When you need to go back to work, some states have issued mandatory masks. If you do not already have one, that means you will no doubt either be asking for one to be made for you or to purchase one. But which materials work best? What is the difference between one type of material from the other?

We let you know the materials to look for in a face mask to make it the most effective.

What material is best for a reusable face mask?

Scientists are discovering it is less about the material and more about the quality of the material. Cotton, linen, or silk—the higher the quality fabric, usually the tighter the weave and thicker the thread, which all does a better job blocking droplets from passing through.

Cotton is a good choice if you cannot get your hands on the fabric of the mask itself. However, if you can, hold the mask up to the light. Can you see an outline of almost all the individual fibers? If you can—then this is not a mask that will work well.

Tightly woven 100% cotton is one of the best bets for mask materials. At the microscopic level, the natural fibers in cotton tend to have a more 3-dimensional structure than synthetic fibers and create more roadblocks to the incoming particle.

Multiple layers, better chances.

Several studies have found that masks constructed of several material layers are even more effective for blocking particles. Two layers of a tight-weave fabric with a built-in pocket for a filter is an excellent choice.

Disposable or reusable?

Both performed well in lab tests for breathability and blocking respiratory droplets. Depending on the material choice, both can be effective and safe. Disposable however are worn once and thrown away (they begin to break down and become less effective if used more than once) which is not fantastic from an environmental viewpoint. In the long run, a reusable, washable mask is better for a long-term solution.

  • Reusable over disposable
  • 100% cotton tightly woven has natural roadblocks for filtering better.
  • Two layers are better than one, if possible, a built-in pocket for filter best.

Make sure the mask fits you, too. If it does not fit around your nose, jaw, and chin well, gaping areas can allow particles both out and in.

Tactical Distributors hopes that all of our clients, customers, and fans stay safe and stay healthy.

Anna Mullins