Last updated on 30 December 2020
A face mask with filter pocket offers better protection
Amsterdam, NL. Since June 1, the use of a non-medical face mask is mandatory in restricted indoor spaces where social distancing is not practicable- such as trains and buses.
While you can purchase disposable masks in every station, over time their use can become expensive - and frankly, it isn’t great for the environment.
That is why many choose a reusable washable face mask.
Do reusable face masks protect me against the coronavirus?
The first important thing to remember: non-medical face masks are not meant to protect you against the virus. Their role is to prevent the droplets that you expel while talking or sneezing from spreading through the air. If everyone in your group wears a mask, the risk of infection becomes very low.
By itself, a regular cotton washable face mask is not very effective at protecting you.
Are there any specific reusable face masks that protect me better?
You could opt for a face mask with filter. This type of reusable face mask includes a pocket where you can insert a disposable filter, made of any material of your choice. While it won’t ensure the same level of protection of an FFP3 or N95, it can be more effective than a regular fabric face mask depending on which material your filter is made of.
Which materials do a better job at filtering?
Smart Air performed an extensive test back in April, where they compared the ability of different materials at filtering 0.3-micron particles, which is approximately the size of the smallpox virus. The COVID-19 coronavirus measures 0.06-0.14 microns by itself and 5-10 microns when in water droplets.
Material for the mask
Washable face masks are usually made of cotton, such as the one used for bed sheets. While better than nothing, a sheet made of 100% cotton is able to filter just around 20% of particles. For comparison: a surgical mask is able to filter 75%; a N95 mask is effective at 96%.
Materials that can be used as a mask filter
Another interesting outcome of the test performed by Smart Air is that a sheet of kitchen towel filters 48% of particles; while coffee filters can be effective up to 82%.
You might ask yourself: a coffee filter might be good at filtering, but can I actually breathe through it? It is in fact rather difficult. As the test of Smart Air finds out, the materials which are best at filtering are also the worst in terms of breathability. You can find the full data here.
In the end, it is all about finding a material that balances filtration and breathability: paper towel, 100% cotton bed sheets (80-120 thread) and even denim are the materials that, among the ones tested, offer the best compromise. Especially when applied on several layers, these materials are effective options for a reusable face mask.
A reusable face masks with filter that is also fashionable
At Mondkatjes we design washable face masks made of several layers of 100% cotton, ensuring great breathability.
Each fabric face mask comes with a generous pocket where you can store a filter of your choice for better protection.
You can use a homemade filter such as the ones in the test, or buy one. Fitting the filter into the mask is quick and easy: