General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

What type of face masks should we use and where can you get them?

Asked by LostInParadise (29658points) April 4th, 2020
32 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

According to this article, when we go outside we should wear non-medical face masks. It says that all we need is a cloth covering, and that a bandana would be sufficient. Is that right? It seems that a specifically designed mask would be easier to use than a bandana and would look less weird. Do you use masks? Where can you get them?

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zenvelo's avatar

Following hoping for a good answer from others. I ordered a 5 pack of washable cloth (nylon/cotton) masks this week, but they won’t be delivered until the end of next week.

I have not found any masks (cloth, paper, disposable) available in stores.

chyna's avatar

@canidmajor is making them!

janbb's avatar

I bought one from a woman who was making and selling them on You can make your own from a bandana or scarf and hair ties. Let me see if I can find the link. I think getting some pleats in is a good idea. The surgical ones should be left for healthcare workers.

Here’s some instructions but there are many links online for making them at home. Obviously surgical ones are best but these are supposed to help:

ucme's avatar

I still have a Planet of the Apes mask from when I was a kid & am genuinely thinking of using it.
I am not monkeying around here!

LadyMarissa's avatar

This HEPA filter homemade mask is one that seems to make sense to me. This guy claims that he’s a doctor & his wife created it. Since I don’t know either of those involved, I can’t vouch for their honesty, but I do like the idea of the HEPA filter that should protect to 99.9%. I don’t like the idea of a bandana either & I’ve been looking for a safer alternative. I did read to stay away from cotton fabric because cotton won’t filter enough out. I did see a video where some man took his wife’s sanitary pad with wings & it sealed perfectly around his nose & mouth. I don’t like that idea either & hope it was a joke!!! My main problem is that I can’t use one arm or hand so I’m very limited what I can tie on. I have a friend who is making some masks that are better than nothing although they might not be perfect. I’ve forwarded the HEPA filter idea to her to see what she thinks.

Not wanting to leave home, I’d think that Etsy might be a good place to find homemade masks but I fear they won’t be made with the hand washing, no germ spreading care that someone who knows you might do!!!

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LadyMarissa's avatar

This is what our Surgeon General recommends.

JLeslie's avatar

The only thing that makes me nervous about a bandana is if you take it off to re-tie it and you inadvertently switch which side of the cloth is against your face. Then you might be putting virus on your nose and mouth. The face masks being sewn aren’t reviewable, you can tell which side is the outside, although you can still screw it up, it’s not foolproof.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie Whichever mask you wear should be washed after every use in hot water.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The evidence that it works is pretty equivocal. (i.e. open to doubt)

This article from Ars Technica (not spam) link basically says something is better than nothing, according to anecdotal evidence and some 10 year old surveys, but something like a handkerchief is at best 15% or so effective.

But the trick now is – where you can get them TODAY?

canidmajor's avatar

If anyone in your house sews, and there is facing in their supplies, a layer or two will increase protection by a lot, as it is non-woven fabric, and so passes much less teeny stuff.
The recommendation is in place to stop droplets, as most cotton fabrics, if multilayered, will provide most of the protection a regular person will reasonably need if quickly and efficiently running a few necessary errands.

ETA Even a paper coffee filter (if inserted into the folds of the cloth) will increase protection, as it is also non-woven.

janbb's avatar

@elbanditoroso Make them. See link above. Or look for a friend who sews or try CraigsList or Nextdoor for someone who might be making and selling them. You probably won’t find them commercially and if you do, they should go to health care professionals.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Of course.

That is not what I was talking about. I’m talking about a bandanna loosening while you wear it. Or using a scarf that might slip down and someone readjusts it. Just saying THINK while wearing them.

I can see a man opening the knot, taking it off, maybe not really paying close attention, and refitting it in the reverse. And, yes, I do accuse men of being more absent minded about this sort of thing. Many of us wives are complaining about how men seem to not be able to understand how aware they need to be about what they touch and then touch next. They try, but then they lose focus more often for some reason. Goes along with almost every study ever done about men vs women and washing hands or understand chain of germ exposure. It’s probably why men are getting sick more. That’s just a hypothesis of mine though, there might easily be other reasons. Maybe they are still working more or something in the genes.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie You sound like you are looking for reasons to argue. Some people won’t wear a cloth mask, because, like @elbanditoroso, they figure it won’t do enough. Some people will do it wrong. Lots of people are probably not washing their hands the way you think they should.

Anything that helps, helps. You can’t monitor everyone.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I was told that I can use a scarf. I have a tube scarf that I will use if needed. Will wash once a week.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor I’m not arguing, I’m pointing something out to HELP people be aware that this is a mistake they could make. Don’t address me about my intention, my intention is ALWAYS to be helpful. Just know that for the future and you won’t have to accuse me of such things.

I’m not trying to control how people do things, I’ve made mistakes too inadvertently and realize later. We are all doing our best.

SEKA's avatar

The Surgeon Geleral shows us how to make a bandana mask. It looks better than I was thinking when I first heard of it

JLeslie's avatar

Good link. I just noticed Marissa had linked it too.

Jonsblond's avatar

Would anyone be willing to donate one to me? I’m at work right now (grocery) and HR just told us we are finally allowed to wear masks. I need something comfortable to wear for 8 hours and I don’t have the resources to make one. It can’t be a bandana.

janbb's avatar

I just looked on Amazon and was surprised to see that they have a number of types for sale.

Brian1946's avatar

My flea-control tech gave me a new cloth mask, but it flattens my nose to the extent that it partially obstructs my breathing.

If one is available, I recommend getting a cloth mask that has a rigid nose bubble, and straps to the back of your head and neck, instead of your ears.

My desire not to inhale smoke from our numerous wildfires, drove me to get two N95 masks in Autumn, 2017. They both have exhalation flaps, so the respiration is quite comfortable.

A few years before that, I bought the same type of N95 to avoid inhaling dust when I shook out my mats. I tried washing it in my machine, and it took a beating.

If you’re completely oblivious to public perception, you could cut out eye holes in 2 or 3 pillowcases, and voila! ;-p

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The evidence that it works is pretty equivocal. (i.e. open to doubt)

Something that stuck with me after readin it years ago – masks aren’t so effective for one person to avoid catching diseases. Masks ARE very helpful to stop the spread IF most everyone wears one. They are good for stopping you from infecting others.

But good luck selling mask use to Americans as a social good instead of personal protection.

Anyhooo – where to get one?

This is just one of the countless results on Google for DIY masks:
How to make a homemade face mask, with or without sewing

I was pleased to see a suggestion that blue paper shop towels are a good material. I have a couple of rolls of that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay The more it becomes commonplace the more people will do it and the more it will become shameful to not wear one. I don’t know if you tried my link where it shows the stats for the countries that employed mask use. The numbers are dramatic. I don’t know if we can be sure it’s all due to the masks there might be other reasons too.

Plus, bacteria are larger than virus, so maybe those are blocked more, I don’t know this for a fact, just thinking out loud, and it’s good to stay healthy period right now. Plus, pollution will be blocked, maybe even pollen, which keeps your lungs healthier, so it seems like there are multiple reasons why the mask might help the indivisible wearing it. Again, I’m mostly thinking out loud, I’m not a scientist.

kritiper's avatar

If and when I start wearing one, I will make it out of small hand towels. Just fold them up and use rubber bands to hold them to my face.

JLeslie's avatar

Typo: individual not indivisible.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I like the patterned masks I see. I don’t know if that’s a style choice or simply using whatever handkerchief or scarf is at hand.

I wish I had a factory to make masks. I would be working on fashion prints and kid themes like dinosaurs and robots.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I have this type of snood. The one time I was out after covid was first announced, I wore the snood with a crinkle scarf wrapped over it and m y whole head.
I had one eye exposed, lol.
I also wore surgical gloves. When my ride arrived she too was wearing surgical gloves.
She pointed out that doctors were saying regular crew Loth would not help. I told her if she were auto immune, she too would take extra measures just in case. I figured with enough layers (at least four that day), the wretched germs would get lost and disoriented.

Cupcake's avatar

I got masks from a friend that are 3 layers of cotton and have a stuffable filter pouch. I bought 2 rolls of blue shop towels to stuff the masks with. I would love a HEPA filter, but I feel pretty good about what we have.

mazingerz88's avatar

Didn’t read posts above. To the OP, nice if bandanas are enough when going outside. But I feel better wearing a medical mask in a grocery store. In and out no hanging around.

This week I got lucky getting one N95 mask. Needed it badly since I’m exposed to people that’s very high risk. Great mask compared to the other one I was using.

Jonsblond's avatar

@janbb I just looked on Amazon and can’t find anything that will arrive before June 1.

Edit: anything that has the appropriate materials/filters.

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