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Surgical vs cloth masks

(40 Posts)
ItsNotAGameOfSubbuteoMatthew Fri 19-Jun-20 12:58:29

I haven't needed a mask till now as I have barely left my village. Given we're heading into summer is a cloth or surgical mask more likely to be comfortable? Are there any things I need to consider with either type?

OP’s posts: |
PecorinoPear Fri 19-Jun-20 13:18:50

I wear a surgical mask for work. They are really only designed for sessional use, not for taking on and off. Once touched they need to be thrown away. You can wash a cloth mask. I would still prefer to wear a surgical mask rather than several layers of bandana around my face.

Baaaahhhhh Fri 19-Jun-20 13:21:40

I wouldn't get a "surgical" mask, because they are disposable, you don't really need them, and they are still in short supply. Having said that, loads of people seem to be wearing them.

I have tried three different types from three different suppliers, all washable and re-usable. So, here is my take.

Moulded, pre-formed, three layer, bought from a tailor. Really well made and quite expensive. Lots of choice of material and size. Very comfortable. Very hot! They work really well, but wouldn't be able to wear them in really hot weather. Wore to a funeral yesterday, in the pouring rain, and still very heavy. But obviously do a good job.

Three different layers of cotton from a local lady. Much lighter. Cheaper. Fit not so good. Sizing more limited. Still well made and comfortable though. Three layer, so probably still pretty effective.

Two layer from another on-line supplier. Really light and easy to wear. Still really well made. Cheap. One size. Do like this one though, as prints really nice, and it is really light. Probably easiest to wear, but least protection.

All had adjustable elastics and metal nose pieces.

Sarahbeans Fri 19-Jun-20 13:26:58

I bought these:

By themselves, they don't offer a lot of protection, but I then bought filters off the internet that last 12 hours (still single use) that you insert inside. It was fairly hot to wear, but you can adjust the nose piece to fit so it is a snug fit, and the filter I got was FFP2 standard.

But I live with someone clinically vulnerable, so I wanted something that would be good enough for them too.

time4anothername Fri 19-Jun-20 13:35:06

I have several cloth masks that I will rotate as will soon have to start going on public transport where they are obligatory, they have an inner pocket so you can add in kitchen towel to thicken the layer. I would feel it very wrong to wear medical grade when these are needed elsewhere.

Something you see all the time now around me at bus stops or walking in between places is people pulling masks up and then leaving them hanging around their chin in between. If you are just wearing a mask because you have to but don't worry about catching anything I understand but if you were actually trying not to catch the thing this seems ridiculous because if any particles were sitting on your mask, you are then holding them directly below your nose and mouth in an ideal position to be breathed in aren't you?

Kokeshi123 Fri 19-Jun-20 13:38:51

Surgical masks are somewhat more effective at blocking droplets and IME are more comfortable in the heat.

I think it's a good idea to have a couple of cloth masks but also some surgical masks in case you start to find cloth masks a bit stifling in the summer.

Kokeshi123 Fri 19-Jun-20 13:40:02

Where I live most people wear surgical masks, and no of course you don't have to throw them away if you touch them---civilian mask use is not governed by the the kind of rules that a healthcare provider would have to follow.

BeforeIPutOnMyMakeup Fri 19-Jun-20 13:50:19

WHO guidance which differs from UK government guidance is unless you are over 60 and/or extremely clinically vulnerable you don't need a surgical mask. Instead, use a 3 layer mask like @Baaaahhhhh has indicated.

GameSetMatch Fri 19-Jun-20 13:51:15

My husband brought a box of masks home from work, they are useless big gaps in the side, you can mould it over the nose but it’s not great! If you wear glasses your glasses get steamed up using them too!

InterstellarSleepingElla Fri 19-Jun-20 13:52:53

I saw this from the WHO on what mask to choose based on a number of factors.

InterstellarSleepingElla Fri 19-Jun-20 13:55:53


WHO guidance which differs from UK government guidance is unless you are over 60 and/or extremely clinically vulnerable you don't need a surgical mask. Instead, use a 3 layer mask like @Baaaahhhhh has indicated.

It doesn't say extremely clinically vulnerable - it states all those with underlying health issues - so both clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable.

HeIenaDove Fri 19-Jun-20 16:27:43

PicsInRed Fri 19-Jun-20 18:07:51

I've managed to get some surgical masks from a pharmacy - not comfortable, but are def tolerable. Breathable enough that they'll do in a heatwave - much more comfortable than heavy fabric or n95s. The extra material folds under chin, which helps with face sizing.

WhiteChocTwix Fri 19-Jun-20 19:24:17

I've brought us some cloth masks from a local lady selling them. Really thick, with a nose wire, don't make my glasses steam up at all. Cons are you feel very hot if its over about 20c and I managed to get foundation over the one I wore today! (Not worn makeup in months but had a interview then popped to Tesco). Got more surgical ones on order, definitely better in hot weather.

SirVixofVixHall Fri 19-Jun-20 19:28:34

Baaaahhhhh which tailor did you buy from, if you don’t mind me asking ?

happypotamus Fri 19-Jun-20 21:27:59

I have to wear surgical masks for 13hrs a day at work (we are only supposed to take them off for 1 break during the day, but should change to a new one if it becomes damp from overuse), I also have fabric face masks that I wear on the bus to and from use. Personally, I find the fabric ones much more comfortable, but maybe that's because I am not wearing them for so long or in the heat (my bus journeys are early in the morning and late at night). I also prefer them because they are washable and don't have to be thrown away.

InterstellarSleepingElla Fri 19-Jun-20 21:36:01

Just a question I can't find a definitive answer to regarding children and facemasks.

Many papers and the BBC are saying for children under 11 facemasks are not mandatory. The site only says children under 3 should not wear masks - does anyone know which is actually correct (I know in theory i should go by the website but their info is constantly changing and isn't always updated in a timely manner!).

The reason for asking is dd2 (5) is possibly autistic (last step of diagnosis is on hold as required a f2f session. We have tried facemasks with her and she panics and won't keep it on and doesn't seem to understand even though she is germphobic and rule orientated.

Wingedharpy Sat 20-Jun-20 02:38:50

Surely then @InterstellarSleepingElla, your daughter would be exempt on the grounds of "sensory issues" regaless of her age?

Wingedharpy Sat 20-Jun-20 02:41:29

And Government website says children under 11 exempt - can't link - not clever enough!

NeverFit Sat 20-Jun-20 03:39:10

I bought some washable masks and they have inner pockets for filters. I was okay with them at first, but on last few occasions I have been noticeably breathless wearing them (I have asthma).

I also have surgical type masks and have started using them again. I found it easier to breathe with them.

Looking at the WHO guidance this is what I should be using anyway. But for the environment I will try using the fabric ones on my better days.

DancingWithTheDevil Sat 20-Jun-20 08:24:52

I brought a box of 50 surgical masks on amazon for around £16.
I can not tolerate the cloth ones, and they don't fit my face at all anyway.

RubaiyatOfAnyone Sat 20-Jun-20 08:33:01

“ Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.”


Carlislemumof4 Sat 20-Jun-20 10:28:34

Have found these pleated cotton masks/face coverings (not medical grade) very comfortable to wear, even in hot weather. Fun prints too

With the nose pinch wire, adjustable ear elastic and the mask covering my chin I've found I can wear one for a couple of hours shopping without needing to touch it at all to adjust it. At £4.99 each affordable to buy a selection for myself, DH And DCs.

I wanted to find comfortable, washable cotton ones as I dislike the idea of the huge amount of waste generated by the general population wearing disposable masks on a daily basis. I completely appreciate some people need/want medical grade masks. These are great for me though and I normally get mildly claustrophobic covering my face at all. Almost forgot I was wearing it at the supermarket this morning.

Baaaahhhhh Sat 20-Jun-20 11:34:02

Carlislemumof4 The third item on my list upthread came from here. Really nice and easy to wear. Only two ply though, so not especially good for things like public transport, but great otherwise.


DancingWithTheDevil Sat 20-Jun-20 11:36:23

Carlislemumof4, I have ordered one of those to try. I am worried about the disposable ones and the environment, but have so far found no cloth ones that fit. If these do, I'll wear them instead.

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