Wearing a mask is becoming mandatory in more and more places. But is it better to wear a cloth or a disposable mask? We’ll fill you in.
Masks have become an essential means of protecting oneself and others from COVID-19. But which is more effective: cloth or surgical masks?
Cloth masks must conform to and meet certain standards. Not all cloth masks are good to use, so one should always verify that they have been made according to government regulations. There are two categories of cloth masks:
Category 2 filter out up to 70% of the mask wearer’s emissions. Category 1, up to 90%. It is recommended to wear these masks for a maximum of 4 hours a day and to wash them thoroughly at 60°C after each use. Be careful however, they are not reusable forever. Depending on the mask you buy, you should check the number of times it can be washed before it ceases to be effective. Be vigilant.
So-called ‘surgical’ masks filter up to 95% of the particles emitted by the mask wearer. According to the INRS, they also ‘protect the wearer against the projections of droplets emitted by a person facing the wearer.’ A surgical mask is mandatory for hospital staff, but should also be worn by more vulnerable people such as the elderly or people with health problems.
The HCSP issued a report on July 23rd explaining that cloth masks are ‘sufficiently effective for the general population.’
Remember that the mask, whether disposable or cloth, must cover your nose, mouth and chin. Once it is put on, avoid touching it or lowering it: you could contaminate it.