When choosing between a fabric or surgical mask, there are a few things to take into consideration before comparing the two. Thinking of N-95 masks? Well, these really aren’t a part of the equation, as the CDC recommends that these are specifically reserved for healthcare workers. When we say surgical masks, we’re talking about the standard blue and white masks. Masks act as protective measures against droplets of SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that becomes COVID-19. So, which is better? Let’s take a closer look at the two types of masks to determine which is the more informed choice for you and your family.
For fabric masks, the best kind to use are designed with double layers including a cotton outer and a flannel inside.
Better Filtration: The Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine found that fabric masks made of heavyweight quilter’s cotton (with a thread count of 180 or higher) showcased 79% filtration. Surgical masks had filtration percentages ranging from 62% to 65%. They also found that, on the whole, thinner masks were less effective in providing reliable filtration. Alongside them, Duke researchers determined that bandanas and neck gaiters were some of the worst types of masks.
Eco-Friendly: Fabric masks are easy to care for and can be used many many times. After wear, it’s simple to sanitize your masks so they’ll be clean when you’re ready to leave your home. This is not the case with surgical masks, which are only good for one wear. They’re made for use in healthcare environments, so naturally nurses, doctors, and other staff would not keep these masks for future use. With fabric masks, you aren’t producing waste either. You’ve probably seen a surgical mask lying in a grocery store parking lot or elsewhere. You’ll be more inclined to hold onto your fabric masks, so you won’t be a part of the problem!
More Costly: You may have found that a box of surgical masks is less expensive than purchasing fabric masks. This may seem like a better buy, but in reality, you’ll go through that box faster than you think! Because they’re single use, you won’t be able to get much wear of out them. This is especially true if you need masks for kids, as they’ll contribute to the swindling supply in the box. In no time you’ll be right back to buying another box of surgical masks. It’s a better choice in the long run to choose fabric.
Clean Use Each Time: When you choose surgical masks, they typically come in a box or multi-pack. Since they’re single use, you will always have a clean mask at the ready. With fabric masks, it takes more effort to remember to wash and sanitize them after wear.
Cost-Efficient: When you’re on a budget, these can be a decent option when purchased in bulk. If you work in a public place and need to constantly rotate cleans masks, these may be the best choice. There won’t be the need to remember to wash your masks, but rather dispose of your old one and take a fresh mask along with you to work or out to run errands. However, you will likely find that you’re burning through these at a rapid pace. These are more cost-efficient than fabric masks at the beginning, but if you use them a lot, they may even out cost-wise.
Subpar Filtration: While surgical masks are inexpensive, they do not provide the best protection you can get. With filtration percentages from 62% to 65%, these masks are not your best line of defense against droplets, which can get you sick. True enough that these are better than nothing, you will be better protected when you choose double layer fabric face masks.
In comparison to surgical masks, fabric masks are the better choice for everyday people that are not healthcare workers. Not only do they provide better filtration, but they’re washable and can be integrated into your wardrobe. Whether you make your own or purchase them, fabric face masks can be sized to fit you and your kids’ faces just right, which you won’t find in surgical masks. If you have a knack for crafting, consider shopping our selection of 100% cotton fabric to create your own masks. We even have an easy to follow guide for crafting masks right at home! Many of our mask fabrics are cost-friendly, so you can find patterns you like to create your own without needing to leave your home. Unlike surgical masks, these can be personalized to suit your unique personality. We walk you through the entire crafting process, so your masks fit well and look great. We also provide mask care instructions so you can effectively sanitize the fabric! If you’d rather not create your own, there are many worthwhile fabric masks on the market today. There exist tons of fabrics with beautiful solid colors or patterns featuring your favorite sports team, pop culture references, or brand names.
So, are surgical masks just plain useless? Not entirely so! Sometimes, we forget our masks at home. You may have already been halfway to the store and realized that your fabric mask is still drying! This may be an instance where keeping an extra fabric mask or a few surgical masks in your car’s glove box would be ideal. This way, you always have some form of mouth and nasal protection. Remember to stay conscious of touching your mask so you don’t transfer harmful bacteria from the surfaces you touch onto your mask!