The Effectiveness of Homemade Fabric Masks at Reducing the Spread of Respiratory Infections


  • D. Dhaliwal
  • N. Rai
  • Roh S.
  • A. Szeto


COVID-19 is caused by a virus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus
2 (SARS-CoV-2), which has prompted people worldwide to wear masks as a preventative
measure against respiratory droplet transmission. Disposable masks are one of the most
commonly accepted forms of personal protective equipment (PPE). Over time, there was a
growing interest in homemade masks as alternatives. However, there are concerns surrounding
which type of fabric is most effective against respiratory droplets. To assess the effectiveness of
different fabric types (100% cotton, 100% polyester, an 80/20 cotton-polyester blend and
disposable masks as a control), we analyzed the percent cover of water that passed through these
fabrics. We hypothesized that the 80/20 cotton-polyester blend would be the least permeable to
water in comparison to the other fabric types, but still more permeable in comparison to the
control. These fabrics were tested by spraying water through them and recording the percent
cover of water that transferred through onto a grid piece of paper. From a one-way ANOVA test,
it was concluded that the different fabric types resulted in different permeabilities which aligned
with our hypothesis. This suggests that different fabric types do influence permeability.
Therefore, an 80/20 cotton-polyester blend is less permeable to water than 100% polyester which
is less permeable than 100% cotton. However, all of the fabric types were more permeable than
the disposable mask (control).