Are Reusable or Washable Masks Effective?

With the digit of confirmed coronavirus cases still climbing in the United States, the CDC continues to urge people to wear face masks or any other type of face-covering when out in public —CDC guidance on face masks were first issued in early April. Now, the WHO has updated its advice on face masks as well.


“In light of evolving evidence, WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is a widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, said at a media briefing.


But even with growing evidence that supports the efficiency of face masks such as the N95 respirator and the 3PLY surgical mask, the CDC recommends any type of face coverings, including cloth masks and fabric masks, and their use is entirely voluntary.  But for people looking to take care of themselves while in public, what level of protection do these masks provide?

Dr. Teo Tee Hui, council member of The Institution of Engineers Singapore, who’s also a senior lecturer at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, said that reusable masks made with cotton provide between 50% and 60% of filtration efficiency, but also, home-made masks were 20% as effective as a surgical one, which is far too high a risk.


The best way to protect yourself is by wearing disposable masks with a +95% filtration efficiency. But since surgical masks and N95 have been scarce and should be reserved for front-line workers, cloth face coverings are accepted by organizations like the CDC and the WHO, as they have an acceptable efficiency percentage, are easy to find or make, and can be washed and reused.

Working Hard to Alleviate the Shortage of Medical Face Masks


At We Shield we are currently sourcing and distributing the highest-quality PPE throughout the U.S. at a competitive price and time, we import our safety supplies via private cargo planes multiple times a week and have the experience, certifications, and connections to expedite the process and make it as affordable as possible to support the immediate safety goals of our clients.