Reusable face masks are now an essential household item, but it seems not all are created equal. A study by consumer champion Which? found huge differences in the effectiveness of widely-available reusable masks.
The study revealed some of the best performing face coverings are able to block more than 99% of potentially harmful bacterial particles, but found the worst allowed up to 93% of those particles to escape. Not great.
It’s worth noting straight off the bat that face covers are not the same as surgical face masks – and are sold with the caveat that they’re not medical masks.
But fabric face coverings are intended to help block larger droplets and aerosols breathed out by the wearer. Which? tested for factors such as: how well a mask filters bacteria, how breathable it is, and how it fares after multiple washes.
Here’s what they found.
The ‘worst’ face masks
Three out of the 15 face coverings Which? tested performed so badly they were deemed a ‘Don’t Buy’.
At the bottom of the table and earning the lowest scores overall were a face covering from Termini8 sold at Lloyds Pharmacy (£2), one from Asda (£3) which is no longer on sale, and one from Etiquette (£3), which is sold at Superdrug.
All were lightweight and breathable as they were made with only one layer of material, but this affected their ability to filter potentially harmful particles, earning each mask only one star out of five in this category.
Studies have found three layers is preferable to filter out harmful particles.
A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy told HuffPost UK it takes the quality and efficacy of the products it sells “very seriously” and that the Termin8 mask is compliant with all necessary requirements as set out by the Department for Health and Social Care and the British Retail...