The results of the study were published in the journal “BMJ Open.”
Early in the pandemic, many were turning to homemade masks. Researchers studied those, too. Ones that are crafted with multiple layers of fabric were more effective. Others that had interfacing, which is typically used to stiffen collars, as well as multiple layers, showed notable performance improvement but it made them harder to breathe compared to an N95 mask.
Additionally, researchers studied how well different fabrics performed when damp and after washing and drying. They discovered fabrics worked well when damp and worked sufficiently after one laundry cycle. Previous studies showed continued washing deteriorates fabrics. When that happens, they should be replaced as researchers warn against using masks indefinitely.
“Fabric masks have become a new necessity for many of us since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” lead author Eugenia O’Kelly from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering said in a statement. “In the early stages of the pandemic, when N95 masks were in extremely short supply, many sewers and makers started making their own fabric masks, meeting the demands that couldn’t be met by supply chains, or to provide a more affordable option.”
The CDC recommends wearing them in public settings, including mass transit, events and gatherings.
“Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings,” the CDC said.
For more information on the study, including how researchers prepared and the limitations of the study, see the news release here.