While many consumers are looking to protect themselves from germs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have warned about the shortage of such protective gear for medical professionals.
Now, researchers at the American Chemical Society found that consumers can make their own face masks at home by using two popular household items: cotton and either natural silk or chiffon.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of masks made out of different materials to determine what would best protect consumers from the threat of infection.
They explained that aerosols are the biggest threat to homemade masks, as they are the tiniest kind of respiratory droplets and can sneak through certain fabrics. This is why it’s important that consumers know which fabrics to use and which ones to avoid when making at-home masks.
The researchers put fabrics to the test and mimicked the human respiratory system by having a fan blow aerosols into different kinds of homemade masks.
Their study ultimately revealed that consumers can protect themselves with about the same level of effectiveness of an N95 mask by crafting their own mask out of two popular household items: cotton and chiffon or silk. While cotton can be found in anything from t-shirts to bed sheets, consumers can find chiffon in formal gowns or scarves.
These materials have unique properties that can repel aerosols the majority of the time. The researchers found that masks made with a combination of these materials can protect consumers from 80 to 99 percent of all particles.
Make sure the mask fits
The most important part of at-home masks is the fit. Despite these positive findings, the researchers say that masks made from the right materials won’t effectively block germs if they aren’t properly fitted to consumers’ faces
While making masks at home can protect consumers and also ensure that medical-grade masks are reserved for healthcare workers, fashioning them properly is key. All masks should be tightly secured to consumers’ faces to guarantee optimal protection.