DIY face masks and coverings are an effective choice for environmental causes as many choose to re-use fabrics and are able to wash and re-use after wear. However, do these DIY masks actually protect us from the coronavirus?
DIY masks are actually a very useful option for a face covering by protecting yourself from those around you. They’re also a great option or the general public who aren’t medical professionals or work in a hospital. They’re cost-effective and a great sustainable option as they can be reused with every wash. However, there may be a few things hindering you from making and wearing an effective mask in terms of protection. If you’re thinking about making a DIY mask, you must do your research first on such as steps to how to make one, what materials to use and the do’s and don’ts when caring for your mask.
If filtration is what you’re worried about, DIY masks may not be the best option compared to those that are on the market. The World Health Organisation suggests that "face masks should be made out of three layers, including a centre layer of non-absorbent fibre or material, such as polypropylene." A reusable face mask with filter is a great option for coverability and protectiveness as a filter ensures added breath filtration which benefits those people around you.
When making a do-it-yourself mask, it’s important to choose fabrics that are breathable and comfortable on the face. You still want to be able to breathe under it and have the option to wear it comfortably for multiple hours. The fit of your mask is also very important for the effectiveness of your mask if it’s loose and slides down the face, the unfiltered breath can escape which would make it as effective to not wearing a mask at all. If your DIY face mask fits comfortably over the nose, mouth and chin with the use of elasticated ear loops or cotton ties, it can greatly aid the protectiveness of your mask against the virus.
Another thing to note when making and wearing DIY masks is washing them after use. The difference between disposable surgical masks and handmade cotton masks is that you generally throw away your surgical mask after using them. When wearing a disposable surgical mask, you can guarantee that every time you put on your mask it is fresh, well-fitting and effective. On the flip side, it is easy to get lazy when having to wash your DIY handmade mask after use, meaning many people fall into the trap of wearing used, soiled and therefore, ineffective masks. If you choose to make your own mask, we would suggest using fabrics such as light cotton which is breathable and can be machine washed and is quick-drying. It is also a good option to make multiple DIY masks so you can have many on rotation and have a fresh one available if another one needs to be washed. This way your sustainable face mask will actually do the job it is supposed to.
Storing your mask correctly is also something to be aware of, it is best to store your mask, DIY or otherwise, in a clean, dry place
If your DIY face mask ticks all these boxes, has filtration, made with breathable fabrics and are washed after use, then it can help aim the spread of coronavirus. Don’t forget to always wash your hands and remember to continue social distancing to protect those around you.