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Cotton Face Masks vs. Other Types

The spread of the Coronavirus is a big concern in the USA and we continue to adapt to this new strange normal. To slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the public from long term effects of having the disease and to save lives, the CDC recommends wearing all citizens wear a face mask in public. Businesses  and schools are reopening, and many locations require face coverings in order to provide services and goods. Let’s take a look at cotton face masks vs. other types

Why Wear a Mask?

COVID-19 is a highly transmissible airborne virus. This means it spreads easily from person to the next like wildfire through a community. It is transferred by way of droplets from the nose and mouth, as well as touching surfaces containing these droplets. These droplets can come from sneezes, coughs, talking, or even just breathing. Since the virus is so easily spread, it is important to contain it as much as possible by way of wearing masks. Wearing a mask not only safeguards you from virus carrying droplets of other people, but it also prevents other people from being exposed to your droplets. This is especially important since the virus has a long incubation period and many people do not show symptoms yet can still infect others.

Types of Masks


This type of mask offers the best in filtration for even smaller particles, so it is the best defense against the virus. However, this mask should not be used by the average person because they are for healthcare workers. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare works are specifically fitted for the masks and they desperately need them more than the average person because they must be in close contact to infected people, and must assume people are infected until proven negative.

Disposable Surgical Masks

A potentially controversial option when it comes to face masks is the disposable non-medical surgical mask. These are made of non-woven spun fibers and are one-time use. They are typically worn in healthcare settings for short periods of time, less than 4 hours, and used for procedures that are not associated with infected or contagious individuals. These typically have a bendable nose piece and the metal piece should be used and bent around the bridge of the nose to provide a better seal and to help keep the mask on your nose. The mask should not be worn on the tip of your nose because that does not protect others from your droplets that would escape in large quantities out the top. Disposable masks are also not as ideal for the planet since they add to landfill waste and discarded trash pollution in great numbers over time.

Stretchy Polyester  

Some companies did not do their research to find the best fabric to make an effective mask. SwaddleDesigns founder is an RN and she researched and read many studies as to the best fabric to use for cloth masks. We are focused on making cloth masks as effective as possible. Others are focused on creating a new style trend. For example, neck scarves that are single layer polyester or single layer polyester gaiters are not very effective as they allow too many droplets to flow through the material, especially under the force of a cough or sneeze.

Cotton Masks

Cotton is an ideal material for face masks for a few reasons. It is breathable to wear. As a natural fiber, cotton is also comfortable to wear and easy to care for. You can simply throw your mask in the washer at the end of the day to make sure it is clean for the next day. Be sure the cotton masks you choose have tightly woven fabric. You can take a washed mask and hold it up to a light on the ceiling. If you can see pin holes or specks of light, the weave is too loose. It’s ok if you see the shadow of your hand passing between the mask and the light, just no bright specks of light. Cotton face masks are great for the general public for daily wear while running errands or working without taking away supplies from healthcare professionals.

Buy or DIY?

When choosing your cotton mask, you have probably seen the tutorial on how to make a quick mask out of a pillowcase or bandana. While this may be ok in true emergency, when nothing else is available, you will definitely want to purchase a well-made cotton face mask. Our professionally made cotton face masks offer a great fit and long-lasting value. They are durable enough to stand up to daily washing and drying. See our other articles regarding how to take care of your mask and how to wash your masks.