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How to Print on a Cloth Face Mask

By ShirtSpace | Apr 09, 2020 |  Updated Oct 18, 2023

Face masks have become part of the new normal as the world currently battles the COVID-19 pandemic. And now with the recommendation from the CDC that everyone should wear a cloth mask out in public, they’ve become a necessity. The transition to face masks becoming a fashion accessory is only a natural progression from here. 

People will want face masks in a variety of colors and styles as well as decorated with their own logos and designs. But screen printing cloth face masks can be very tricky. Most cloth masks are stretchable and made from multiple layers of material, two qualities that are notoriously difficult to screen print. Add that face masks are, well, meant to be worn on your face, which means you’ll want to avoid chemicals like platen adhesive on the surface of the mask that your customers will wear against their faces. 

In this blog, we will discuss the best methods for printing on cloth face masks. 

Option 1: Modified Jacket Hold-Down Platen

Jacket hold-downs have been used in the screen printing industry for decades. Their name describes exactly what they’re used for, holding jackets in place while screen printed on. They consist of a platen and bracket that locks into place over the edges of the jacket. 

How you go about modifying a jacket hold-down might be a little tricky and will depend on which style of mask you print on. Some masks have a seam running down the center while others don’t. 

Luckily there’s a lot of innovation going on during the Coronavirus pandemic and it didn’t take long for a face mask specific platen to be invented. If you think you’ll be printing a lot of face masks it most certainly makes sense to invest in one

Ryonet Face Mask Platen Hold-down

Option 2: Heat Transfer Vinyl

Another way to decorate a face mask would be to use heat transfer vinyl. Heat transfer vinyl requires a vinyl cutter to cut your design and a heat press to activate the adhesive on the vinyl and adhere to your mask. This is a good option for basic designs.

Vinyl heat transfers work well for face masks because the heat press holds the mask in place while your decoration adheres to the mask. The heat transfer vinyl option would work best on masks that don’t have a seam or on the sides of masks that do. 

Rolls of Stahls heat transfer vinyl

Image Source

Option 3: Screen Printed Heat Transfers

Screen printed heat transfers would allow you to screen print your design without the need for a modified jacket hold-down or one of the new face mask platens. 

Screen printed heat transfers work similar to vinyl heat transfers but instead of cutting your design out of heat transfer vinyl, you screen print your design onto heat transfer paper and then heat press the design onto the face mask. 

One huge advantage of screen printed heat transfers is that you can print multiple designs on one sheet of heat transfer paper, reducing your cost to pennies per print. 

Screen Print Transfer Paper

If you’re not set up to screen print on heat transfer paper there are websites you can send your design to and they will mail you screen printed transfer paper with your design printed on it, Keep in mind, to print on masks using this method you’ll need a heat press and transfer adhesion powder. Here’s a how-to video

Ready To Print? 

As masks become more and more prevalent we have no doubt that the demand for customized face masks will be huge. With that growing demand will come increased innovation in the face mask screen printing industry, making it easier to print face masks successfully. Leave a comment below if you’ve tried printing on face masks yet and what your experiences have been. Be sure to shop for all your cloth face mask needs. We’ve even put together a handy comparison guide for easy shopping.


jasmine03/11/2022 11:19 am

Printing can let us achieve pretty much any kind of desired results that we might want.


jasmine02/17/2022 10:24 am

Thanks for the great Information blog! During summers, cotton face masks are considered the most comfortable and you can change their outer appearance with the help of mask printing. There are many websites who will be able to assist you in the process such as


ShirtSpace10/25/2022 07:48 pm

Hi Jasmine! Thank you for reading!


printlandokhla08/13/2021 10:57 am

Nice and informative article


ShirtSpace10/25/2022 07:49 pm

Hi! We are happy to hear you found our blog informative. Thanks for reading!


Tom02/13/2021 03:29 am

what other equipment is needed to print face masks and shirts


ShirtSpace08/17/2022 11:27 pm

Hi, Tom! Please see our response to your other question for an answer to this one as well :)


Tom02/12/2021 07:24 pm

How much is option number 3 and can it also print on shirts? Could this turn into a business?


ShirtSpace08/17/2022 11:26 pm

Hello, Tom. We are happy to answer both questions that you asked in the comments of our blog article titled “How to Print on a Cloth Face Mask”. To answer your question about how much it costs to use screen printed heat transfers to apply to face masks and shirts - it all depends on what kind of equipment you want to invest in and how involved you want to become in the hobby. You can cheaply buy the transfers but you also need to consider the ink, the heat press you use (these range from something you can buy at the craft store for a couple hundred dollars to professional heat presses that can cost thousands). We recommend starting small to hone in your craft and upgrade at a later date if you find that your projects are requiring something more heavy-duty. You can have the transfers printed for you on or other sites that provide this service. This would take some of the work out of the process, but may take longer and can add up if you are printing a lot of shirts. You could definitely turn this method of garment decoration into a business. Many of our customers started out on Instagram or Etsy and have seen great success selling their custom decorated apparel. We recently posted two blog posts on the topic of starting your own Etsy business that you might find useful if you decide to go this route: How to start your t-shirt etsy shop: How to brand your t-shirt etsy shop to attract more business: Other equipment you might need if you decide to start decorating apparel such as t-shirts and face masks depends on the method you decide to use. For heat transfer vinyl you will need the vinyl, cutting tools, perhaps a vinyl cutting machine such as a cricut, transfer paper and a heat press. You can buy cheap vinyl and use an iron but be careful and read reviews because not all products are created equally - you sometimes get what you pay for and you will end up with a finished project that either doesn’t look good from the get-go, or doesn’t last over time. For screen printing you will need much more such as squeegees, ink, additives, screens, a place to wash out the screen, and the right environment to dry the ink or a machine that can do this properly. There are some great starter screen printing kits that you can invest in for a few hundred dollars if you want to start using this method. We recommend checking these starter kits out: If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and best of luck with your new hobby!


Clothes Shopping Online07/24/2020 11:53 am

Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a completely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!


ShirtSpace10/25/2022 07:51 pm

Hi! Thanks for reading!


Eduardo Campos06/24/2020 06:34 am

Is there a non heat process?


ShirtSpace08/17/2022 11:03 pm

Hi, Eduardo. There certainly are decoration methods you can use for a cloth face mask that do not involve heat whatsoever. One way to deck out your face mask without using heat is embroidery. We have seen beautiful floral patterns, funny messages, and captivating patterns from embroiderers. Another way to customize your facial mask is by using fabric paint or by embellishing it with things like ribbon, beads, glitter, rhinestones, gems, etc. Depending on how flamboyant you go, some of these looks may not be for everyday wear. You can also hand paint a mask with your own design. Make it as detailed as you would like, or go for a classically simple or modern-art vibe. Lastly, you can also tie-dye a face mask, which is a fun way to make your mask special, but it can still be worn out and about in everyday life. We hope these ideas sparked some creative ideas in you. Please share with us what you come up with on social media or by sending your results to [email protected]


Ivy Baker06/24/2020 01:45 am

I want to get something that I could decorate some facemasks with. It is good to know that you will want to consider using heat transfer vinyl. I wonder if you could wash a mask with vinyl on it multiple times.


ShirtSpace08/17/2022 11:02 pm

Hi, Ivy. We’re glad you asked this question. If you are going to apply vinyl transfers to face masks, make sure the vinyl bonds really well with the fabric. Use enough heat and pressure to really seal the vinyl to the fabric. With that said, make sure to check the manufacturer instructions for the vinyl because using too much heat and pressure can have disastrous results as well- It’s a delicate game. When it comes to washing time, we suggest either handwashing in cool water with a mild, diluted soap. Or if you still want to machine wash, just make sure you try to abide by these best practices. Wash at cooler temperatures on the gentle cycle either alone, with other masks or with delicates. You want to avoid the edges of the vinyl peeling by rubbing against abrasive surfaces. Turning the vinyl side somewhat inside out will also help to protect the design. Use a mild detergent and air dry after if possible. If not possible to air dry, tumble dry on the lowest setting. The more careful you are when cleaning your mask, the longer the vinyl will stay looking fresh.


Susan Kramer05/26/2020 01:10 am

How can I print with out a printer at home what I need to make mask wholesale los angels Calif


Chrissy Glass04/15/2020 09:27 pm

I have made a few HTV mask and ppl are loving them and asking for more of them o planned to sell customized designs but now I’m making them to order like my shirts ahhh. It’s going great thus far


ShirtSpace10/25/2022 07:53 pm

Hi Chrissy! Thats so exciting to hear! Thanks for reading!


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