Homemade Face Masks Need At Least 2 Layers To Work, Study Says 

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Young Woman Wearing A Protective Face Mask Outside

Image by Ivan Gener / Stocksy

In the wake of COVID-19, wearing face masks as a preventive measure has become highly encouraged. Though cloth coverings are available to purchase, many people have used this as an opportunity to get crafty with DIY face masks. But are homemade masks effective? According to new research, it depends on how they're made. 

A new study published in the journal Thorax says in order to be effective, cloth face masks should be made with at least two layers of fabric.

What did the researchers find?

Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia compared the effectiveness of three different masks:

To track the differences, a healthy person was asked to cough, sneeze, and speak while wearing each mask. To see how far respiratory droplets would spread, researchers used an LED-light and high-speed video camera. 

They found the three-ply mask was the most effective at preventing the spread, but the double-layer mask was still more effective than a single layer. 

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What does this mean?

This research is not recommending people stop making homemade face masks altogether. In fact, personal protective equipment has been in short supply in the past, and "We need to make sure our health care workers have masks first," integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., tells mbg.

In the case of surgical mask shortages, a homemade cloth face covering with at least two layers is preferable to a single-layer one, the study says. 

For those who are making homemade masks, consider using cotton and chiffon, which may be most effective.

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