Updated: May 21, 2020
EFFECTIVE HOMEMADE FACE MASKS AGAINST COVID-19
International fashion model, Journalist, TV Reporter and Social Media Influencer
People are struggling with being in lockdowns and isolated at home. Whilst in most countries, people are still allowed out for exercising, shopping and walking the dog. But now many governments are enforcing the wearing of masks in public into law. It is common sense that face masks have some function in slowing the spread of this horrendous and very contagious virus. A recent study has shown that someone who wears a decent mask that sneezes in a supermarket reduces the spread of the virus by over 80%. Someone who doesn’t wear a mask, that person’s sneeze could infect several square metres in front of them and even onto other aisles. So what do you do if you have no face mask as they are in terribly short supply in most countries.
Well, instead of watching TV, one way of being constructive is to make a face mask of your own. Most people will have some of the fabrics or materials listed below as well as something with elastic bands like underwear. First of all, N95 masks worn by the medical profession filters out at least 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. And that’s nearly how small this virus is. By comparison a typical surgical mask – made using a rectangular piece of pleated fabric – has a filtration efficiency ranging from 60 to 80 percent. But you could make a mask that is nearly if not even more efficient at filtering particles than a surgical mask. Yes, that is true using common fabrics that most of us have at home.
The two factors to take into account is the proficiency of stopping particles whilst still allowing for comfortable breathing. The one aspect common to all materials was that using several layers greatly increased the mask’s stopping power. A 600 thread count pillow case captured just 22% of particles when doubled, but four layers captured nearly 60%. If you have some fancy 800 or even 1,000 thread count pillow cases or bed linen, even better as a mask made out of such a high thread count fabric stopped well in excess of 60% of particles when made up of 4 layers.
For comparisons, a thick woolen yarn scarf filtered 21 percent of particles in two layers, and 48.8 percent in four layers. A 100 percent cotton bandanna did the worst, capturing only 18.2 percent when doubled, and just 19.5 percent in four layers. Coffee filters and vacuum bags when stacked in 3 layers filtered only between 40 to 50% but were still less breathable than the multi-stacked high thread count material. And here are the good news for all those quilters amongst you. Tests have shown that masks made from quilting fabrics were as good as surgical masks or even slightly better. It was noted that quilters tended to use higher quality high thread count fabrics. Multi-layered homemade masks made from high quality cotton provided between 70-79% filtration. On a note of caution, homemade masks using poor quality fabric tested as low as 1% efficiency.
So if you are struggling how to fill your time during lockdown and have no face mask, at least you know what you can do to stay safer when venturing out. Not only do you protect yourself but also everyone else around you if you wear a mask. And it is likely that it will be obligatory soon to wear a face mask in public. Several supermarkets and convenience stores have now enacted that people not wearing a face mask will be barred from entering. So start rummaging for those often rarely used sewing kits and some high quality cotton materials and stay safe.
Photo taken during CHANEL Paris Fashion Week