Updated: May 15, 2020
First off - Disclaimer: These masks do not replace medical grade masks. If you are able to get your hands on proper medical grade masks rather go that route.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we will earn a small commission.
Now there are so many theories on face #mask use and the #corona virus. Some people say only wear them if you are sick, yet so many people carrying the virus don't even know they're infected so I'm not sure how that makes us feel. Some say that you shouldn't purchase them so that enough remain accessible to healthcare workers who really need them. I understand that but I must be honest my real reason for researching an effective DIY face mask was based purely on lack of medical grade masks being on the market. Weeks out of our lockdown we simply could not find them in any store.
One fact that all experts agree on is a face mask seems to prevent people from touching their own face. That alone could save you from catching #Covid-19.
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission.
In our research we looked at the following factors:
Is it cheap to make?
For those of us stuck in a lockdown, can we find this stuff lying around our home?
Easy to Make
No great sewing skills needed. Last thing I need is a technical conundrum.
Level of Protection
Is there sound research backing the design and contents?
I don't have time or enough t-shirts to make one of these every time I use it. Can I wash and reuse without degrading the level of protection?
We looked at various Institutes and experiments but the one that made the most sense to us was Cambridge University who fired Bacillus atrophaeus bacteria (0.93-1.25 microns) and Bacteriophage MS virus (0.023 microns in size) at different materials you would typically find around the house. Comparing the results to a surgical mask they measured to see what materials held up the best:
1 Micron Particle:
Surgical Mask: 97%
Vacuum Cleaner Bag: 95%
Dish Towel/Tea Cloth: 83%
Cotton Blend T-shirt: 74%
100% Cotton T-shirt: 69%
So these results were super encouraging right! Only one problem - #coronavirus is just 0.1 microns – ten times smaller. So the scientists got back to work and tested 0.02 micron Bacteriophage MS2 particles (5 times smaller than the coronavirus)
0.02 Micron Particle:
Surgical Mask: 89%
Vacuum Cleaner Bag: 86%
Dish Towel/Tea Cloth: 73%
Cotton Blend T-shirt: 70%
100% Cotton T-shirt: 51%
Whats interesting here is the 100% cotton t-shirt dropped its protection while the pillowcase proved to be better than the scarf.
Breathability is more than comfort. It determines how long you could effectively wear a mask. It can also influence your oxygen intake and potentially increase your carbon dioxide intake which can be dangerous. So the scientist measured each of the items against the Surgical Mask to see how breathable they were:
Vacuum Cleaner Bag: - 104%
Dish Towel/Tea Cloth: -38%
Cotton Blend T-shirt: -28%
Surgical Mask: 0%
100% Cotton T-shirt: +8%
So here you can see the vacuum bag, although offering the greatest protection is practically impossible to breathe through. We actually thought our odds would be better with a dish towel but after trying to breathe through one of them for more than 5 minutes we got super dizzy, so that was a no-go.
The Pillow case or 100% cotton t-shirt were chosen by the University researchers as the best options. But DadiDeal felt the 100% cotton t-shirt results on the 0.02 micron was a little low so we took matters into our own hand and found a t-shirt with a high cotton content and a little stretch. So a blend but predominantly cotton. This gave us the protection, comfort and the breathability we wanted.
Taking it a Step Further
Hong Kong University did a great experiment on a DIY mask where they proved that a common kitchen paper towel added a remarkable amount of protection and absorption level - up to 23%. So we decided to double up on our Cotton blend t-shirt by creating a pouch where we could insert a filter. By inserting our kitchen paper towel it increased protection and kept the mask reusable as the filter can easily be discarded after use.
This is what you’ll need:
Cotton Blend T-shirt - choose one with the highest cotton%
Sewing machine or sewing needle and cotton