar thoughts.
posted by Melismata at 1:06 PM on August 12 [5 favorites]

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