The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially recommended that all Americans wear protective masks outside to help curtail the spread of the COVID-19 contagion. Previously, the CDC recommended that only individuals who were sick wear masks, but that was when far less data was available. There was also a serious concern that a run on masks from “civilians” would create a supply shortage for health care workers. Many do-it-yourself approaches for homemade masks have now popped up online, but if you don’t know your way around a sewing machine, then all hope isn’t lost. You can cut up household material in the pattern of a surgical mask as the next best option. But what type of material is the most effective for a face mask?
In a 2013 study from Cambridge University, researchers tested household materials to find out which ones did the best job capturing bacteria and viruses. Here’s how they rank.
1) A vacuum cleaner bag:-
A vacuum cleaner bag should be your first option of material to use to cover your face. It will require some clever cutting and rubber-band attachments to serve as a facial mask, but if you can figure that DIY part out, then know that it is 95 percent as effective as a surgical mask.
2) A dish towel:-
Next on the list of household items that you can fashion into a mask? The common dish towel. According to the Cambridge research, this material is 82 percent as effective as a surgical mask.
3) A cotton blend T-shirt:-
The cotton blend T-shirt also serves reasonably well as a protective material. A cotton blend shirt is 74 percent as effective as a surgical mask, though a T-shirt that is 100-percent cotton is slightly less effective at 69 percent.
An antimicrobial pillowcase clocks in at 65 percent as effective as a surgical mask. A normal, non-antimicrobial pillowcase does slightly less well at 60 percent.
5) A wool scarf :-
A woolen scarf is another decent alternative. The Cambridge researchers deemed it 62 percent as effective as a surgical mask.
6) Linen :-
Have a linen tablecloth you can part with? That’s another option at 60 percent as effective as a surgical mask.
7) Silk :-
If you have none of the materials above available, but have silk on hand, know that it’s 58 percent as effective as a surgical mask.