When Should I Wear A Cloth Mask?
While most states are encouraging residents to shelter-in-home, the truth is that you may not always be able to stay indoors. Remaining in your house and distancing yourself from other people is the best way to reduce the coronavirus spread.
If you do have into a public area, then you should practice social distancing. These guidelines call for people to stay six feet away from other people, as an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
However, you may not be able to maintain six feet distance from other people in certain environments like grocery stores and pharmacies. In these situations, the CDC recommends you wear some form of facial fabric covering your face. In fact, if worse comes to worst, the CDC encourages people to wear a bandana as a last resort.
What Are The Best Filters For My Cloth Face Mask?
While simple face masks are recommended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, health experts all agree that different mask variations are needed for wearers to reduce the number of incoming germs.
The main variables that influence the number of incoming germs and protect the wearer are the fit of the mask, along with the type and quality of materials used to make the mask and filtration system.
Before jumping into different types of materials for your filter, it’s essential to know how you can test the quality of content for filters. If you are able to see through the material when holding it up to bright light, then the material is too thin to effectively capture particles. You should not be able to see the light through the content, and the denser the weave and thickness of the material mean, the better it will filter viruses and other contaminants from breathing in.
1. HEPA Filters & Furnace Filters
You can use traditional HEPA furnace filters in your cloth masks, and these tend to do the best job filtering out viruses and bacteria. This is because the HEPA filters were designed to be used in home HVAC systems, so cutting them down and fitting them in a reusable face mask is one of the best types of filters that you can add to your cloth mask.
HEPA filters have been shown to be the most effective filtration system for a cloth mask. This material was tested to capture 89-94% of contaminants. A furnace filter has been shown to capture 75% with two layers, and its effectiveness improved with additional layers.
Be aware that HEPA filters and standard furnace filters can shed small fibers that you could inhale. If you use this material for your cloth mask filter, then you should sandwich the filter between two cotton sheets.
2. Thick Fabric or Flannel
If you don’t want to cut down a HEPA HVAC filter, then you can also use a thick sheet of fabric from thick pillowcases. The heavier, the better, so you could add a layer of 600-count pillowcases or flannel pajamas into your cloth mask. This extra layer will make it difficult to breathe, but the additional layer of fabric should help capture more contaminants.
The trade-off with flannel material is that while it is an active filter, it can make breathing difficult. You should choose the type of material for your filters based on the activity you will perform and how many people you think will be in the public area that you are visiting.
3. Coffee Filters
Another way to improve the filtration system of your cloth mask is to add a coffee filter. Doubling the coffee filter is a great way to capture particles, and coffee filters are cheap and readily available.
If you choose a coffee filter for your cloth mask, then you should double or even triple the number of filters inserted into your mask. This is because you want to have as many layers as possible to increase the number of contaminants the filter captures.
4. Blue Shop Towels
Finally, new research shows that blue shop towels are another tremendous low-cost filter for cloth face masks. Blue shop towels are relatively inexpensive, and their thick construction and tight-knit make them the perfect addition to a reusable cloth mask.
Test how many layers you can add to your mask before it becomes difficult to breathe. Shop towels are very dense, and you can pick them up at any home improvement store. Their density could make it hard to breathe easily.
Improve The Effectiveness Of Your Cloth Masks
The best thing that you can do to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus is to stay in your how and away from other people. However, you may find yourself having to venture out into public areas where social distancing is not guaranteed.
In these situations, you should wear a maks to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the chances that you will contract COVID-19.
Be sure to choose the best material for your mask’s filter. There is always a balance between the effectiveness of the screen and your ability to breathe easily. If you are at higher risk, then you need to use a thicker material like a furnace filter or HEPA filter.
Either way, be sure to do your research and ensure that your face mask fits snug around your face. An excellent mask filter will improve your ability to keep you and your family safe this season!