Face masks are becoming part of our everyday lives, but the information out there about them isn’t always consistent. When COVID-19 first reached the United States we were told repeatedly not to wear masks in public, but as the pandemic spread the recommendations changed. Now we are advised to wear a homemade face mask whenever we go out in public and to leave the medical face masks for the professionals. But what is the science behind face mask usage?
As it turns out, there isn’t a lot of research out there about the efficacy of homemade face masks. The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 hasn’t been around long enough to study specifically, and it’s particularly virulent nature makes it in a different class from viruses that have been studied before. We know that wearing masks and using hand sanitizer can reduce the spread of the flu by 50%, but since the invention of N95 respirators little research has been done on the efficacy of cloth masks.
Still, even a small reduction in the transmission of the novel coronavirus could have a big impact, which is why homemade masks are now being recommended. You can make them yourself at home. Bandanas are great to use if you aren’t particularly crafty, but even with basic sewing skills you can make a workable, washable, reusable cloth mask. If you can’t manage either of those options, ETSY is full of options from home sewers.
Different fabrics have different efficacy, and the tighter the weave the more effective it will be. You can also increase the efficacy of your face mask by adding layers of fabric to your design.
Be sure you are using your masks correctly – if they cause you to touch your face, you are increasing your risk instead of decreasing it.
Learn more about homemade cloth face masks from the infographic below.