As the world recovers from the effects of Covid19, we begin to emerge from our protective shelters to re-enter society. These are new territories that we'll have to navigate. And what this new world will look like is yet to be revealed.
One thing that will remain in our everyday lives, is the presence of face masks. And while a mask does not fully protect the wearer from encountering bacteria, it does help stop the spread of droplets that wearer may project, protecting the rest of the world.
Knowing what we do about the spread of Covid19, and how non-symptomatic people can spread the virus through their water droplets, wearing a mask is one selfless act people can do to protect those around them.
My issue isn't with the mask themselves. I love seeing all the sewers around the world banding together to alleviate pressure off the supply chain, allowing proper medical masks to go to those in the front line. Washable masks reduce the amount of garbage that disposable masks create.
But the wrong mask can pose dangerous health risks.
Synthetic Blends vs Cotton Fabric
Cotton fabrics are every sewer's dream. They're sturdy, they don't slip and they come in so many cool prints. But if you have the option of choosing a fabric that is 100% cotton vs a Synthetic Blend, like Polyester/Cotton or 100% Polyester, I suggest opting for the fabric with Polyester.
Cotton absorbs moisture like a sponge, leaving the skin feeling wet. This contributes to the growth of bacteria. Ever pulled off smelly tube socks at the end of the day? That smell is caused by the bacteria that's made a home out of the perfect conditions within your sweaty and warm socks. Socks with Polyester or Nylon smell less because these fibres wick moisture away from the body, and less porous, reducing places for bacteria to grow.
Cotton fabrics also tend to be loosely woven, especially the less expensive fabrics, making for a less than optimal barrier.
Draw String vs Elastic
Elastic is inexpensive, adjustable and keeps things nice and tight. But the downside to elastic, especially around the ears, is that it irritates the skin. The stretching and retracting rubs right in the corner, where the ear meets the head. And, after a day of wearing it, people are less likely to want to wear it again. Or worse, they spend all day touching it with dirty hands (or gloved hands, which are even dirtier than washed hands).
With a Drawstring system, you still get the adjustability. Since the drawstring sits at the back of the neck and ties up at the top of the head, there are less tight spots that will be rubbed the wrong way, helping to forget it's even on the face
Sewn-in Filters vs Removable Filter
It's suggested to have 3 layers of material to act as a filter. Having the option to remove the inner filter layer, replacing it with fresh napkins or swatches of fabrics sounds like a good idea...unless, of course, you're forgetting to wash the mask itself.
After a while, bacteria will grow on all layers of the mask, but putting fresh filters gives the world a false sense of security. The mouth touches the inner side of a mask. So that must be washed too.
Don't opt for the removable filters, it's wasteful and ineffective. Wash the mash in warm soapy water and wear it again with confidence.