Some Frequently Asked Questions

  • How protective will home made masks actually be?

These masks are less effective than medical masks such as an N95 or surgical mask.  However from all the evidence we have gathered shows that wearing this type of mask decreases the risk of respiratory viral transmission.  The benefit in terms of % effective will vary depending on the fabric used, the fitting of the mask and the care taken when applying/removing and cleaning as necessary.  IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER - THEY ARE NOT MEDICAL DEVICES AND ARE NOT DESIGNED TO BE DIRECT REPLACEMENTS.

For more information on this please read our Evidence links page.

  • Who should wear these masks?

This initiative has been created to support communities and protect the NHS.  By that we mean those members of the public who are engaging in essential social activities such as care for the elderly, food deliveries, medical deliveries and so on.  By using these masks we hope to slow down the rate of infection in the community and buy essential time for our NHS to care for patients and develop the long term solutions.

  • What fabric type do I need to use?

Ideally the fabric should be light in colour, so easier to see when it may become soiled.  Cotton or cotton blend fabrics are the most effective, those with a high thread count are best.  Pillowcases, sheets or t-shirts are good examples.  The high thread count is important but it also needs to be breathable.

  • What are the most effective home made mask patterns?

There are a vast number of designs available through the internet and we recommend using those that have some basic functions such as, a nose wire for best fit, an ability to insert and interchangeable filter paper (ie toilet roll or kitchen roll), using ties to secure as to allow for all head sizes thus avoiding elastics that may become over stretched and ineffective.  Also please consider creating sizes suitable for an adult or child.

  • How do I know the mask has been cleaned effectively?
Evidence suggests that after use, dispose of your filter insert safely and place the mask in a dry, away from reach place for a minimum of 4 hours.  This is because research has shown that this virus will not live for more than 4 hours on fabrics.