A guide to buying (or making) a face mask for COVID-19

Though material masks provide only minimal protection against the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now advocate that everyone use them when leaving the house. The hope is that this low-risk, relatively simple intervention could make a dent in the spread of COVID-19 by individuals with no signs or extraordinarily mild ones.

But masks aren’t precisely straightforward to return by: Medical-grade ones are already in short supply for healthcare workers who want them, so healthy individuals shouldn’t even try to buy them. And in the wake of the CDC’s new suggestions, even non-medical material masks are sold out or backordered in many online stores. When you’re trying to figure out if and the way it is best to cover your face on your next essential journey out of the house—for a walk on an uncrowded street or to purchase obligatory groceries, as an illustration—right here’s a guide to all of your options.

Things to search for and keep away from when shopping for a cloth masks

Numerous crafters and makers, as well as firms that normally sell other material products, are now offering non-medical masks for sale. However not all of these masks are created equal. In case you’re ordering protective equipment on-line, here’s what to search for:

Do not purchase medical-grade, filtering masks unless you are immunocompromised or are caring for somebody sick with COVID-19. Hospitals are experiencing extreme shortages of these masks, and they aren’t shown to provide significant protection for healthy individuals.

Your mask ought to cover your nose and mouth and should have fastenings that maintain it firmly in place while you speak, move, and breathe. If you have to contact your face to adjust your mask, you risk exposing your nostril or mouth to germs.

Ideally, the mask should have some sort of adjustable band to reduce gaps between your nostril and your cheeks.

The simplest materials are water resistant and tightly-woven—not stretchy or sheer. A tightly-woven cotton is the subsequent finest thing, and your mask should have not less than two layers of it.

Your mask needs to be easy to sanitize by boiling or throwing within the washing machine. Which means it shouldn’t have material glues, delicate materials, or funky decorations (other than prints on the material). Embellishments like sequins (yes, there are people selling sequined masks right now) provide surfaces that viral particles can linger on for days.

In case you buy a fashionable cover to go over your masks—some stores are selling glittery fabric covers and chainmail overlays, for example—do not forget that this outer layer is being exposed to viral particles. You have to remove it and sanitize it just such as you would with the masks itself.

What a few balaclava or scarf?

Rachel Noble, a public health microbiologist at UNC at Chapel Hill, tells PopSci that balaclavas and other warm-weather gear designed to cover your nose and mouth are unlikely to be suitable for stopping the spread of COVID-19. Because they’re designed to be as easy to breath by means of as possible, they are usually made of loose fabrics.

“You want to choose a really, really tightly woven material,” Noble says. “We’re talking about something that’s approximately the density of the weave of a bandana, or a really high-quality bedsheet.”

Jersey fabrics, towels, and any textiles that stretch when you pull them are seemingly too loose, she says, as are most sweaters and different knit yarns. So when you really can’t sew or put together a masks with hair ties as described below, covering your nose and mouth with a bandana tied around your face is probably slightly more effective and easier to sanitize than a balaclava or wound-up scarf. But all of these workarounds are principally only useful in that they remind you to not touch your face and shield bystanders from the worst of your coughing and sneezing. In the event you’re coughing and sneezing, you should really be staying inside.

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