Answer:

If made with the right household materials, you can create a mask that may be as effective as a medical mask and, in some ways, similar in blocking efficiency to an N-95 respirator (although not a replacement for an N-95), according to several laboratory studies. Masks can be used alone or, for increased protection, particularly for the eyes, with a face shield.

Below we discuss the details of masks and how to make them. We also identify what seem to be best disposable filter materials.

If you would prefer to buy a mask, we have identified several brands that appear to meet the specifications of the World Health Organization (see Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy).

Why you should wear a mask -- and why it should be an efficient one

Along with social distancing, a mask provides additional protection from infecting others as well as preventing exposure. A review of studies found that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and related coronaviruses was 82% lower with physical distancing of 1 meter (3.3 feet) or more, compared with shorter distances, and protection might increase with additional distance. Face mask use could result in an 85% reduction in risk of infection versus no face mask, with stronger associations for N-95 or similar respirators, while surgical masks and multi-layered cotton masks were less effective but offered more protection than single-layer masks (Chu, Lancet 2020).

An analysis of rates of growth of COVID-19 infection in U.S. states found that the mandated use of masks in public issued by 15 states in April and May, 2020 was associated with a decline of about 1% in the daily COVID-19 growth rate within the first week of the mandates and a 2% decline 21+ days after mandates were issued. Although the effect is modest, the researchers estimated that by May 22, 2020, 230,000 to 450,000 COVID-19 cases may have been averted due to the mandates (Lyu, Health Aff 2020).

As wearing a mask may reduce the amount of virus to which a wearer is exposed, it has been postulated that even if a mask-wearing person becomes infected, the reduced viral load to which they were exposed may mean that they suffer a milder disease. Supporting this theory is a study that showed that hamsters protected with a surgical mask partition were less likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 than those without the partition, and those that did get sick had milder illness. In addition, on cruise ships with COVID-19 outbreaks, the majority of infected patients (81%) were asymptomatic on a ship that had provided masks to all passengers and staff compared to only 18% of cases being asymptomatic on a cruise ship without masking (Gandhi, J Gen Intern Med 2020; Gandhi, N Engl J Med 2020).

Any benefit to wearing masks at home?

Although CDC guidelines do not currently include the use of face masks at home, the rate of transmission from one household family member to another was 79% lower when members wore face masks prior to the first member developing COVID-19 symptoms, according to a study of 124 families in Beijing in which there was at least one infected person. Overall, there was a 23% rate of transmission of COVID-19 from an infected family member to another, but this was no lower when mask wearing began after the first member developed symptoms. These results are consistent with the fact that viral load is highest two days before symptoms and on the first day of symptoms. Daily use of disinfectants reduced transmission by 77%. Transmission rates were four times higher if the primary case had diarrhea and 18 times higher when there was frequent daily close contact (less than 3 feet apart). The researchers recommended use of face masks in families in which a member has been at risk of getting infected. In China, over 70% of transmission occurred within families (Wang, BMJ Global Health 2020).

Best combination of materials for making a mask

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using three layers of fabric for non-medical, cloth masks in order to achieve the best combination of filtration efficacy and breathability:

1. Innermost layer: Hydrophilic material (i.e., one that can absorb moisture, such as cotton or cotton blends)

2. Middle layer: Hydrophobic material (i.e., repels moisture) of synthetic non-woven material such as polypropylene or a second cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets.

3. Outermost layer: Hydrophobic material (e.g., polypropylene, polyester, or their blends) which may limit external contamination from penetration through to the wearer's nose and mouth.

(See Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy for our review of masks for sale that appear to meet the WHO requirements)

Note that polypropylene, a material often used to make disposable surgical masks, has an electrostatic charge which can improve the filtration efficiency of masks. Polypropylene "spunbound" is sold in fabric and many other retail and online stores under brand names such as Oly*fun and Pellon. Polypropylene is sold in different weights (measured in grams per square meter or GSM). Most commercially manufactured surgical masks are made of 3-ply 25GSM. Polypropylene materials between 25 and 40 GSM tend to have similar filtration efficacy and breathability, while polypropylene 60 GSM has a higher filtration efficiency but less breathability (Zhao, Nano Lett 2020). Be aware that some forms of polypropylene should not be machine washed.

See below for a more detailed discussion of the filtration efficacy of various cotton and synthetic household fabrics.

How cotton and other household fabrics compare in blocking coronavirus

The first study, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that many household fabrics can be as effective as the material in surgical masks for blocking droplets of sizes known to carry the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) coronavirus. The blocking efficiency of a commercial medical mask was found to be 96.3%, while the blocking efficiency of a used dish cloth (85% polyester and 15% nylon) was slightly better -- 97.9%. In addition, most household fabrics were more breathable than the material in a medical mask. The dish cloth, for example, was twice as breathable as the medical mask (Aydin, medRxiv 2020 --preprint). (See the CDC website to learn how to make a cloth face covering.)

A study at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory found that tightly woven, high-thread count cotton (600 thread-per-inch (TPI) sheet by Wamsutta) was more effective in filtering large droplets (similar to larger-sized SARS-CoV-2 droplets) than loosely woven cotton with a lower thread count (quilters cotton, 80 TPI), while fabrics with an electrostatic charge (such as silk and chiffon) were best for blocking aerosols -- the smaller sized droplets that remain suspended in air for extended amounts of time. Using layers of both fabrics, together, was most effective for blocking both large and small droplets. For example, two layers of 600 TPI cotton fabric had a large particle and small particle blocking efficacy of 99.5% and 82%, respectively, but one layer of 600 TPI cotton combined with two layers of chiffon (90% polyester, 10% spandex from Jo-Ann Stores) had a large particle and small particle blocking efficacy of 99.2% and 97% -- which, at low airflow rates (i.e., when not all air is drawn through the mask) is nearly as good as a properly-fitted N95 mask for blocking large particles and better than the N-95 with respect to small particles, of which only 85% are blocked by an N-95 mask). However, as emphasized in a published correction to the study, it is not known how efficient this fabric combination will be at normal or high rates of airflow when made into a fitted mask, i.e., when there are no leaks and all air flows directly through the mask, particularly when one is engaged in high levels of exertion. The researchers also found that small holes or leaks around the edges of the fabrics could decrease the blocking efficacy by 50% or more, and emphasized the importance of a good fit (snug and without gaps) (Konda, ACS Nano 2020). [Note: An illustration in the study shows the electrostatic layer of fabric as the inner layer when fabrics were combined. However, ConsumerLab contacted the author of the study who suggested that electrostatic fabric (such as chiffon) may be best used as the outer layer of the mask to avoid humidity from the nose or mouth, which could interfere with the electrostatic properties, but emphasized that was his suggestion, not something that was tested in the study.]

In another study, researchers at Florida Atlantic University tested masks made from common household fabrics, as well a typical "cone" mask (often sold at pharmacies) to see how well they worked to stop droplets using a simulated model of coughing (a mannequin head through which liquid was manually pumped). Without any covering, droplets from the simulated cough traveled an average of 8 feet. With a bandana (single-layer, elastic T-shirt material, 85 threads per inch) droplets traveled an average of 3 ft. 7 inches, with a folded cotton handkerchief (as shown in this instructional video featuring the U.S. Surgeon General), 1 ft. 3 inches, and with a cone mask (CVS Cone Face Mask), 8 inches. The most effective mask was a stitched cotton mask (using two-layers of cotton quilting fabric, 70 threads per inch), with which droplets traveled just 2.5 inches. The researchers noted that "healthcare professionals trained properly in the use of high-quality fitted masks will not experience leakage to the extent that we have observed in this study. However, leakage remains a likely issue for members of the general public who often rely on loose-fitting homemade masks." (Verma, Phys Fluids 2020).

Rather than focus on how far droplets travel, researchers at Duke looked at how well different masks block droplets during speaking. A fitted N95 mask without a valve was most effective in retaining droplets, with less than 1% of droplets being transmitted. The next most effective, in order, were a 3-layer surgical mask, a cotton-polypropylene-cotton "apron" mask, a 2-layer polypropylene mask, a 2-layer cotton pleated mask, and then an N95 with a valve.

The Duke researchers also found that two masks offered little protection: A double-layer bandana was only slightly more effective than using no face covering at all, while the worst face covering was a "gaiter" style neck fleece (often worn during running or sports) that showed a 10% increase in the number of droplets. The researchers suggested that the neck fleece material breaks larger liquid droplets into smaller droplets than can more easily be dispersed into the air (Fischer, Sci Adv 2020 — includes photos of the masks but no details about origin or brands). However, tests conducted by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute found that, when measuring droplets that dispersed in an outward direction at a distance of about 1 ft. (30 cm), neck gaiters (one made of thin, 100% polyester (Chaos) and the other, a thicker, microfiber gaiter made of 87% polyester and 13% elastane (Cirque)) worked as well as a cloth mask (a no-sew mask made of cotton T-shirt material), blocking 100% of larger droplets (> 20 microns), 90% of droplets 5 microns in size, and 50% of 0.5 micron aerosols. They were somewhat less efficient than the cloth mask at blocking smaller aerosols, although when the thinner gaiter was doubled over, it blocked about 90% of droplets and aerosols (0.5 to 5 microns) (Pan, Virginia Tech PDF 2020).

Best Materials for Making Your Own Mask Filter

As discussed above, the WHO recommends that the middle layer of a cloth mask be made of a synthetic, nonwoven fabric such as polypropylene, or a second layer of cotton (high thread count cotton has been shown to have better filtration efficacy than lower-thread cotton). Many cloth masks that you can buy online come with a "filter pocket" as the middle layer, which you can buy pre-made filters for, or add your own. We've reviewed common materials for making mask filters, including Filti Face Mask Material and Medline Dry Baby Wipes, as well as materials such as polypropylene and other non woven fabrics (100% polypropylene, Pellon Sew-In Interfacing and Oly*fun), cotton and quilter's cotton. Sign in as a member or join now to see our reviews and more details about materials for making your own mask filters.

Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy

If you prefer to purchase a cloth mask, we reviewed many masks sold online. We identified several masks that we believe best meet the WHO guidelines and/or are constructed with materials that offer a good combination of filtration efficacy and breathability. We also considered features that can affect fit and comfort, such as adjustable/bendable nose wires and adjustable straps, which can be important for people who wear glasses or hearing aids. We also identified a mask to accommodate beards and use when singing. We also identified two masks with clear panels to better enable lip reading by others.

Our list starts with our overall Top Pick, followed by our next favorites, as well as masks for those who need clear panels. In our review of masks, we considered those from Allet, Atelier, Giftington, Proper Cloth, Rafi Nova, Tom Bihn, Vertex, Vida, Vistaprint, and masks sold on Etsy.

Be aware that there is a shipping fee for most masks, calculated before check out based on location and/or other factors. Most companies provide an estimated time for the product to ship, but delivery time will depend on the shipping option you choose. ConsumerLab.com derives no revenue from sales of these products.

(To see our list of the best cloth masks you can buy, sign in. If you are not a ConsumerLab member, join now.)

How to reduce air leakage around a mask

A way to reduce air leaks was suggested by a study, at Northeastern University in Boston, which showed that pulling an 8 to 10-inch tube of nylon (cut from a queen-sized nylon stocking) down over a regular mask and to the top of the neck. This significantly prevented air leakage around the mask and improved particle filtration efficiency, making the combined masking nearly as effective as an N-95 respirator which, unlike a medical mask, has an electrostatic charge and is specifically designed to prevent air leakage (Mueller, medRxiv 2020 --preprint; Godoy, NPR.org 4/22/20).

How to clean a cloth mask

Cloth masks can be washed in a washing machine. They can also be cleaned using heat, but a washing machine is preferred.

Potential carbon dioxide buildup

If you make a well-fitted mask with high blocking efficiency, it may share the same potential that N95 masks have to reduce oxygen intake and, over time cause carbon dioxide buildup inside the mask (Sinkule, Ann Occup Hyg 2013). According to researchers at Stanford University, N95 masks are "are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. That's significant, even for a healthy person. It can cause dizziness and lightheadedness." However, a small study in the U.S. found that wearing an N-95 mask for up to one hour did not cause any significant adverse effects in healthy healthcare workers performing moderate activities, despite significantly decreased inhaled oxygen and increased inhaled carbon dioxide levels (Roberge, Respir Care 2010). A representative from the CDC told Reuters.com that "...the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache but you most likely [would] not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2. The mask can become uncomfortable for a variety of reasons including a sensitivity to CO2 and the person will be motivated to remove the mask. It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia [elevated blood levels of carbon dioxide]."

The CDC advises that face masks should not be placed on children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who would not be able to remove the mask without assistance.

N-95 vs. KN-95, KF94 and other respirators

Be aware that masks labeled as "KN-95" are not N-95 respirators and their filtration may not match that of N-95 masks. KN-95 masks may also not have a proper fit to prevent air leakage and typically have "ear loops" rather than the head bands used on N-95 respirators. The CDC has published its own tests of many of KN-95 and related masks, by brand, showing filtration levels as low as 13.6% to over 99%; however air leakage around the masks was not tested, so a KN-95 mask filtering 99% may be inferior to an N-95 respirator that provides a proper fit even though its filtration efficiency need not be greater than 95%). 

The CDC also publishes a list of approved N-95 respirators, and the FDA has published a list of authorized N-95 respirators from China that have not gone through the CDC (NIOSH) approval process but were approved in China. Note that 1) some products that had been on this list were later removed on May 7, 2020 after being tested by the CDC (NIOSH) and 2) these respirators lose their authorization if they have been decontaminated for reuse (apparently because they may contain cellulose, which may not be able to withstand authorized decontamination processes) (FDA announcement 6/6/20).

A study at the University of California, San Francisco found that after extended periods of use, a much higher percentage of health care workers using duckbill-shaped N-95 masks (made by Kimberly-Clark and Halyard) failed a "fit test" than those using dome-shaped N-95 masks (made by 3M): Failure rate was 70.6% with duckbill masks versus 27.5% with dome-shaped masks. A fit test is performed by having an individual indicate if they can detect a bitter taste introduced by a chemical in the air (Degesys, JAMA Letters 2020).

A comparison of hospital facemasks showed that procedural and surgical masks had much lower filtration efficacies, from 27% to 69%, than most commonly used N95 respirators which, even after decontamination and re-use, provided 95% efficacy or better. Two masks that were not NIOSH-approved but were authorized for use by the CDC (DTC-3X-1 and DTC-3X-2 from Dasheng) had, respectively, only 77% and 80% efficacy, and a KN95 mask (Guangdong Fei Fan KN95) had just 53% efficacy. Variability in mask performance was dependent on the tightness of the contact between the material and the facial skin and masks that tied around the head outperformed those with elastic ear loops, noting that "ear loops may not provide adequate tension to maintain a tight fit during a typical range of motions" (Sickbert-Bennett, JAMA Intern Med 2020).

According to the United States Department of Labor, healthcare workers who are unable to obtain N95 respirators may use R95, R99, P95, P99, P100 and others respirators. Like N95 masks, these are expected to filter out a minimum of 95% of particles of the most penetrating size, and those ending in a "99" or "100" filter out at least 99% or 99.97%, respectively, of such particles but can be more difficult to breathe through. R95 and P95 masks are typically used for protection when working with oil-based substances like fuel, paints, solvents, or pesticides. N95s are not resistant to oil, R95s are "somewhat resistant" and P95s are "strongly resistant to oil or oil proof," as shown in the CDC's infographic about these types of masks. If considering an alternative respirator, make sure it is NIOSH approved. Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used when trying to protect others. (See a video demonstration by researchers at Florida Atlantic University of how aerosols can spread when coughing while wearing an N95 mask with a valve).

KF94 respirators from Korea are often promoted as the Korean "equivalent" to N95 respirators, but this is not quite accurate. Although they can have relatively high filtration efficacy, KF94 masks are considered "public use" respirators and are not held to the same performance standards as Korea's Special 1st class "occupational use" respirators (which are considered to be roughly equivalent to NIOSH approved N95 masks). KF94 respirators are designed to have a filtration efficacy of 94%, and CDC tests of one brand of KF94 found its filtration efficacy to be even higher (99.85 to 99.94%). However, unlike all NIOSH-approved N95s (which attach with head bands), KF94 respirators attach with ear loops, which, the CDC points out, may compromise their fit and efficacy. The CDC did not perform fit testing on the KF94s it tested and noted a lack of information about manufacturing quality control. In addition, unlike surgical N95 respirators, KF94 respirators are not considered fluid resistant (Kim, J Korean Med Sci 2020).

Are copper masks better?

Copper has been shown to inactivate a wide variety of bacteria and some viruses, typically within minutes to hours of contact, and a study found that SARS-CoV-2 (at about 72°F and 40% relative humidity) was undetectable on copper after four hours (van Dormalen, NEJM (correspondence) 2020). There do not appear to be studies showing how effective masks made with copper or copper infused fabric are against SARS-Cov-2. However, preliminary research with other viruses suggests a possible benefit. A study funded by the maker of copper masks (Cupron) for healthcare and institutional use, showed that an N95 mask with two added layers of copper oxide infused material (polypropylene fabric containing 2.2% weight/weight copper particles) had a similar filtering efficacy as a regular N95 mask, but was much more effective in inactivating human influenza A virus (H1N1) and avian influenza virus (H9N2) (Barkow, PLoS One 2010). A University of Massachusetts Amherst microbiologist developed a reusable mask made of 99.95% pure copper mesh, which, according to a university news release, was shown to "kill 90% of microbes within five minutes of contact." In Hong Kong, the government is distributing fabric masks to the public that contain copper, known as the CuMask+ (Parry, BMJ 2020). According to the manufacturer, CuMask+ is made up six layers, "two of which are specially made with small quantities of copper." Tests published by the company suggest it retains antiviral activity with up to 60 washes (handwashed with soap and cold water). If you use a copper-containing mask, be sure to clean it regularly and according to the product instructions: Bacteria and viruses can cling to dirt or other particles on copper, making it less effective (Grass, Appl Environ Microbiol 2011).

Some concerns have been raised about the safety of copper masks and the possibility of breathing in copper particles. While we don't have safety information for specific products, laboratory studies that measured the amount of copper released from copper oxide impregnated masks during 5 hours under simulated breathing conditions was far below the respiratory copper permissible exposure limit (PEL) set by the USA Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") (Borkow, Curr Chem Biol 2012).

What masks protect against wildfire smoke?

Cloth masks, including those with sewn-in or removable filters, should not be relied on for protection from wildfire smoke, according to the CDC. They protect against some of the larger particles in wildfire smoke, but not from smaller particles in smoke that can damage the lungs. In addition, one-strap paper dust masks and surgical masks, worn alone, are not recommended for wildfire smoke protection.

It is recommended that people who have to be outdoors in wildfire affected areas wear fit-tested, NIOSH-approved N95 or P100 respirators, and the CDC notes that properly fitted N95 respirators can "provide protection from wildfire smoke and from COVID-19 for the individuals wearing them." To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others, N95 masks without valves are recommended. If an N95 mask with a valve is your only option for wildfire smoke protection, consider covering the valve with tape or wearing a surgical mask over the N95 when around others, as recommended by John Balms, M.D. at UCSF.

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100 Comments

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John20893
September 7, 2020

What masks are there that don't fog up glasses? the ones I have tried all cause one to make a choice between breathing or seeing.

ConsumerLab.com
September 8, 2020

One of the best ways to prevent glasses from fogging is to ensure a snug fit on the face. Masks with nose wires can help with this, and we've noted in our reviews which masks have nose wires. The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides additional tips to help prevent glasses from fogging when wearing a mask, including using medical tape to help seal the gap between the top of your mask and your nose, positioning your glasses on top of the fabric of your mask, and using anti-fogging solution (see https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/face-mask-foggy-glasses-coronavirus-covid).

S A20892
September 7, 2020

I am very pleased with this article and will use it as the basis for a mask purchase. A problem I have with my current mask is that my glasses fog-up, making it difficult to shop, say, in a grocery store. Did you evaluate this issue at all or gain any relevant experience?

ConsumerLab.com
September 9, 2020

In general, one of the best ways to prevent glasses from fogging is to ensure a snug fit along the top of the face (across the cheek and bridge of the nose). Masks with nose wires can help with this, and we note in our reviews which masks have nose wires. However, we did mention in our review of one mask that some people have reported having trouble with glasses fogging despite the mask having a nose wire.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides additional tips to help prevent glasses from fogging when wearing a mask, including using medical tape to help seal the gap between the top of your mask and your nose, positioning your glasses on top of the fabric of your mask, and using anti-fogging solution (see https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/face-mask-foggy-glasses-coronavirus-covid).

Shelly20863
September 3, 2020

Could you please evaluate the kitsbow hepa mask. It fits as well as my N95, I am curious if it meets WHO standards

Mary20854
September 2, 2020

I have tried two of these masks: the Vida mask and the Vista mask. Update: The Vida now comes in 3 sizes, but their standard size is the best for me. The Vista is smaller and not as "tall". My main question: Vida suggests you can take out the filter and reuse it in a freshly laundered mask for 7 days. Wouldn't you risk contaminating it in the removal? And, since it's supposedly catching particles, wouldn't some contamination get through to the outside of it? Then you'd probably want to remember which side you had facing out, no? I plan to ask them this question. The filter is dense and does feel like better protection than a regular cloth mask or even a thinner filter. I wouldn't go jogging in it, however!

Carole20899
September 9, 2020

You can buy a package of filters online. I change mine when I start using a new mask.

Lisa20852
September 1, 2020

I just tried the Vida masks. They fit fine - although one still had material which went into my mouth at times. The issue I am having is that the little rubber tube which allows you to adjust the ear loops is flimsy and split in half after the first wearing. Vida did enclose two additional ones - which is great - but I fear that those will meet the same early fate. My glasses did not fog as much as with the Vistaprint ones. You also have to insert the filter from one side only - which is a pain. I am still on the hunt for a good mask (which meets WHO guidelines) with adjustable ear loops which will not fog my glasses. I have no financial interest in any mask product.

Sarah20836
August 31, 2020

Consumerlab, been a subscriber for many years and reference your reviews often. Thank you for your dedication us consumers!! Do you have any information on or experience with Outdoor Research masks and filters? Also, would you consider reviewing a variety of the optional filters sold by companies such as Gliftington, etc? Thanks again!

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We have not reviewed Outdoor Research masks but we will keep your suggestion in mind.

John20830
August 30, 2020

Thanks for all your work on evaluating these masks. Please consider reviewing the Tommie Copper masks. I just purchased two (2) packs for us, and so far we like a lot about them. They fit well, have nice multi layered fabric, which is infused with copper and zinc. We think these could be a great find, and the price is considerably more reasonable than many of the masks in your reviews. This is starting to sound like a commercial, and I apologize if it comes across that way. I am not affiliated in any way with the manufacturer and have no other interest than to help our community seek out and evaluate the best products. TY
Be safe all,
JP

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

Thank you for sharing your experience with this mask. Unfortunately, it's not clear from the website how many layers of fabric the mask is made of, or what type of fabric is used. The mask does have a nose wire and adjustable straps, which should help to get a good fit. We will reach out and see if we can get more information from the company about the fabric.

Alison20827
August 30, 2020

I would highly recommend you check out the Debrief Me mask. I have used it for years for allergies and it seems to comply with all the requirements, even without a filter. With the filter, it is even more protective. It is not cheap, but lasts forever and is very comfortable.It creates a tight seal too when tightened.

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. We will keep your suggestion in mind.

Donald20822
August 28, 2020

Hopefully this mask will also be tested: Is it all hype or is it really a breakthrough?

LG REVOLUTIONIZES PERSONAL CLEAN AIR WITH PURICARE™ WEARABLE AIR PURIFIER
LG Electronics (LG) will give new meaning to clean, personal air with the introduction PuriCare™ Wearable Air Purifier at IFA 2020.

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

There does not appear to be any published research on the efficacy of this product.

Naomi20818
August 27, 2020

Please review the Turtleback Reusable Face Mask (by Turtleback Case). The cost is $20 for two masks, each with 3 layers of fabric and adjustable ear loops. The adult size covers most of my small face. Delivery time was good.

Isabel20816
August 27, 2020

I'm in California, fairly near one of the fires. They may not be extinguished until the first rains in November. We get smoke. I'm looking for something that is both a COVID mask and a smoke mask, if there is such a thing. Do you know or can you find out? People I see shopping are wearing either one or the other. I wear my smoke mask until I get inside a store, then swap it quickly for a COVID mask. Tricky.

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

Unfortunately there does not appear to be an ideal solution for this; some experts have suggested that if you are using an N95 mask with a valve to protect from smoke, you might tape over the valve or wear a surgical mask over the N95 to help protect others when going into a store (https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/08/418276/what-know-about-wildfire-smoke-and-covid-19).

Ralph20805
August 26, 2020

I have an issue with the Vida mask that I ordered and received. The adjustable piece is broken which means I cannot secure the mask. I've tried to reach out to them on their website but the return portion of it does not appear to be working. I would hesitate to recommend this vendor in spite of the good reviews.

terri20806
August 26, 2020

I ordered several of the Vida masks as well and had a problem with them. They are very small and do not fit any members of my family (and we have skinny faces!). In addition, their customer service was challenging to say the least. I'm not sure why these masks are rated so highly as they fit no one!

Katherine20809
August 26, 2020

I will second that concern. We also purchased Vida masks, and they were tight even on my petite 11-year-old son. The ear loops are also not particularly stretchy, so if I tighten them enough to make the mask fit as it should, the mask is both too tight and my ears hurt. In addition, the filters they provide do not cover the entire area that air might flow in/out of the mask. All in all, nice concept but poor execution and fit.

Barbara20835
August 31, 2020

Same thing happened to my mask and it was brand new. I slip knotted the ear loop to make it tighter
to fit around my ear.

Lisa20866
September 4, 2020

I had exactly the same issue. The rubber adjuster split in half on Day One. They supplied a second one which I am going to try to put on; even if I can get it onto the mask, I fear it will also split easily.

BRUCE20796
August 25, 2020

TO MAKE GENERIC BLUE/WHITE MASKS W/ EAR LOOPS BETTER I ADD A STRIP OF 1" WIDE MEDICAL TAPE ALONG THE TOP. THIS DEALS WITH FOGGING UP MY GLASSES. FOR A MORE COMPLETE SEAL I ADD STRIPS OF TAPE ALONG EACH END STICKING THE MASK TO MY CHEEKS. ALSO ALONG THE BOTTOM. THIS FEELS BETTER WHEN USING PUBLIC TRANSIT.

Barbara20784
August 23, 2020

I've made the Jesse Killion masks that are on www.fabricpatch.net website:
https://media.rainpos.com/220/jessemask.pdf
They're easy to make (I add a poly fiber liner), fit extremely well (I also changed the sides to accommodate elastic loops for fitting around the ears) and have made them for the rest of the family.

Marion20870
September 5, 2020

Barbara..
Would you know anyone who makes
JESSIE Killian masks for sale?
Mara
NYC

John20783
August 23, 2020

There may be a substantial discount available if you order 10 or more masks.

Michaelann20780
August 23, 2020

Purchased four Vida brand masks and washed on gentle cycle and hung to dry. Looks quite wrinkled after drying compared to all my other masks, and one has loose stitching before I’ve even worn it.

Sophia20778
August 23, 2020

Can you check out and review Vogmask (non-valve version)? They cost $33 and are constantly sold out.

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind.

Marcy20777
August 23, 2020

What are your thoughts on the PURE-MSK Nano Air Mask?

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

We have not reviewed this mask but we will keep your suggestion in mind.

Christopher20776
August 23, 2020

Do you happen to know when the Vistaprint (Trumask) changed its fabric. I ordered it after reading the review, then saw the news today that the fabric had changed. I hate to toss a mask that might be perfectly good. Is there a way I could tell which version I have?

Thanks, Chris

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

The change seems to have occurred around late July/early August. We are not sure if there is a way to tell by looking at the mask, but we will reach out to the company and let you know if they have any suggestions. If the mask is comfortable and fits well, it might be worth trying to add your own layer of cotton to the inside of the mask.

Mary20855
September 2, 2020

If you ask the company they will tell you if your order is made with the newer fabric. They know.

Katherine20773
August 21, 2020

I ordered the custom Vistaprint masks before their rating on this page was revised, so I don't know what the interior fabric will be. I am wondering if you think two modifications might be appropriate (assuming it is no longer cotton inside). Either line the mask with an additional layer of cotton OR make replacement filters out of the Filti Face Mask Material that you recommend above. What would you suggest?

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

Adding a layer of cotton to the inside of the mask might be good to try; the WHO guidelines recommend cotton for the inner layer to help absorb moisture. If you don't want to purchase the filters that Vistaprint sells, the Filti inserts are another option. They can be cut to fit, but be sure to compare the dimensions with the size of the filter pocket in the Vistaprint masks.

Kristine20772
August 20, 2020

The Proper Cloth masks fit well and are comfortable, though talking a lot as a census enumerator does tend to pull it down and require adjustment. Small seemed to be the right size based on measurements but maybe a bit more room would be better if you talk a lot! 3 for $50 with free shipping. Arrived via USPS a couple days before their predicted arrival.

Pamela20767
August 19, 2020

With ear loop masks, if a wearer adds an ear saver that pulls the loops to the back of the head and snugs it to the face, is the efficiency of the mask improved? Thank you.

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

It would seem that using ear savers that pull the loops to the back of the head would increase the tension and provide a tighter fit, which would likely help, but we have not seen any published tests comparing the use of loops and ear savers with ties.

Ann20762
August 19, 2020

Have you seen the type of mask made of soft silicone with a replaceable filter that is given for KN95 filtration, such as: https://www.stsofficial.com/collections/protective-masks-kn95
or https://www.gatapack.com/collections/masks/products/gata-mask-adult-grey

I got one and found the soft silicone gives the best seal while not making any mark on the skin. But how can we verify that the KN95 filter is from a reputable trusted supplier?

Thank you in advance

ConsumerLab.com
August 27, 2020

Thank you for sharing your experience with this mask. Without more information we cannot comment on the efficacy of the filter, but we would recommend asking the company selling the mask for more details about the filter, such as the name of manufacturer, and any testing data they may have. As noted in the "N-95 vs. KN-95 respirators" the CDC has published its own tests of KN-95 respirators which found many had much lower filtration efficacy than N-95 respirators. However, it's not clear if the KN-95 filters sold with the masks you mention have undergone testing.

Susana20761
August 19, 2020

If you buy masks with ear loops, you really have to look for the ones with *adjustable* ear loops that allow you to tighten the tension. As for surgical masks, tie a knot in each ear loop: that tightens it up. There's a method I saw online where a nurse (I believe) showed a method where you can also fold the surgical mask in half length-wise, then tie a knot in each ear loop *as close to the mask itself as possible,*, then unfold the mask, pop the corners inward, and the mask is now more ... "round" on your face, shaped more like an N95, and definitely a tighter fit.

Kay20766
August 19, 2020

I did that and it did fit much tighter, but the ear loops really hurt my ears, so I untied them and went back to the way it was and use it for quick trips into a store. Have a better one for wearing for longer periods of time.

Deborah20774
August 22, 2020

I saw the same video. She's a young doctor, and her method works very well. I've used her technique and it created a much better fit and seal on my Mother's face. No more gaposis.

Gloria20788
August 23, 2020

I tried tying the ear loops as close to the mask as possible, but doing so did not work for me: there was still too much distance to hold the mask close to keep the space inside. I seem to have a small face that not only leaves too much up-down distance at the cheeks, but also under the chin! I am still looking for a mask that fits better that does not cost more than I feel comfortable paying.

susan20792
August 24, 2020

I think this is the video you are referring to
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TTg53aAP8Q

Stewart20757
August 19, 2020

For the replaceable filter I purchased some MERV 13 filter material which can be cut to fit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087G5BY6G.

Martha20754
August 19, 2020

I have purchased the Giftington masks, and actually bought another round for my husband and I to have a backup. They fit very well, and one can put an additional filter in a slot between the layers if you wish. They are extremely well made and look very tailored and professional when wearing.

Daniel20611
August 16, 2020

Have you checked out the UnderArmour Sports Mask? Just got it and, at around $30, a bit pricey. BUT it works GREAT!

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. This mask appears to have three layers (including the insert); however, the inner layer of this mask is not made of a cotton or cotton blend and so it does not meet WHO guidelines.

MaryLee20609
August 16, 2020

Consumer Lab...Thank you for your great work. I have a mask where both the inner and outer layer is made of bamboo viscose. Is this just as good as cotton? (It is very soft and cool on my face, but I am wondering...Does the bamboo viscose fabric offer as much protection as cotton?

ConsumerLab.com
August 28, 2020

We aren't aware of any studies that have tested the filtration efficacy of bamboo viscose fabric. Bamboo viscose can be lighter and more breathable than cotton, and is more water-absorbent, so it could possibly work for the inner layer of a mask – although WHO specifically recommends cotton or cotton blends for this layer. Bamboo would not be a good choice for the outer layer of a mask, which WHO advises should be hydrophobic (something that repels water rather than absorbs it).

Natalia20605
August 16, 2020

Some Proper Cloth masks, as their site states, are made of linen or blend of linen and cotton and NOT just cotton.

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

We've noted this in the answer above.

Pamela20817
August 27, 2020

The Proper Cloth Performance Mask has a sewn in filter. I discovered this only when I received the mask. The instructions for cleaning said to remove the filter to wash. I contacted the company and was told that they were going to make this clearer on the website. I ordered the small. It's quite snug to the point of being a bit uncomfortable on a hot day.

"Version 1.5 (v1.5) This version is sewn from performance knit fabrics and features an over-the-head elastic band design. We sewed the filters into these masks to ensure they remain secure during vigorous activity. This version has the same dimensions as v1.1."

winston20602
August 16, 2020

I'm looking for breathable, moisture-wicking masks suitable for outdoor walking, running, and exercise. Can you add sports-related masks to your tests?

Cotton in T-shirts tends to hold onto moisture, leading to discomfort. I would imagine that cotton against the face is similar. Polyester, elastane, and nylon are some synthetics that help evaporate sweat. Can that be done safely with breath moisture and sweat?

I have no financial interest in masks or athletic gear.

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion. We will keep it in mind.

Mark20599
August 16, 2020

I wonder if you could take a look at the Giftington mask. It seems to meet the criteria with 3 layers plus a filter pocket. I have no interest in the company, but I read about the masks early on and bought two. The fit is excellent.

Marion20891
September 7, 2020

I have tried to reach them by telephone but cannot find a telephone number.

M

Carol20598
August 16, 2020

Please add to your testing criteria, how muffled my speaking voice would be with each.

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind.

Lisa20595
August 16, 2020

Bought a few of the Vistaprint masks. My friend likes them a lot. I wear glasses and have a hard time placing them on my face (even with the bendable nose piece) to avoid fogging. I also find it a bit difficult to place the filter correctly. I had an issue with one mask and the company promptly replaced it. Not pleased to find that they no longer meet WHO specifications. I may experiment with some of your other suggestions. I have no financial interest in any masks - just trying to find a good protective one which will not fog my glasses.

Isabel20594
August 16, 2020

Based on one of your previous reviews, I purchased the top-rated one from Proper Cloth. I found it very difficult to fit (Customer Service was very polite and suggested that I shorten the strings - ha! - I have a normally-sized head) and after it was carefully hand-washed the inner layer bunched up in the middle and was impossible to un-bunch. Customer Service (bless their hearts!) refunded my money without making me send it back.

Sandra20593
August 16, 2020

Just received our Vida masks. They are not actually adjustable. the little rubber knobs that are supposed to be used to adjust them are cheap and useless. They fall off, cannot be put back on. They don't hold in place at all.
The mask is small and not particularly comfortable. We are not at all happy with them.

terri20583
August 16, 2020

I ordered a large batch of Vida masks and filters. They are awful! I'm not sure why they are getting good ratings on various sites. Perhaps they meet WHO guidelines for fabric and filtration but they are unwearable. It says on their website that they fit adults and children. They may be appropriate for small children but certainly not for adults. I am a small adult with a small face. It does not fit me. It did not fit my skinny-faced husband or young adult son. The filters are hard to insert and place properly within the mask and are small, barely covering your nose and mouth. In addition, the customer service is incredibly poor. I own several other masks and these are by far the worst I have purchased. Really disappointed.

Robert20581
August 14, 2020

Although the description of the Vistaprint mask says the inner layer is cotton, I have learned from the company that the composition of the mask has been changed, and now both the outer and inner layers are polyester.

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

We've updated our review of this mask in the answer above.

Kevin20570
August 12, 2020

With how strained supply chains are, I'm concerned about whether commercially produced masks are being made out of material that it safe to breathe through all day. How can I ensure that the masks I buy don't have materials that expose me to pesticides, VOCs, heavy metals, or hazardous dyes?

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

We advise asking for details about fabrics used in masks, before or when placing an order. However, it can be difficult to get this kind of information about the fabric used in masks, and, as we note in the answer above, it's not uncommon for companies to change the fabrics or fabric suppliers they use in order to keep up with high demand.

william20569
August 12, 2020

I was somewhat surprised to find that the Vistaprint RFS masks I ordered on 7/29 were shipped from China on on 8/5 and scheduled to arrive tomorrow 8/13 on UPS. I just thought your readers should be aware when making their choice.

ConsumerLab.com
August 12, 2020

We've added information about where each mask is made in the answer above.

carol20553
August 10, 2020

Not all quilting cotton is the same quality. You have to physically feel the material and hold it up to a light to see how tightly woven it is. I have ordered quilting cotton from specialty online quilt stores that sell high end fabric and the fabric was see through. Also, you cannot know the thread count of a fabric unless you look on the bolt for the manufactures specifications. Even then the thread count might not be listed.

Betty20592
August 16, 2020

I did the same thing. Really poor quality.

Ann20643
August 18, 2020

There is a way to count/check the TPI (Thread per inch) of a fabric. yourself. Simply draw a one inch square with a pencil, take a picture of the square with phone while zooming as much as you can with keeping a good image, and then zoom again when viewing the picture. You can then actually see the threads, and count them, in both directions, and add the two numbers. For high filtration high thread cotton (600 TPI), that's a lot of counting, so I prefer to do the same method with a smaller 1 centimeter square. 1 square inch is equal to 6.45 square cm, so just multiply the result on the square cm by 6.45 to get the TPI.

Susan20544
August 10, 2020

I've been making masks for myself family and friends because I have a lot of fabric samples of silk, cotton, linen and blends, including some viscose, which I do not know exactly how good it is material for mask making however. If someone knows about this type of fabric - what its qualities are let me know! Most of my masks are quite thick and a little hard to breathe through depending on what I make them out of but I can tailor them to fit me or my family. I'm mostly now using 2 silk layers with a cotton lining that can be tucked in under flaps and is the same shape as the outer 2 layers. I've tried many patterns. I wanted to see what commercial masks are like compared to mine so I ordered the top four and one copper one. I was surprised at how thin the materials are and generally flimsy the nose wires are. Also the filters were generally hard to place into the masks and did not conform to the shape or size of the mask. I also have a small face/chin. Only the Vistaprint really fit me and it has a good method to hold the filter, which was the best shape compared to the others. Even so, after a long walk the cotton lining was sort of sticking to my mouth. The Vida mask I put a dart in it to fit my chin, but it would most likely fit a face that is a little bigger than mine. Because the flap to insert the filter is only open on one side, it's a little to difficult to insert the filter which at least has some stiffness to it but then it does not conform to the mask shape. The Atelier mask (cotton/satin) I gave to my daughter who also has a small face. It fit but there were gaps on the sides which I remedied by putting large bobby pins down the side tubes where the elastics fit in the mask. A piece of wire or cut zip tie would work too. The small filters are absolutely flimsy and rectangle and have to be put in from the bottom of the mask. The fabric is nice though. I ended up sewing a silk fabric piece in the shape of the mask and I even put a zippy plastic strip down the middle and sides to create a form to the home make filter. I ordered the Propercloth on 7/27 but it has not come yet. In addition, I ordered a mask from Copper Compression which fits my husband but not me and seems nice. No filter inserts. I'm not connected to any of these companies and these are just my opinions based on how the masks fit me (small face) and how they compare to the masks I am sewing (not selling any).

Betty20559
August 12, 2020

That's a great review. Thank you. I've been experimenting with materials and construction as well. I add a thick layer of spunbond material in the middle with cotton quilting material on the outside and teeshirt material inside which is nice and soft. I put a loop of stretchy tie around the back of the neck and then pull the ties up through casings over the head which allows great adjustment as far as fit goes. Also, easy to get on and off for a tie-on mask. I haven't been able to get ear loops anywhere near as tight fitting.

Susan20579
August 13, 2020

I just received the Propercloth mask. This one the ties are 2 loops behind the head. Rather tight with no adjustment except for positioning the loops. The mask itself seemed nice. I think I saw that they are also making ear loop ones. It really matters what type of ears you have whether ear loops will work. Soft floppy ears don't hold loops too well! If you are making your own ties - I have a sheet made from stretchy tee shirt type material I've used for ties and if you have an old t-shirt you can cut it into strips as they make some nice soft ties that have some give to them. As above, no interest in any of these firms.

Linda20542
August 9, 2020

I'm curious about the advice to wash cloth masks in a washing machine. So many don't have agitators, so why would a washing machine be more effective than hand washing in hot soapy water where the mask(s) can be scrubbed by hand?

ConsumerLab.com
August 10, 2020

Machine washing, if safe for the fabric, may just be more convenient. It may also allow for a hotter water temperature to be used than could be tolerated by some when washing by hand.

Drucilla20539
August 9, 2020

Thank you for all your incredibly helpful information. I purchased two Vista Trumasks and filters based upon your recommendation. One suggestion: in your review you did not mention that their filters should not be washed, although you did say that before wearing for the first time to remove the filter before washing, so you might add that to the review. Do you know the filtering specifics of these masks? Will they filter a particle as small as a coronavirus?

ConsumerLab.com
August 26, 2020

Thank your for your suggestion. We've added a note about the filter to the review. Vistaprint does has not provided any information about the filtration efficacy of their masks. There has been some preliminary research on the filtration efficacy of cloth masks and various fabrics in general (see "How cotton and household fabrics compare in blocking coronavirus" in the answer above).

Geraldina E20537
August 9, 2020

Hi, I am a Consumerlab member.
I read your review "Make or buy an effective mask" and I order the Vistaprint RFS Mask through the website you provided for that company. I received the envelope 2 days ago but when I opened it, I notice the mask packages does not show "Vistaprint" name anywhere. The name on the package is "trumask". Please explain. Thanks

ConsumerLab.com
August 10, 2020

Trumask is the manufacturer that fulfills orders for Vistaprint.

Lisa20555
August 11, 2020

I was confused, too, when my package of masks arrived. Nothing on receipt or packaging indicated "Vistaprint" or even "RFS" (its trademarked product). That said, they arrived sooner than expected by mail and are of good quality!

Peter20535
August 9, 2020

I have been told that MERV 16 material is effective?? It comes on a roll and is 1/16" thick. What is your experience in this material?

ConsumerLab.com
August 31, 2020

A Merv 16 rating means that a material has an average filtration efficiency of 75% or greater for particles 0.3 - 1.0 microns (https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-merv-rating-1). For comparison, an N95 mask has a filtration efficiency of 95% for particles 0.3 microns in size, as noted in the answer above. However, be aware that some Merv materials can contain fiberglass or other materials that can be harmful inhaled.

n20529
August 9, 2020

Could you please provide data on an approved mask that is made in the USA or Canada?

ConsumerLab.com
August 10, 2020

In our list above, we've noted which masks claim to be made in the U.S.

Robert20527
August 9, 2020

When ordering Vida masks, pay attention to the information about their size. Vida, rather confusingly, has two different provider locations. One, apparently not in the United States, sent me a mask far too small to fit me. It was more like a small child's mask that would not stretch to fit over my ears. If you are an adult, be sure to order from the USA Vida location (in California) if you want the mask to fit. They should make this clearer in their ads. The product itself seems to be very well made, of multiple layer cotton, and the filters are nicely finished and smooth.

Glenn20524
August 8, 2020

I'd like to see another review of an acceptable fabric machine-washable mask that doesn't require use of a filter. The one reviewed above that has these features looks huge in the chin area--I'm a small framed person with a normal chin and don't want a bunch of fabric hanging down over my chin.

ConsumerLab.com
August 9, 2020

We will keep your suggestion in mind.

Floyd20523
August 8, 2020

I received a VistaPrint (aka Tru-Mask) yesterday and tried it out. I really wanted it to work because it looks good but it leaked around my nose and fogged my glasses. BTW, it did not come with a filter--you'll need to buy those separately. I tried several of these mask and for me, the Proper Cloth mask has fit my nose the best and caused the least fogging and it was comfortable enough for all day wear. The prior post about having to shop around to find the one that fits YOUR face is spot on. Disclaimer: I have no financial interests in any mask company.

Tanya20509
August 5, 2020

The Vistaprint ones ship from China so that is why they take so long but they quickly send your design examples and process those quickly and ship soon after

Elliot20476
July 29, 2020

You don't mention if the latest masks are as protective as an N95 mask?

ConsumerLab.com
July 31, 2020

If you are referring to the mask brands we reviewed above, we are not aware of tests that have compared them to N95 masks, so they should not be considered equivalent. Most of the masks we selected are constructed of at least three layers of fabrics such as higher thread count cotton, cotton polyester blends, chiffon, with an inner layer (or filter) of nonwoven material such as polypropylene, or cotton, as recommended by WHO. Some of these combinations of fabric, such as three layers of cotton, or two layers of chiffon with one layer of cotton, have been shown in preliminary studies (such as the Konda study discussed in the answer) to be nearly as effective in filtering particles as N95 mask material at low air flow rates. However, as noted in that study, the fabric combinations were not tested at normal air flow rates or as a fully constructed, fitted face mask -- so there could also be air leakage around these masks that might not occur with an N-95 mask.

Anna20504
August 2, 2020

Please realize that filtration depends upon two things: the components making up the mask, and how tightly it fits. A poorly fitting mask loses 50% of filtration capability. So please consider both when choosing a mask.

Steve20459
July 26, 2020

It appears that most OTC cloth masks protect others from me. Will any of these masks protect me from maskless individuals?

ConsumerLab.com
July 30, 2020

Please see the "Why you should wear a mask" section in the answer above.

Claudia20453
July 26, 2020

I am wondering if you evaluated the Oura Mask, which is impregnated with silver oxide and titanium dioxide. It also has a pocket for an N95 filter. If sized properly, has a very secure fit and does restrict air flow,

ConsumerLab.com
August 12, 2020

We have not reviewed this mask but will keep your suggestion in mind.

Margaret20779
August 23, 2020

I also purchased 2 of these and would be interested in a review.
I've been a member and highly recommend you to anyone that will listen, including all of my and my husband's Doctors as well of my fellow nurses and med friends. Thank you for all that you do.

Elizabeth20450
July 26, 2020

I have purchased multiple masks from multiple companies, but the Vistaprint masks are far and away my favorites. I have no financial interest in Vistaprint, these masks simply fit me the best and I like the filter option. It's a bit tricky to get the filter worked into place but aside from that, the masks are perfect, at least for my face.

linda20449
July 26, 2020

What about copper masks are they better

ConsumerLab.com
July 28, 2020

Please see the section "Are copper masks better?" in the answer above.

Debashree20374
July 12, 2020

Hello,
Since chiffon (90% Polyester, 10% Spandex) comes with the following care instructions : "Hand wash cold, no bleach, line dry, cool iron reverse side", what would be the recommended method to sanitize a mask made of cotton and chiffon as suggested?
Regards,
-Debs

ConsumerLab.com
August 13, 2020

We've added information about this in the "How to Clean a Cloth Mask" above. We also reached out to the maker of the Atelier Vertex mask we reviewed (since it is made with a chiffon blend) and added the company's advice to the "Cleaning" information for that mask.

MaryLee20348
July 9, 2020

Question for Consumer Lab: I have a been placing my KN95 mask on the dashboard in my car for disinfecting, and was wondering....Can the effectiveness of the mask possibly be compromised if I leave it on the dash board in the hot sun for too long of a time, say...several days, or even a week before taking the mask out of the car?

ConsumerLab.com
August 17, 2020

We aren't aware of any research that suggests this would a problem. However, be aware that masks labeled as "KN-95" are not N-95 respirators and their filtration may not match that of N-95 masks. See "N-95 vs. KN-95 respirators" in the answer above.

Julia20282
July 1, 2020

Many of the patterns for masks include a layer of non-woven interfacing, but I don't see mention of that in these studies. Does non-woven interfacing provide extra protection? Thanks.

ConsumerLab.com
July 7, 2020

A preliminary study (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20065375v1.full.pdf -- not peer-reviewed) that compared various fabrics found that non-woven fusible interfacing fabric has less filtration efficacy than fabrics such as denim, quilting cotton and T-shirt fabric, but it did improve filtration efficacy when combined with other fabrics.

The researchers noted: "Nonwoven fusible interfacing, the kind used for stiffening collars and other areas in garments, was able to significantly improve the ability of the fabrics to filter ultrafine particles without increasing breathing resistance. Of particular note, we found that brand was important. HTC lightweight interfacing was more effective than Heat-n-Bond lightweight interfacing. Applying two layers of the Heat-n-Bond achieved similar improvements to filtration efficiency as the HTC brand. Wonder Under, a double sided, heavyweight fusible interfacing for constructing bags and craft projects. showed similar filtration ability to the HTC brand but may be too stiff to be suitable for face mask construction."

Linda20357
July 10, 2020

I've read a recent study stating that a filter made of polypropylene is very efficient as it holds an electrostatic charge. Given that research, I purchased a yard of polypropylene at a local fabric store and am using a double layer in my masks, all of which have a filter pocket. No problem breathing through it. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c02211?ref=pdf&

Linda20445
July 26, 2020

Did the same after reading similar research. I have four 100% organic cotton double layer masks with a wired nose and a filter pocket. They fit very well. Bought two yards of polypropylene which I've cut into double layer filters to fit the masks. The caveat about polypropylene is that after washing, it needs to be ironed to reinstate the electrostatic charge.

Drucilla20538
August 9, 2020

Do you have a reference on the need for ironing after washing polypropylene? I have not seen that mentioned previously.

Wendell20281
July 1, 2020

I'm curious to know how far a cough travels if you cough into your elbow. As well, if the droplets settle to the ground or become as airborne as if you coughed through a mask.

ConsumerLab.com
July 6, 2020

One study in healthy adults found that coughing into the elbow was not very effective in blocking droplets from coughing, particularly small droplets (less than 1 micron) (Zayas, BMC Public Health 2013 -- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3846148/). However, coughing into the elbow may be preferable to coughing into the hands, which may come in contact with and/or contaminate surfaces that are touched, if hands are not immediately washed after coughing. See the CDC's general guidelines for preventing the spread of germs when coughing or sneezing https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html.

Robert20785
August 23, 2020

Coughing in the elbow is all well and good as long as we give up doing the elbow bump for obvious reasons!

Tina20249
June 25, 2020

For a filter, I've been cutting up the vacuum cleaner bag from 3-M Filtrete "Ultra Allergen" which (according to the package) captures 99% of particles larger than 1 micron in size and captures 57% of particles between 0.3-1 micron in size.
I've been putting these into a pocket in my handmade masks made from 100% cotton. The masks are the sculpted kind, with a seam in the middle, wire above the nose, covering below the chin and high on the cheek. They are not the rectangular kind.with horizontal folds.
What do you think of using this type of material for a filter?

ConsumerLab.com
July 14, 2020

By estimating potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in droplets released from coughing and sneezing and comparing that with the filtration efficacy of various household materials, one set of researchers suggested that vacuum cleaner bags could, theoretically, provide a greater reduction in the risk of infection than materials such as tea towels or cotton T-shirts (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264937/). However, there are concerns with using vacuum cleaner bags as masks or as filters in masks. For example, a 2013 study in participants who wore various homemade masks and then tested while coughing, the filtration efficacy of vacuum cleaner bags was found to be almost as good as a surgical mask. However, the researchers noted that the bag's thickness and stiffness created too much resistance to air flow, making it difficult to breath and "rendering it unsuitable for a face mask." In addition, one large manufacturer of vacuum cleaner bags and filters, Shop-Vac, has issued a warning to consumers that its products should not be used for making masks, stating, in part: "First, the filter materials used in the vacuum cleaners are for no purpose other than to protect the end users of Shop Vac products from particles or debris being expelled back into the ambient air during operation. They are in no way designed or intended to protect humans from bacteria, viruses or other pathogens. Second, direct contact or coverage of the human mouth or nose with the filter materials are strictly forbidden for any purpose. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to make a mask or mask material from any filters manufactured, sold or distributed in the market for or by Shop-Vac Corporation. These materials were not designed, intended or designated for this type of use." (https://www.shopvacstore.com/collection-filter-bags-list.aspx)

Margaret20225
June 21, 2020

Does wearing a clear face shield in addition to a mask improve protection of the wearer? Does wearing only the face shield provide any significant protection to the wearer or to those the wearer comes in contact with?

ConsumerLab.com
June 22, 2020

A study discussed in our CL Answer about face shields ( https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/face-shield-protection-covid-19/face-shield-covid-19/) showed that wearing a face shield protected the person who wore the shield, by significantly decreasing the inhalation of large aerosol particles of influenza virus from simulated coughing. (It can also help protect the eyes from these larger particles, which a mask doesn't do.) However, the researchers also noted that "smaller particles can remain airborne longer and flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled." For these reasons, wearing the combination of a mask and shield is best.

b20272
June 30, 2020

What does

"flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled' mean?

It sounds like it could mean the face shield enhances air flow and infiltration, so that one is more likely to breathe in the small particles if they are present.

ConsumerLab.com
July 7, 2020

It does not mean that wearing a face shield increases the amount of small particles that are inhaled, just that smaller aerosol particles that linger in the air may be more likely to get past the edges of the shield than larger particles. This is why wearing a mask with face shields is best.

Mary20220
June 21, 2020

How can I clean my N95 mask which I have been using a few times a week when I go out. It is starting to look grubby from makeup etc.
Thank you

ConsumerLab.com
June 24, 2020

Use of makeup under an N95 mask is generally not recommended, and could potentially affect mask material when cleaning. For example, The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons advises that residue from makeup "may adversely affect the integrity of the material after re-processing. It is recommended that foundation, sunscreen, or other forms of make-up not be worn underneath." (See https://www.sages.org/n-95-re-use-instructions/).

Melinda20613
August 17, 2020

One of my coworkers has discovered that putting a piece of paper towel on the inside of her mask keeps her makeup off the mask and she can replace or toss it as needed. It doesn't seem to affect breathe-ability and protects the integrity of the mask.

Adam20201
June 17, 2020

Has ConsumerLab considered testing commercial masks aimed at consumer markets to verify their efficacy claims? Thinking halolife, cambridgemask... Companies that are trying to be serious contenders for consumer safety -- though even in that sample of two, one of them has an exhalation vent which may or may not be filtered at all, where to my mind if a mask isn't filtering exhaled air at least as much as a cotton face covering then it's no good.

ConsumerLab.com
June 17, 2020

We are not testing masks at this time. You are correct, however, than any mask with an exhalation valve is only helping the wearer.

Walter 20167
June 12, 2020

I went to two Jo Anne fabric stores and they do not have the 10percent/90percent polyester blend of chiffon you mentioned. Only 100% polyester. Will that have the desired electrostatic qualities? What about the blend in a heavier stretch fabric?

ConsumerLab.com
June 13, 2020

It’s not clear from the study if 100% polyester silk would have the same electrostatic properties, although the study did test a 100% polyester silk material and find it had a lower filtration efficacy than the chiffon fabric. However, we were able to find a 90% polyester and 10% spandex chiffon blend sold on Jo-Ann Stores website (Silky Solids Stretch Chiffon Fabric -- https://www.joann.com/silky-solids-stretch-chiffon-fabric-marshmellow/16376931.html). You may also try contacting your local store and providing them with the seller part number for the chiffon fabric used in the study (#16376949).

Walter 20178
June 13, 2020

Thanks. I’ll try that.

Walter 20209
June 18, 2020

On the Joann.com website I found the 10% spandex 90% polyester in many patterns and a few solids, and I could see which ones are available at the store in my town. I printed a screen capture of several patterns with the product ID. With this, the store associate was able to lead me to the aisle with all the "silky stretch chiffon," as it is called on the website. The website requires a minimum purchase of two yards, but the store will sell six-inch strips, the minimum necessary to make masks.

Anna20157
June 10, 2020

Has anyone tested copper masks to see if people inhale particles, either initially or after they are washed?

The use of a wide range of products not designed to be worn over the nose and mouth is a huge concern in the mask maker community. While products might have excellent filtration and breathability, their long term safety is unknown because it has never been tested. I would think the same is true for copper in masks.

While I don't agree with the whole critique of the CuMask+ being distributed in Hong Kong, the concern about copper inhalation seems valid
https://www.dimsumdaily.hk/experts-sceptical-of-the-effectiveness-of-cumask-given-free-by-the-government/

ConsumerLab.com
June 13, 2020

We've added information about this in the answer above.

David20132
June 7, 2020

Thank you for your work! ConsumerLab is one of the few sources of information that I generally trust.

Regarding masks and reliable fit after long use, I would like to see a review of the Soft Seal mask (https://www.softsealmask.com/). I have purchased several of their N95 respirators. As an engineer with a fair bit of experience designing seals - this mask I think will have a much more reliable and robust seal to the face.

ConsumerLab.com
June 15, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We have not reviewed this particular product, but as noted in the answer above, a good fit (snug and without gaps) is important for mask efficacy.

According to the link to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) letter provided on the company's website it is "... is approved for protections against particulates at a N95 filter efficacy."

Thomas20454
July 26, 2020

This mask as a valve. I expect the valve is necessary because the tightly-adhering silicone seal moves with the face and without the valve the air could not be expelled when exhaling. However, the valve prevents the mask from performing its primary function--protecting others if you're infected. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Roger20105
June 3, 2020

It is unfortunate that in the USA, the most powerful and most prosperous country in the world would give you no option other to self-purchase this mask. If the government cared about its citizens, they should follow the Hong Kong Government and distribute the CuMASK to every citizen who holds a social security card.

Bev20223
June 21, 2020

I agree 100 %.

Dawn20490
August 1, 2020

Good point.

Betty20101
June 3, 2020

I've been hacking masks together for a few weeks now, trying different fabrics, different nose pieces, patterns and ties. I finally achieved what I believe to be the best options--an outer layer of quilting cotton, a middle filter layer of spunbond non woven material, lining of an old tee-shirt which is soft and absorbent. The nose piece took a lot of experimentation but I finally discovered that the plastic strips that are used to close bags of coffee turns out to be perfect. After I ran out of strips from my own coffee bags I looked on Amazon and they had 100 strips for $11. The ties I liked best were from a very stretch black fabric that when cut in strips rolls up into a tube. The best way to tied the mask on tightly was using a pattern that made a casing on each side to allow a long strip of tie to loop around the bottom and then pull tight behind the head. The loop is placed over the neck, hold the mask to the face to fit the nose piece, then pull tightly and tie at the back of the head. The seal is very tight. It is slightly difficult to breathe through which means the fit is good but no where near as bad as an n95.

Linda20138
June 7, 2020

I have been making masks as well. I use the pattern found on fabricpatch.com (or org?) out of the state of Washington. I have found that two pieces of pipe cleaner (3 1/2" long) twisted together (I use pliers fro make the ends tight) work great! I zigzag this piece about 1 1/4" below the edge on the front piece of the mask. It can be pinched to fit nice and snugly!

Mary20245
June 24, 2020

Found the link to the site:
http://www.fabricpatch.net/face-masks-for-covid-19-relief.htm

Nancy20095
June 1, 2020

I am wondering if there is any information on using some of the high tech fabrics with antimicrobials for making face masks. Thinking coolmax.

Michael20093
June 1, 2020

Regarding the Filti face mask material: Is there any reason to be concerned that this "nanofiber" engineered material might shed particles that can irritate the lung or cause some pneumoconiosis?

ConsumerLab.com
June 16, 2020

ConsumerLab was told by a Filti company representative: "Our material does not contain fiberglass or any material that is harmful to inhale and the nanofiber is one continuous strand so there is no need to worry about inhaling individual fibers."

Anna20499
August 2, 2020

I have checked the Filti Safety Data Sheet and I’ve seen their comment on fiberglass. However, they have never responded to my question about whether volatile organic compounds are casting/offgassing from the material. Given the fact that they have responded to every other question posed to them, that is a great concern to me. I know that the individual components might be safe - might be – but I would really like a statement from them about the VOCs. It is not forthcoming.

ConsumerLab.com
August 10, 2020

We've contacted Filti and were told by a company representative that Filti Face Mask material does not contain formaldehyde. They also stated that the finished material has not yet been tested for off-gassing of other organic volatile compounds (VOCs); however, the raw material used to make Filti Face Mask material has passed leach testing for VOCs (testing to see if these compounds are emitted from the material) and that the company's engineers believe the same should be true for the finished material.

Ann20644
August 18, 2020

Thank you, that is very reassuring information.

Naomi20087
May 31, 2020

If I use those blue disposable masks to go to the grocery store and other shopping errands, can you use them again if you take them off and leave them in room temperature for 7 - 10 days? I understand that they can't be cleaned or disinfected but I have several and can number them, as mentioned in another post, which would let them sit unused for several days. I am not a caregiver and it's just my husband and me and would like to save money but stay safe.

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

Yes, 7- 10 days at room temperature should be adequate.

DREW20285
July 2, 2020

I just hang mine on the (clothes) hook in my vehicles. Go to the store every 5 to 10 days, rotating mask at these times. In FL inside the vehicle gets 100+ degrees. Doing since March, no problems. Discard mask every month or so i.e. use a "new" mask every 4 to 6 weeks.

ConsumerLab.com
July 3, 2020

That seems like a very good approach.

Kathryn20447
July 26, 2020

This is what I do as well, although I generally use a new disposable blue mask each week and then leave them until the following week. Sometimes I only make one trip a week or ten days but others I have 2 or 3 a week and use the masks that have been baking inside the car for a number of weeks at that time. It made sense that time and the internal heat of the car in a Georgia summer would create temperatures high enough and time long enough for the virus to 'die' off.

Dawn20491
August 1, 2020

Thank you for asking this question!

I also am in the habit of putting a mask I've worn to grocery store or elsewhere aside for about a week. Given that we're told the virus can't survive on any surface for more than that, I feel keeping a small collection of masks and carefully rotating them after each use might be safer than repeatedly washing and contributing to the deterioration of a cloth mask over time.

I'm not going out much so this is pretty doable.

Dawn20492
August 1, 2020

I often leave my used masks in my car, which really heats up in the sun, even here in CT.

Judith20086
May 31, 2020

A friend made a mask for me that has two layers of surgical wrappings in-between two pieces of cloth. How effective is this?

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

We aren't aware of any tests or studies on masks made from surgical wrap, but the University of Florida Health's department of anesthesiology has made masks from this material. In a news release about this (https://ufhealth.org/news/2020/uf-health-anesthesiology-team-devises-respirator-mask-made-existing-hospital-materials) they state that the particular surgical wrapping they used "is thought to be superior to the common surgical mask in its ability to block aerosols and droplets, including water, bacteria and other particles... Although it has undergone rigorous testing and has been assigned a filtering, or N, rating by the manufacturer, it has not been tested for use as a breathed air filter by any regulatory body."

Anna20158
June 10, 2020

There is a Facebook group with 70,000+ members doing open source innovation on PPE. Several people are testing a wide range of materials for filtration and breathability. There are spreadsheets posted on Google Docs and a great deal of discussion.

I don't know which surgical wraps you're referring to? Halyard? Be aware that it comes in different "strengths" from 100 to 600, with different filtration and breathability characteristics.

And a concern for ALL of these materials is that none were designed to be worn over the nose and mouth, so their long term safety is unknown.

Finally, a poorly fitting mask will have its effectiveness reduced by 50%. Bear that in mind.

Sylvia20078
May 29, 2020

Regarding the masks that by virtue of cotton/chiffon/silk layers have an electrostatic charge, I have two questions: Is it true that by wearing a well-fitting homemade mask I can protect myself from co-vid droplets, particles and aerosols? If so, how would an electrostatic mask affect my protection from the droplets, particles and aerosols?

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

We've added information about this in the answer above (see the paragraph about the study Konda, ACS Nano 2020).

Steve20073
May 28, 2020

I purchased a face shield like the first one you reviewed from Amazon prime on 5-3-20 2 days before you did on 5-5-20. Even though it was prime delivery date is still in the future a month.

Paige20053
May 27, 2020

Thank you for all your work! Have you heard anything about Filti face mask material? The website states it is " highly-efficient (up to 95%) on sub-micron particles, including bacteria and viruses."

ConsumerLab.com
May 28, 2020

We haven't reviewed this product, but according to the information available on the product website, the material has a filtration efficacy of "up to 95% at 0.3 micron." If this is accurate, this would be somewhat less efficient for blocking larger sized particles (0.3 microns = 300 nm) than a properly fitted N95 mask, and some of the other fabric masks described in the study in the answer above (Konda, ACS Nano 2020). However, there is no mention of how well the material filters smaller-sized particles or aerosols (< 0.3 micron). Also, be aware that the material data sheet for this product states "Results are the outcome of a single test on a TSI 8130 - they are not guaranteed to be representative of all Filti Mask Material," so if you are interested in this product it might be best to confirm that you are getting the same material as used in their test.

Regarding the safety of Filti material, ConsumerLab was told by a Filti company representative: "Our material does not contain fiberglass or any material that is harmful to inhale and the nanofiber is one continuous strand so there is no need to worry about inhaling individual fibers."

NANCY B20033
May 25, 2020

I had a large number of all cotton, 3 ply, Curity rectangular diapers that I had saved from caring for g'children over 20 yrs ago, that, cut into thirds, lengthwise, made perfect masks, when I attached rubber bands to the ends, to hang around the ears. They wash beautifully in the machine, & are very comfortable to wear. Nancy

ConsumerLab.com
May 25, 2020

Just be sure that they are not constructed with any material that should not be inhaled.

Alan20027
May 24, 2020

The hybrid mask using 600 TPI cotton plus chiffon sounds really great, but the study authors say its effectiveness depends on the electrostatic charge of the chiffon. Would the moisture from the wearer's breath compromise the electrostatic capacity of the chiffon? Also, what about cleaning this mask; would washing it damage the electrostatic capacity of the chiffon?

Thanks for compiling all this information!

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

We reached out to the author of the study and he noted it may be best not to place fabrics with an electrostatic charge, such as silk and chiffon, closest to the nose and mouth for the reason you state. We've added a note about this in the answer above. The study did not investigate the effects of washing on the electrostatic charge of these materials, but we will add more information about this to the answer if it becomes available.

Letitia20014
May 24, 2020

I have been making masks for family and friends using the instructions from the Fabric Patch quilting store https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4r8nwFdUxY. The mask is made from quilting cotton with the filter being 100% polypropylene (Olyfun) ---two layers cotton and two layers polypropylene. My son-in-law has a huge beard so I make him a pleated mask still using 2layers cotton and 2 layers filter. Additional information on Oly-fun can be found here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nTBiOV74SIDaNqLFGWlpNVoeceU_WJLiGuCn0JU-x4g/edit.

Gary J.20013
May 24, 2020

Where can I find a pattern or instructions for making a mask?

ConsumerLab.com
May 27, 2020

The CDC provides instructions for making cloth masks: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html.

Anna20159
June 10, 2020

https://makermask.org/ is THE resource for science based masks and mask patterns.

Richard19995
May 21, 2020

How long does the coronavirus live on or in face masks, especially N95 or KN95? Because these can not be cleaned or decontaminated easily, is it possible to set one aside for a week or longer to allow the virus to die?

Richard

ConsumerLab.com
May 22, 2020

As mentioned in our information about using heat to kill coronavirus, the virus has been shown to last on masks for as long as 7 days - although at just 0.1% of the original level (see https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/heat-to-kill-coronavirus/heat-coronavirus/). Leaving a mask a room temperature (or warmer) for a week or longer would seem a good way to decontaminate the mask, as you suggest.

Catherine20007
May 22, 2020

I keep my N95 mask on the dashboard of my car. I live in South Florida and my car is parked outdoors in the sun. If you have ever been to this area you know that a car parked in the sun gets pretty darn hot and often almost unbearable to get into to.

Lloyd20022
May 24, 2020

I live in Puerto Rico. I purposely park, now, so my car heats up in the morning sun. I hang my mask from the rear view mirror. Why because ConsumerLab tells me heat inactivates the virus. The other day, with an infrared thermometer I measured the temperature of the mask to be, more than, 125 degrees F. My hat, gloves and bandana also get heated and disinfected without any extra effort. When I collect packages from Amazon,etc. I let them sit overnight and the next morning before unpacking, right in the back of my Subaru Forester. The way things are I only drive one or two days a week, not many places to go these days. The interior of my car should be quite a safe haven with no need for special disinfection. Anyone sees a flaw in this approach interested to hear about it.

ConsumerLab.com
May 24, 2020

That seems perfectly reasonable, Lloyd!

CHRISTOPHER20030
May 25, 2020

I thought studies said 135 deg. F. to kill Corona???? I also wonder if you can get the temps up inside a car to 135F. by setting the heat on high/recycle air, and with something on the accelerator to keep up the RPMs to get the engine hot...... Almost every's Car's engine thermostat is set at 200F for the engine coolant, so it would be interesting if a car's HVAC/HEAT will allow an interior to get that hot.....

ConsumerLab.com
May 26, 2020

To clarify, there isn't a magic temperature at which the coronavirus is inactivated -- it's a function of both time and heat (and other factors, such as material on which, or in which, the virus exists). As heat goes up, the less time needed for inactivation. So, even at room temperature, given adequate time, an object with coronavirus will become decontaminated.

Peter20050
May 27, 2020

Silly and potentially dangerous (think carbon monoxide poisoning). Please don't try this especially in an enclosed garage.

Marcy20760
August 19, 2020

What are your thoughts on nanofibers masks? Have you looked at the Pure-MSK Nano Air Mask?

Ronald19977
May 20, 2020

Interesting sites

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-materials-that-filter-particles-best-in-homemade-masks-testing-2020-4

Ursi19976
May 20, 2020

Great information! I’d like to make face masks, but I can’t seem to find these exact dish cloths. I’ve seen microfiber dish cloths made of 80% polyester and 20% polyamid. Would they be as good for masks as the ones made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon?

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020

Polyamide is the more generic term for nylon, so this sounds very close to, but not exactly the same, as the dish cloth fabric blend described in the study.

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf).

If we can get more information about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

jeanette20457
July 26, 2020

I found an Ecloth with the right material make up, as in the study, I have no financial interest in this product.

John19975
May 20, 2020

I have a friend in the UK who is inserting a HEPA filter made for her vacuum cleaner between the layers of the masks she makes? Good idea or?

ConsumerLab.com
May 21, 2020

There is some very preliminary research from Missouri University suggesting that coffee filters, Hepa or furnace filters, and even vacuum cleaner bags, may make homemade cloth masks more effective, but researchers caution that cutting some materials, such as furnace filters, may create small fibers of material that should not be inhaled because they can irritate and damage the lungs. To avoid this, they recommend placing these types of materials in between layers of fabric. For more about this see the researchers video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhckSGPT9Rg.

Anna20171
June 12, 2020

Please, please, please consider breathability when discussing filtering materials. While not published in journals, a lot of of work has gone on in the Open Source PPE Facebook group, where this is a topic of discussion. If you can’t breathe through a mask, you won’t wear it,

Gloria19959
May 20, 2020

Do you have any recommendations for the use of UVC light for a small business. And can you recommend a specific brand. Have you done testing with UVC and how to properly make it functional in regards to SARS-COVID2 In a small business setting?

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020
Christine19958
May 20, 2020

What is considered a dish cloth?

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf). If we can get more information about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

charles19938
May 18, 2020

Did not mention anything about coffee filters

ConsumerLab.com
May 21, 2020

There is some very preliminary research from Missouri University suggesting that coffee filters, and other materials such as Hepa or furnace filters, and vacuum cleaner bags, may make homemade fabric masks more effective, but researchers caution that cutting some materials, such as furnace filters, may create small fibers of material that should not be inhaled because they can irritate and damage the lungs. To avoid this, they recommend placing these types of materials in between layers of fabric. For more about this see the researchers video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhckSGPT9Rg.

Joanne19931
May 17, 2020

My husband found an old face shield in our basement that he had used for welding. I bought a face shield from Staples for $6.50 with free delivery; it was hard, but we removed the covering on both sides of the shield. Voila! I turn a screw in the back of the head covering to make it fit my smaller head.

Richard19922
May 16, 2020

I went to the CDC site to find the test results of KN 95 masks (for filtration efficiency, etc.) but all it listed was companies making N 95 masks. Do you know where the KN 95 list can be found?

Richard

ConsumerLab.com
May 19, 2020

It is in the link we provided. You will see many KN-95 masks listed. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/respirators/testing/NonNIOSHresults.html

Jane19908
May 14, 2020

I have yet to find a dish cloth made of 15% nylon and 85% polyester. Could this ba a microfiber cloth?

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf). If we are able to get further details about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

jeanette20458
July 26, 2020

It is a microfiber cloth with a nubby texture. Found one in my closet and also on Amazon.

micheline19906
May 13, 2020

I don't see any benefit in wearing a mask unless in contact with others. as I find them uncomfortable. In fact, I'm wondering how much carbon dioxide I'm inhaling and if this could be detrimental in the long run. Any studies on that?

ConsumerLab.com
May 27, 2020

The CDC advises "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations." (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html). We've added information about the potential for carbon dioxide build up in N95 masks in the answer above.

Eric19894
May 13, 2020

I'm seeing activated charcoal and activated carbon masks. Is there any reason to think that adding activated carbon or charcoal to a face mask would have any benefit? And I'm talking just a regular, relatively thin masks, not the kind with cylindrical cartridges.

ConsumerLab.com
June 15, 2020

We aren't aware of any studies on the effectiveness of activated charcoal on mask efficacy for COVID-19.

Judith19850
May 10, 2020

Out of curiosity: during the Covid-19 pandemic, which medical personnel require N-95 masks--like what are they doing on the job--and which can use surgical or home-made masks. Thanks.

ConsumerLab.com
May 11, 2020

Please see CDC healthcare personnel guidance for Understanding and Selecting Respiratory Protection Devices (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/pdfs/N95-Infographic-REACH-II-508.pdf).

The CDC defines healthcare personnel as paid and unpaid persons who provide patient care in a healthcare setting or support the delivery of healthcare by providing clerical, dietary, housekeeping, engineering, security, or maintenance services (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/hospresptoolkit/policies.html).

ROBERT19835
May 10, 2020

Would it be possible for people with something like the KN95 masks with ear loops rather than head bands to cut some elastic bands and carefully attach (staple?) them to the sides of such masks without compromising their effectiveness?

ConsumerLab.com
May 11, 2020

We don't know.

James19834
May 10, 2020

N95 masks increase the breathing workload, which requires focusing on breathing and increases mask fatigue.

More isn't always better.

andrea19833
May 10, 2020

Excellent work. Well organized and very helpful. Living in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and working on a taskforce to keep current accurate information available to expat community and to locals as well. Appreciate the work you are doing.

Sally19950
May 20, 2020

andrea19833
I have a sister living in San Cristobal de las Casas, MX. She has shared that it is difficult to get accurate and current information there. Is there a website or source of information I can share with her please? Thank you.

Sally19953
May 20, 2020

Need accurate/current Covid-19 information/ statistics for SanCristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. My sister lives there, please and thank you!

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020

Our website is accessible in Mexico and most countries, although it is in English. We don't have information about other resources in Mexico.

ConsumerLab.com
May 20, 2020

You can find international COVID-19 statistics through Google News: https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US:en. Enter the country or city you want to see statistics for in the search bar in the middle of the page.

Here is the page for Chiapas, Mexico: https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen&mid=%2Fm%2F01zlx

andrea20042
May 27, 2020

Facebook group COVID19SMA is being produced by first rate epidemiologists and infectious disease professionals. I recommend it. Info specific to Mexico is available. (retired Doc)

Florin19830
May 10, 2020

The Aydin paper claims that a new T-shirt with two layers blocks more than the used dishcloth, weighs less, and is almost as breathable. A T-shirt might also be more comfortable to wear as a mask than a dishcloth.

ConsumerLab.com
May 11, 2020

Yes, however, it is not clear if that would remain the case after washing a mask made from a new T-shirt. Results with used shirts were not as good as with the new T-shirt.

Garry 19818
May 7, 2020

Homemade dishcloths better than N95 is very questionable. I don't see any medical front line professionals wearing dishcloths. Is this article for real?

ConsumerLab.com
May 7, 2020

A fair question as this is a serious topic. N-95 masks would certainly seem preferable -- if available. If not, when the level of protection with an N-95 mask is necessary, these approaches may be helpful. This area of research is evolving and, as we note, the studies above have not yet appeared in peer-reviewed journals. We are presenting this information because of the urgency of the current situation.

Florin19829
May 10, 2020

From the paper: "...blocking efficiency of mask fabric against aerosolized and dry airborne particles (usually less than 1µm in size) is beyond the scope of this study. Our goal is to provide scientific insight in the use of home-made facemask fabrics against droplet
dissemination."

MaryLee19816
May 7, 2020

I have a question for ConsumerLab and others who have tried this: I cut an old pair of nylons into the desired length and put it over my face mask. It was indeed, a good seal. However...How am I supposed to take it off without contaminating my face? I had a really hard time doing this when I practiced....Would appreciate some tips. Thanks!

ConsumerLab.com
May 7, 2020

We reached out to the lead researcher at Northeastern, Dr. Loretta Fernandez, who was kind enough to respond with the following: "With washed hands, place the fingers under the nylon below the chin with palms facing toward the body. While spreading fingers to support the mask, lift the mask up and over the face and head. This way seems to work for us to remove the nylons without smearing the nylons along the face and head."

MaryLee19824
May 8, 2020

Thank you, ConsumerLab! I am very grateful for this website, and all the work that you do to help keep us safe!

ConsumerLab.com
May 8, 2020

Thank you for your kind words Mary.

Janet19813
May 6, 2020

Do you have link for the dishcloth fabric or dishcloth used in the study?

ConsumerLab.com
May 7, 2020

The study doesn't include information about the exact brand of dish cloth used, but it does note that it was a blend of 85% polyester and 15% nylon.

Sandra19809
May 6, 2020

In the above study on face masks made with dishcloths did it say if the material was double layered?

ConsumerLab.com
May 6, 2020

One layer of dishcloth fabric was used.

Bruce19822
May 7, 2020

It seems as though thread count would be relevant to the mask. Also microfiber can be a polyester blend or 100% polyester. Do we need more information before we conclude our homemade mask is more efficient than a surgical mask? The idea is a good one.

ConsumerLab.com
May 8, 2020

The details are available in the papers which are published online using the links above.

Mary19891
May 13, 2020

have you been able to test any existing (not homemade) masks on the market? would love to purchase some but not sure where to get quality masks.

ConsumerLab.com
May 13, 2020

We are not testing masks, but reporting on studies where masks have been tested. As far as where to get a good mask, know that any mask is better than no mask if you are going to be within 6 feet of people with whom you are not self-quarantining. N-95 respirators are the best devices but, due to the shortage, should be reserved for medical and other personnel whose jobs require close contact with infectious individuals. After that, consider KN-95 masks, but be sure to select a brand with a high filtration efficacy (see our information above) and that provides a good fit that prevents air leakage around the sides. Medical/surgical masks (the light blue masks) may be the next best option and are available. Cloth masks can also be a good option, especially if they prevent air leakage. Where to buy these? We don't have suggestions -- but other readers are welcome to comment on where they are finding products that ship in a reasonable time frame.

Mary19909
May 14, 2020

Thank you, this is very helpful : )

Brenda19934
May 17, 2020

Should goggles be worn to protect the eyes from Covid 19?

Susan S20004
May 22, 2020

I found boxes of surgical masks at Walgreen's recently (20 count). Made in China....

Susan20026
May 24, 2020

do you think the masks being offered with copper threads might be more effective

arlete20081
May 29, 2020

I have to travel overseas up to 18 hours with mask> How to avoid carbon dioxide?

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

We've added information about copper masks to the answer above.

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

Use of eye protection has been associated with significantly lower transmission rates. For more about this see https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/face-shield-protection-covid-19/face-shield-covid-19/#chu.

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

If you are planning on wearing a very efficient mask, like an N95, and you start to feel uncomfortable or have a headache, take it off and wear a lighter mask for a little while. So consider bringing two types of masks.

arlete20119
June 3, 2020

Thank you for your attention. I really appreciated your information

ConsumerLab.com
June 3, 2020

Thank you for letting us know. We're glad you're finding it helpful.

Steve20588
August 16, 2020

I’m disappointed that VistaPrint changed the fabric as I just received my order of masks and filters. In any case, I am confused about the proper and safe usage of these masks and filters. As you note, the masks are washable and the filters should be replaced after every 12 hours of use. I always wash my masks after each usage. So with this VistaPrint (trumask) mask, if I go out for an hour walk every day, when I get home, am I supposed to take out the filter, wash the mask and then the next day put the used filter back into the clean mask? Please advise.

ConsumerLab.com
August 27, 2020

Unfortunately the guidance for using these filters is not more specific than the recommendation to change after 12 hours of use, but how often you need to change the filter may depend on the environment in which you use it, the risk level of that environment, etc.

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