With the many materials available to make a face mask, you might be wondering if polyester is a good material for a face mask. Polyester is a synthetic fiber obtained from air, water, petroleum, and coal. The fibers formed from a chemical reaction between acid and alcohol. It is a durable and lightweight material. Moreover, it is water repellent, so moisture on your skin evaporates rather than soaking into the fabric. However, will it make a good face mask?
Is polyester good for a face mask? As compared to other materials, 100% polyester is not suitable for making a face mask. According to Owensboro Health, polyester is a less breathable fabric and will not work as well due to moisture produced when breathing. On the other hand, using different materials with polyester is a good option.
This article does not contain any product recommendations. If you are interested in purchasing face masks, here’s our buying guide with products.
If 100% polyester is not a good option for a face mask, what are other fabrics or materials to combine with it? What are the best fabrics that you can pair with polyester, and what other fabrics can you use? Check out the rest of this post for more information.
Why Polyester is Not a Good Material for Face Mask?
Research done by SmartAir tested 30 new materials including polyester. They have tested the materials on a Henderson Apparatus which is also a test set-up used by the Cambridge researchers. They have tested for larger (1-micron) particles and smaller (0.3-micron) particles. The 0.3-micron particles are also the most difficult particles to capture and by testing the size, they will provide the most conservative numbers for each material.
For the 1 micron particles, most materials blocked over 50% of particles. However, the four worst-scoring materials were the wool scarf, polyester neck warmer, cotton bandana, and a light scarf. For the 0.3 microns, the polyester captures less than 10 % of the particles.
They have concluded that natural fibers like paper and cotton provide better filtration as compared to synthetic fibers like polypropylene and polyester. Synthetic fibers are smoother and more uniform, while natural fibers are rougher and more irregular. According to the Brownian motion, the irregularity of the natural fibers is likely to make them better at capturing tiny particles.
Hybrid Face Masks Made of Polyester and Other Materials
You can create a cloth face mask from low-cost materials found at home. To examine how effective they are, a team of researchers from the University of Chicago and other institutions in Illinois investigated the filtration efficiencies of common fabrics like silk, cotton, and hybrid materials. Consider aerosol particles from 10 nm to 10 µm in size because they are particularly relevant when it comes to a viral transmission.
They have found that a layered mask made of 2 materials is highly effective. The hybrid mask used contained one layer of high-thread-count cotton and two layers of natural silk or chiffon (90% polyester and 10% spandex). According to the researchers, “Higher threads per inch cotton with tighter weaves resulted in better filtrations efficiencies.” They have also found out that an experimental mask made from a quilt, which sandwiched a cotton-polyester layer between two cotton layers, performed well.
Take note that the gaps between the edges of the mask and facial contours degraded the performance of the masks significantly by approximately 50% or more. Leakage of exhaled air is a vital component when it comes to mask effectiveness. It is the reason why you need to make sure that your DIY mask is secured and fits the contours of your face perfectly.
Polyester and Other Fabric Combinations
According to a study, certain fabric combinations may be an effective face mask to be used in halting the spread of Coronavirus. They have experimented with various samples of chiffon, cotton, spandex, polyester, satin, and flannel materials on their own and in combination. The fabrics tested to see if they can filter out tiny particles.
Particles measuring 10 nanometers to 6 micrometers in diameter fanned over the fabric samples at an airflow rate that is similar to that of a person’s breath when they are at rest. The researchers found that a sheet of tightly woven cotton made of 600 threads per inch plus two sheets of chiffon, made of polyester and spandex is the most effective combination. It can filter out 80-99% of the particle depending on their size.
According to them, other combinations that perform well include a tightly woven cotton plus natural flannel or silk, and cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting. They have also pointed out that one should pay attention to other potentially relevant factors like the effect of humidity on the mask performance and whether reusing and washing homemade masks can reduce their effectiveness.
Cotton is better than a Synthetic Material
Polyester is a synthetic material. Making a mask out of a t-shirt and bandana made of 100% cotton is better as compared to using a stretchy synthetic material. According to experts, synthetic materials like polyester can retain germs longer.
A recent study shows that the best homemade masks may be a combination of two fabrics. You can combine polyester with cotton to create a face mask with better filtration. According to a study, one layer of tightly woven cotton sheet combined with two layers of polyester spandex chiffon, which is a sheer fabric usually used in evening gowns, can filter out most aerosol particles from 80-90% depending on the size of the particle.
We have also written this post about free face mask tutorials and patterns. Check out the post for patterns and tutorials that you can follow. We have gathered a list of various materials and how to use them.
Why Is Polyester Uncomfortable to Wear?
Polyester is a synthetic fabric, and like any other synthetic fabric, it does not breathe. Some people who are wearing polyester feel sweaty or have a feeling of humidity. It can be uncomfortable for most. The reason for this is that polyester has deficient moisture absorption as compared to natural fabrics like cotton.
You can also check out this post that tackles how to sterilize a face mask. We have shared different methods that you can follow when cleaning your face mask.
How Can I Test a Fabric?
The testing method below to find out the suitability of the fabric for a mask is shared by the Georgia Tech website. It is a simple yet effective method that you can do to test if the fabric used as a mask.
Take note that not all fabrics are created equal. There are fabrics that better compared to others when it comes to filtration. Check out the simple method below.
Find a spray bottle, clean it well, and fill it with tap water. Set the spray bottle to the “spray” setting and not the “steam” setting.
Find a mirror and hold the fabric three to four inches from the mirror.
The next step is to spray through one layer of the fabric. Do not let the fabric touch the mirror due to the force of the spray. Do not spray the same spot twice.
If the mirror is very wet from the excess water droplets, then the fabric is not suitable for a mask. On the other hand, if the mirror is mostly dry with only a few small drops, then the fabric is suitable for a face mask.
You can also check out this article about the best neoprene face masks. Find out if neoprene is a good material for face masks. We have also shared a list of the best products that you can choose from.
How Can I Choose the Right Fabric?
Make sure that you choose a fabric that has a tight weave. To check this, hold the fabric into the light. The less light that the fabric allows getting through, the better it is. Generally, stretchy fabrics are not tightly woven. Moreover, avoid using worn-out fabrics that can thin out and develop holes faster.
The fabric should be washable. Better if it is machine washable. Hand washing a fabric is okay bit machine washing is easier and more efficient. Avoid delicate fabrics with designs that will easily fall apart when washed.
See to it that the fabric is breathable. Aside from a good filtration, you also need to check its breathability. You need to be comfortable while wearing them. Otherwise, you will constantly adjust the face mask, which is not advisable because the dirt in your hands can easily transfer to the mask.
We have also written this article that tackles the best fabrics and materials for a face mask. Check out the article for more information as well as for patterns and tutorials that you can follow.
Thank you for reading this post that tackles polyester and if it is a goof material for a face mask. We hope that the information that we have shared has helped you understand more about the fabric and why it is not a good material for a face mask. However, you can still use it when combined with other fabrics. Make sure that you check the materials and fabrics that you are using when making homemade masks. Always choose a fabric with better filtration and is also comfortable to wear.