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Homemade masks


Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

I read that surgical masks are 3 times more effective than homemade masks. But something is better than nothing, especially when working in the homes, private duty.

There are a lot of patterns floating around. Maybe someone else could post them for me; I can't get it to work.

I do have some ideas to improve them. What do you think?

You know how underwire bras have a wire that could be removed if you opened one side? Could you make a mask that puffs out a little from the face - like the regular ear-loop masks, and then attach two seams that would make an "X" over the outside of the mask? I could slide craft wire through those seams - like the way the wire in an underwire bra slides in - and bend the wires to hold the mask out a little. Sort of like a frame. A mask that covers the face closely will quickly get damp. Once wet, the germs get wicked right in. This idea might keep the mask from getting wet so fast. Be more comfortable, too. The wires could easily be removed to wash the mask.

If you could make a tiny pocket to hold the metal nose-piece, I could save you some from used masks. If possible, a mask that seals somewhat at the side of the face would be good.

If you made a mask with two layers, a thin HEPA filter could go between the layers. The flat HEPA furnace filters come in a cardboard frame. You could cut the filter out of the frame - they're 20 inch X 20 inch. If the two layers in the mask allowed this filter to be inserted and removed for cleaning, maybe the mask would work better?

From what I've read, surgical masks (the ones with ties) are 3 times more efficient that homemade masks, but a homemade mask is much better than nothing

Katillac, RN

Has 18 years experience.

I think you should try several different designs if you have material and skills! The critical piece that home made masks won't have is a special filter that's heat spun? heat formed? (can't remember the term). I think a piece of furnace filter is a great idea, if the mask is still able to be laundered. Any barrier is better than no barrier, and something that keeps it away from the nose is better than just cloth against the nose and mouth. Keep us posted with the best design you find!

Check out the videos on fabricpatch.net under "face masks for covid-19 relief".

Katillac, RN

Has 18 years experience.

For those who may be wondering, home made masks (which should really be called just face coverings) are primarily meant to stop virus-carrying large droplets from being spewed from the mouth of the wearer and being transported to the mouth or nose of the uninfected. Those droplets can be expelled when speaking, singing or laughing in addition to coughing or sneezing.

Additionally, studies show a two layer tightly woven cotton face covering prevents approximately 50% of large droplet viral particles from reaching the wearer from an infected source. More protection is achieved by a third non-woven layer in the middle.

In neither case is the protection as good as a quality manufactured surgical or procedure mask, and is far from as good as a properly fitted N95 mask.