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Will a DIY (Do it yourself) homemade cloth mask protect from Coronavirus?

Making my own mask to protect me from Coronavirus is something many have done in an effort to maybe save a few dollars, look a bit more stylish, or just because they couldn’t find masks when many were sold out. But the question is, can they really protect me from viruses?

IIt has been shown that KN95 and N95 masks work incredibly well but we wanted to see how well do it yourself cloth masks can perform. 

This same question whether cloth masks can protect was researched by scientists after the H1N1 pandemic.

The test was done with masks made by volunteers that made masks from cotton t-shirts and a sewing machine. Then researchers deployed bacteria at the masks to determine how much percentage of these particles the homemade cloth masks would capture.

Now keep in mind, the particles used were similar in size to anthrax and those are 1 micron or larger and Coronavirus particles are up to 10x smaller and can measure 0.1 micron so this is what concerns me about cloth masks and why this virus is spreading so rapidly and masks are pivotal in stopping its transmission. 

In the testing done, the DIY mask and Surgical mask was tested against the 1 micron particles and even at this much larger particle size the differences were quite noticeable so we can only imagine at the Coronavirus particle size this percentage of filtering would be much lower..

What other factors make a cloth mask potentially less effective?

One thing we haven’t talked about is how well these masks fit versus an N95 or KN95 masks. Researchers also did the testing with people wearing the masks and saw about a 10% drop in the filtering effects of both homemade masks and surgical masks. The reality is that these masks simply aren’t made to seal as effectively as an N95 or KN95 mask.

Summary

When you take into consideration the following, it seems to make more sense to use surgical masks, KN95, or N95 masks when possible. They clearly seal better, protect and filter much smaller particles at much higher percentages.

Once you consider the supposed cost advantages of a DIY mask it doesn’t exactly save as much money as thought if done correctly. Once you factor in that you are supposed to wash them after each use and consider your time, water, detergent, electricity, and just inconvenience what is the real cost benefit. More importantly, they simply don’t protect your health as well as the other masks that are actually engineered for stopping these particles and use specialized melt blown fabric and other materials to keep you safe.

In closing, I think having a full arsenal of masks in your home makes the most sense because if you are just going on a neighborhood walk and wanted to be courteous, a cloth mask seems quite enough but if you are going to a grocery store or any highly trafficked public area, a KN95 or equivalent seems to be your best choice. 

“It's not about making the right choice.
It's about making a choice and making it right.”

― J.R. Rim, Better to be able to love than to be loveable

Zackary Hurley - CEO OF N95 Medical Suppies