Efficiency of handmade cotton masks in fight with COVID-19

Eventful year

2020 has been quite EVENTFUL and we are just finishing off its first quarter. End of 2019 and the start of 2020 was devastating for Australia because of the outrageous bushfires that not only destroyed millions of acres of forests and land, but also took the lives of many brave firefighters and beautiful native animals. As we were getting ready to celebrate the end of bushfires, a new virus started knocking on our doors. What a YEAR twenty twenty is going to be!

What we can do

As you might be aware, a new deadly virus known as COVID-19 attacks our respiratory system causing difficulty in breathing. The World Health Organization has mentioned that COVID-19 is highly contiguous and easily transmitted from human to human. As all countries in the world are facing deadly virus outbreak, each of us can do our best to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is not as difficult as it might seem.

  • First of all, maintaining social distance of 1.5 metres is essential. 
  • Next, we all should keep personal hygiene by washing our hands with soap thoroughly (20 seconds at least) and avoid touching our face/nose with unwashed hands. 
  • Another step that must be taken into consideration is wearing protective gear that filters the virus.

Unfortunately, the worldwide cases of COVID-19 is increasing dramatically and health care workers are in more need of the protective wear than we are, which explains the lack of masks at pharmacies right now. The World Health Organization noted that the highest protection from COVID-19 is provided by N95 respirators, while single use surgical masks are comparably effective too. As these respirators and masks are much needed at hospitals, most of the general public is left with minimum or no masks at all.


Handmade cotton masks

 It is becoming increasingly popular to wear DIY face shields or masks which can provide comparably good protection from various viruses and keep us safe when combined with other measurements such as maintaining good hygiene and social distancing.

There are so many questions about homemade face masks that need to be clarified before you buy and start wearing one.

Does it really help?

It should be understood that handmade face masks will not be as effective as N95 respirators or surgical masks, which must be worn when working with patients infected with COVID-19. Some hospitals started asking the society to donate handmade face masks which are prepared following special guidelines to offer highest protection. DIY masks made of right fabric might not be medically graded but they provide at least some protection from airborne viruses and work as a reminder not to touch your face. World Health Organization noted that COVID-19 stays in the air for up to three hours, which puts anyone walking without any face shield into great peril. 

What material should be used for DIY face masks?

Researchers at Cambridge University conducted a study comparing protection provided by various materials against microparticles acting as viruses. It was concluded that surgical masks were on the top offering 97% protection, followed by vacuum cleaning bag and 100% cotton with relatively good protection. Tightly woven 100% organic cotton works the best to filter the airborne viruses offering good protection and easy breathability. Double layered face mask is considered to work even better than just single layer. 

Can I reuse handmade masks?

The best part of wearing a DIY mask made of 100% cotton is that you don't have to chuck it in the bin after 3 hours. Once you wear it, avoid touching the front of the mask and remove it carefully by the elastic earbands. Then you can wash it in warm water with regular soap and rinse it thoroughly. Some people even boil it in water for 2-3 minutes or pour boiling water on top of it to send all the viruses back to where they come from. Afterwards, you can dry your mask under the sun as sun is the one of the top virus killers and iron it for a crisp look. It is best to try tightly woven organic cotton fabric since it doesn’t fade and doesn’t shrink, which saves you from ending up with too small or not-so-good-looking mask after a wash.

Can I enhance protection of DIY masks?

This can be done easily by adding an extra layer of similar fabric with good filtering and easy breathability features. Remember that your mask should offer good protection and be comfortable to wear at the same time. Having too many layers might make it difficult to breath and cause breathing problems even without the virus being involved.

Where to find DIY face masks?

COVID-19 outbreak has made face masks, hand sanitizers and toilet paper such a rare thing to find. In many countries health authorities started asking the general public not to buy N95 respirators and surgical masks so health care workers who have direct contact with infected patients have professional protective gear. Because of this and because of the extremely high price of single use masks, many of us started looking for reusable face masks that won’t hurt our budget. There are many tutorials where various designs are offered. Also, you can find many options of face masks to buy here. Remember that your reusable handmade face mask should be made following the guidelines and using appropriate fabric. 

It is very important that we do our best to save our beautiful world from falling apart at these challenging times for all of us. By keeping social distance, maintaining good hygiene and wearing masks we can stop the spread of COVID-19. Also, by buying from small businesses we can support them at this critical time. Remember that only by acting collaboratively we can change the situation. Let good health, lots of love and huge patience be with you all the time. 

 Stay safe!