We have received many inquiries asking if heat transfer material can be used to decorate and personalize cloth face masks. The answer is yes. The more important answer is yes, with the right material that is safe and certified. In today’s blog post, we look at what materials are safe to use and  recommended placement of the material on the cloth mask.

What type of fabric to use for the facemask is crucial. Many common items found in your wardrobe and linen closet include 100% cotton scarves, bandanas, heavy-weight t-shirts and sheets, According to a statement from Scott Segal, M.D., chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist, who cited test results of materials used for DIY face masks by the Manufacturing Development Center at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, “the best-performing design was constructed of two layers of high-quality, heavyweight ‘quilter’s cotton’ with a thread count of 180 or more, and those with especially tight weave and thicker thread such as batiks. A double-layer mask with a simple cotton outer layer and an inner layer of flannel also performed well.” This recommendation is similar to the CDC’s recommendation to use “tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets,” although “T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch.”

The important information here is the face mask fabric is recommended to be tightly woven and not worn bare. If your favorite t-shirt has been laundered again and again, it is not the best choice for creating your cloth face mask. Remember, two layers of material are recommended. Start here for an easy how-to guide from the CDC to make your own face mask: DIY Face Coverings.

POLI-FLEX heat transfer vinyl (htv) is perfect for decorating face masks. The most important factor is the materials are certified safe for use on materials which come in contact with human skin. POLI-FLEX heat transfer materials are certified OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Class 1, the highest certification for materials which come in contact with human skin. This certification is CPSIA compliant. Now that we know it is safe, what about placement on the face mask?

Placement of htv decoration can be anywhere on the mask. We recommend not placing the decoration in the center, close to the mouth and nose areas, as the htv material will limit airflow. The only other areas not recommended for application are on or near seams or close to the elastic band used to secure the mask as the heat can melt the elastic.

Visit the POLI-TAPE USA website to see all the different colors and effects available to use to create your designs. TURBO FLEX is an excellent material to use for decorating face masks as the material is light weight, soft to the touch and has excellent wash resistance. Pearl Glitter is also an excellent choice to add some brilliance to your decoration. Pearl Glitter can be layered on top of TURBO. We recommend limiting the number of layers used to decorate a mask as each layer will add weight and density to the mask. Keep the decorations simple to ensure the mask does not sag under the weight of the decoration.

We would love to see what you create and how you personalize what has become a necessary, highly recommended article of clothing during these times. We encourage you to show your style, creativity and personalization by sharing photos of your masks on our POLI-TAPE USA Facebook and Instagram pages. Videos of the creative and application processes are also highly encouraged.

Please remember, while a wearing a face mask is recommended to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the most important steps you can take are to maintain proper social distancing and practice thorough handwashing. Be safe, be positive and be creative.