Comparing fabrics for COVID-19 face mask usage

As health experts tell us it's one of the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, the face mask market is booming. 

There are so many choices out there now, from functional to fashionable to homemade. But what criteria should we really be looking at when buying or making a mask? 

Scientists took a look at everyday materials to see which materials do the best job of filtering microscopic particles. 

Here are the items they say scored really well: 

  • HEPA furnace filters
  • Vacuum cleaner bags
  • Layers of 600-count pillowcases 
  • Fabric similar to flannel pajamas

Masks with stacked coffee filters scored in the medium range. And the lowest scores went to scarves and bandana material, but we're told they still capture a small percentage of particles. 

In another study, researchers say wearing the mask correctly making sure its snug and covers both your mouth and nose makes all the difference.

Not sure if your mask material was mentioned? Or want to do your own test at home?

A simple light test can help you decide whether a fabric is a good candidate for a mask.

If light passes really easily through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it's not a good fabric. You want to use a denser weave of thicker material that doesn't allow light to pass through as much.