Factors Influencing the Filtration Performance of Homemade Face Masks


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the world. As a public health response to control the pandemic, wearing homemade face coverings has been proven as a resort to protect both the wearer and others from droplets and aerosols transmission. Although aerosols and droplets can be removed through these non-medical materials with a series of filtration mechanisms, their filtration performances have not been evaluated in detail. Moreover, many factors, such as the fabric properties and the method of usage, also affect filtration performance. In this study, the size-dependent filtration performances of non-medical materials as candidates for face coverings were evaluated comprehensively. The flow resistance across these filter materials, an indicator of breathability, was also examined. The effect of materials properties, washing and drying cycles, and triboelectric effect on particle filtration was also studied. Results showed that the filtration efficiency varied considerably from 5–50% among fabrics materials due to the material properties, such as density and microscopic structure of the materials. Microfiber cloth demonstrated the highest efficiency among the tested materials. In general, fabric materials with higher grams per square meter (GSM) show higher particle filtration efficiency. The results on washing and drying fabric materials indicated decent reusability for fabric materials. The triboelectric charge could increase the filtration performance of the tested fabric materials, but this effect diminishes soon due to the dissipation of charges, meaning that triboelectric charging may not be effective in manufacturing homemade face coverings.


Mining Engineering

Second Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This work is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation grant 2034198.

Keywords and Phrases

Aerosols; COVID-19; fabrics; filtration performance; homemade face mask

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1545-9624; 1545-9632

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2021 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2021

PubMed ID