How Effective Are Cloth Masks With Filters?

You can’t go into any retail store without finding a spinning rack or display of colorful, washable cloth face masks. In early 2020, you were hard pressed to find a face covering anywhere, but since that time mask mandates have caused manufacturers to rise to the occasion, producing face coverings of every style, color, and design. 

More important than finding a cute cotton face mask that fits your personality, however, is finding a mask that fits you properly and one that is effective in protecting you and others from spreading illness without taking needed N95 respirators or medical-grade surgical masks from healthcare workers. Even if a mask has your favorite sports team, if it isn’t protective, it’s little more than a fashion accessory. 

So how can you know which masks are effective? What about reusable face masks with mask filter pockets? Are they more protective than regular cloth face coverings? 

The mask discussion is confusing, and we understand it’s easy to get frustrated. At Hope Health Supply, we want to give you the information you need to make informed decisions about which masks work best and how you can keep yourself and others protected. 

Do Face Masks Provide Protection Against COVID-19?

We’re all looking for ways to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends certain measures that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Practicing good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash for 20 seconds. When you can’t wash your hands, use a CDC-approved hand sanitizer.

  • Practicing social distancing. When you are around others that do not live in your household, maintain a distance of six feet or more. 

  • Cleaning and sanitizing frequently used surfaces, like your smartphone, and doorknobs.

  • Avoiding touching your face.

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes. Even when wearing a mask with several layers of fabric, be sure to sneeze and/or cough into your elbow.

  • Staying home when you are sick. If you aren’t feeling well, stay home and avoid being around others as much as possible. 

  • Wearing a face mask. Wearing face masks and coverings helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by protecting you and others from respiratory droplets that carry the disease. 

COVID-19 is passed from person to person mostly via respiratory droplets that enter the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, speaks, or sings. Wearing a face mask helps reduce the amount of respiratory droplets that enter the air, keeping both you and others better protected. 

While you can find a face mask made from practically any material, there are definitely some that perform better than others.

What Types of Masks Are Available?

The CDC offers guidance on the wearing of face masks, as well as offering information about which face masks work most effectively. 

  • Surgical and N95 masks. While these types of masks are extremely effective in filtering respiratory droplets. N95 masks provide the highest level of filtration efficiency, provided they have a secure fit to the wearer’s face. Because surgical and N95 masks are in short supply, the CDC recommends non-medical personnel refrain from using them, so that healthcare and frontline workers have access to them when they need them. 

  • Non-medical disposable masks. Non-medical disposable masks are a great option for users who prefer a non-reusable mask. These masks are lightweight, breathable, and usually available in 2-3 ply with layers of polypropylene, like the ones we offer at Hope Health Supply. The benefit of a non-reusable mask is that you discard it daily or after every use. There’s less chance of a disposable mask being used while it is soiled, as the user will likely just throw it away and replace it with a clean one after a trip to the grocery store. 

  • Cloth masks. A fabric mask (preferably with several layers of cotton) is effective provided the material is tightly woven (high thread count), and the mask fits properly on the wearer’s face. A cloth mask may not seem like it’s doing much, but research has shown they are effective in blocking up to 80% of respiratory droplets, when worn properly. It is often machine washable and reversible, and at the beginning of the pandemic, was often made with common household materials like t-shirts and bandanas. 

  • Cloth masks with filters. A cloth mask with a filter seems like a great way to add an extra layer of protection to a basic cotton fabric cloth mask. A cloth mask with a filter has a pocket into which is placed a filter, usually made from activated carbon, or even in the case of homemade mask, a HEPA or even coffee filter. The trouble with cloth masks with filters, is that the filters haven’t been properly studied to determine whether or not the filter material is safe for continual inhalation. While the filter may help block respiratory droplets, the risk of inhaling particles from the filter may make some users leery of wearing these masks. A better option than a cloth mask with a filter is a KN95 mask.

  • KN95 masks. If you’re looking for the most protection you can get in a non-medical mask, the KN95 is your best option. KN95 masks have up to a 95% filtration rate, which is higher than the filtration rate of a cloth mask or a non-medical disposable mask. They also often have special materials and several inner layers and outer layers, with adjustable nose wires on the nose-bridge to help secure fit and reduce fogging. KN95 masks are comfortable, disposable, breathable face masks, and do not need to be custom fitted to the wearer’s face. These masks are a great option for people who would choose to wear an N95 mask but are doing their part to leave those for medical personnel and first responders. The KN95 is the next best thing available.

When Should I Wear a Mask?

The CDC recommends that you wear a mask in public, when you are around people who do not live in your household, and when you are unable to practice social distancing outdoors. If you’ve got a mask that fits comfortably, it shouldn’t be difficult to wear your mask when needed. 

A cloth mask with a filter may be slightly more effective than a traditional cloth mask without a filter, but you shouldn’t use one if wearing it makes you uncomfortable or makes it hard for you to breathe. 

Instead, you can choose another option, like the KN95. These masks are known for breathability while still providing the ultimate in filtration of respiratory droplets. These masks offer superior protection and effectiveness to a traditional cloth mask and are available from Hope Health Supply at a price you can afford. 

Shopping with Hope Health Supply

We know you have options not only in mask choice, but also in mask suppliers. During the pandemic, we’ve seen two unfortunate trends in the health and wellness supply industry:

  • Consumer hoarding. This happens when consumers panic and buy more of a product than they need or can even use. 

  • Price gouging. This occurs when the supply chain cannot keep up with demand and retailers raise prices on items that are most in need.

If you’re tired of feeling the need to spend money on excessive amounts of products in fear you won’t be able to find them later, we can help. Hope Health Supply has numerous personal protective items in stock and ready to ship

You’ll also never have to worry about mile high prices with us. No matter the demand, our goal is to keep our prices fair. We believe personal protective supplies, like masks, should be available and accessible to all. 

COVID-19 is an ongoing battle, but we’re in this together and we can all do our part. Protecting yourself and others is easy when you shop with your trusted personal protective equipment supplier, Hope Health Supply.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/Young_Mitigation_recommendations_and_resources_toolkit_03_HS.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html