New research suggests that these are two of the most effective materials when it comes to blocking COVID-19 germs.

By Nashia Baker
April 23, 2020
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Other than practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask in public is currently considered to be the best way to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, as covering your nose and mouth both protects you from breathing in or spreading any germs related to COVID-19. But since medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) should still be reserved for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers treating patients with COVID-19, the average American is either creating their own fabric face mask or purchasing one from retailers across the country. That begs the question: Which type of fabric should you be looking for when sewing or choosing a mask? According to a new study by the Smart Air organization, canvas and denim reign supreme when it comes to blocking out coronavirus germs, Huffington Post reports.

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To assess which fabrics were the most breathable while also being effective at stopping coronavirus particles from entering our systems, the corporation tested about 30 different materials commonly being used to create homemade masks; these included bra pads, coffee filters, and cotton T-shirts. After using a system made popular by Cambridge University researchers, the Smart Air professionals blew air through each fabric to see how well each type filtered out large and small particles and to test their breathability.

After noting the virus' particle size, 0.06-0.14 microns and five to ten microns when found in droplets, the researchers discovered that denim and canvas are the fabrics best-suited to blocking out the germs while still being breathable enough for consistent wear. They're not your only options, though: If you don't have either of these fabrics handy, the study also found that laying shirts made of 100 percent cotton will also help keep you safe from the virus.

The company hopes that this testing will help clear the air on the best preventative measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is a huge demand for information worldwide right now about what makes a safe and effective DIY face mask, but there is also a lot of fear and misinformation," Smart Air CEO and aeronautical engineer Paddy Robertson shared in a press release. "By releasing this data, and continuing to be totally transparent about our methodology, we hope to help individuals, institutions and potentially even governments make good, data-backed decisions about how to make face masks that will actually protect them."

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