All Masks Not Created Equal


Hi All Nurses,

Can you recommend good homemade or cloth masks (if there are rules on here for not selling-- I get that, but if you have any suggestions on what to look for/where! Thanks. Does anyone know how effective they are? Thank you!

R. Severn

R. Severn

1 Post

Georgia Tech published info for making masks and a test with a spray bottle of water:
You can page back through their site and find mask patterns and comments on materials.
This site went around the nursing discussion boards back in March: They have some discussion on the effectiveness of various materials that homemade masks can be made from.
Those are the 2 resources I'm aware of.


64 Posts

When looking for a mask one of the most important things to consider is fitment. If the mask doesn't seal well it's arguably worse than nothing. Check for gaps by blowing air up, do you feel it on your eyebrows or eyelashes? How about to the side do you feel air on your cheeks? Those would be unacceptable.

The next thing I consider is the mask build. How many layers/ply are involved? What are these layers made of? More layers offer a higher probability of catching droplets and particulates in the air. The 'cloth' itself is important also. A woven item like cotton, on microscopic examination, offers patterns that line-up, (think.... like a chain link fence lets things through). You want materials that are NON WOVEN someplace in there, at least in one layer. These layers are produced in ways that microscopically they do not follow a pattern at all, every thread is different, there is no orientation at all, and your aerosolized particles are unlikely to find a straight-on path of least resistance into your airway.

Finally no use wearing a mask if we don't use our common sense and practice proper hygiene. If we wear a mask and then touch things in an at-risk environment, and then we bring those same things into the environment where we don't wear a mask and proceed to touch on them...well we've just contaminated ourselves and our environ AND have let down our guard, increasing the chance of a significant inoculation. THAT is why some who have stayed at home except for their essentials will still get sick because they don't decontaminate (properly hand wash, clean fomites etc) once they're home.

Over time its a losing battle; it's practically impossible to go out and about AND not contaminate eventually. The whole point is not for all of us to never get sick, but rather to avoid getting sick for as long as possible.

herring_RN, ASN, BSN

Specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical. Has 50 years experience. 3,651 Posts

I wear a cloth mask when out of the house to decrease the chance of infecting another person. I'm not sick, but could be carrying the virus and be asymptomatic. I am glad that, in my city, everyone wears a mask when less than six feet from anyone on sidewalks and in stores.

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 20 years experience. 4 Articles; 4,522 Posts

I have been making my own which consist of a standard bandana which is folded to create 9 layers there is a space between layer 6 and 7 to insert a coffee filter and it has ear loops sewn on. I am not sure if I can post a picture but if you send me a PM I'll walk you through it.