Can Vacuum Bags Be Used to Make Face Masks? Is it a Good Idea and Should You Make Them?

Ever since the new coronavirus has spread across the world, face masks have become a necessity. This combined with frequent medical mask shortages, got people interested in making homemade masks from all sorts of materials. But can vacuum bags be used to make face masks?

Yes, you can use vacuum bags to make face masks. Researchers found that vacuum bags offer excellent protection, filtering out 94 percent of airborne particles. If you decide to make a mask out of a vacuum bag using a HEPA filter vacuum bag. Also, before you get started make sure that the vacuum bag you are going to use doesn’t contain fiberglass.

Keep on reading to find out how effective are face masks made from vacuum bags and how to safely use them.

How Effective is a Mask Made from a Vacuum Bag?

Before we get any further remember, the mask is only effective if it offers coverage for both your mouth and nose. The mask also must be made from safe and appropriate materials.

Researchers from Cambridge University have found that homemade masks from vacuum bags are effective.

This research discovered that masks made from vacuum bags captured 86% of 0.02-micron Bacteriophage MS2 particles. To put things into perspective, the coronavirus is around 0.1 microns or five times larger than Bacteriophage MS2.

This means that the vacuum filter material traps harmful particles, preventing them from infecting the person wearing the mask.

Based on this research, wearing a homemade mask made from a vacuum bag is highly effective and can be a great alternative to wearing a surgical mask.

Is it Safe to Use Vacuum Cleaner Bags to Make Face Masks? 

Not long after the research about their effectiveness was published, the masks made out of vacuum bags were a subject of much controversy.

The safety of these masks was put into question after London doctor Simon Freilich said in a video that making a mask out of a HEPA vacuum bag is a really bad thing to do. He said that vacuum bags are made from glass microfiber, also known as, fiberglass which is harmful for the human respiratory system.

After some debate with viewers who said that the vacuum bags they’d checked don’t contain any fiberglass in them, the doctor posted that he couldn’t research every type of vacuum bag out there.

In turn, this debate has prompted people in the vacuum bag industry to speak up about their experiences. As it turns out, there is no fiberglass in vacuum bags, nor was this material used for manufacturing vacuum bags.

While health professionals agree that fiberglass particles are dangerous to inhale, there is no evidence that vacuum bags contain these particles. To be completely sure, you can contact the manufacturer of any vacuum cleaner bag you’re thinking of using to make a mask.

All things considered, there is no evidence that masks made of vacuum bags contain fiberglass or other materials that can be harmful in any way. On the other hand, research showed that vacuum bags are highly effective at filtering out airborne particles.

How to Maintain Your Homemade Mask?

All fabric masks should be laundered in a washing machine routinely. How often will you need to wash your mask depends on how often you are using it.

When washing your homemade mask made out of a vacuum bag, discard the filter fabric. After the mask is washed and dried you can insert a new piece of filter fabric.

You can use the pre-cut vacuum cleaner bag filter in any fabric mask that has a pocket. This pocket allows the filter to be added between two layers of fabric and also keeps it securely in place.

Adding a HEPA filter from a vacuum bag, greatly increases the amount of protection the mask provides. Removing and inserting the filter from the pocket is also easy, due to the way these masks are made. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the fabric from the mask can stretch out and become threadbare from frequent laundering and use. To ensure the highest level of protection, replace old fabric masks with new ones from time to time.

So, Can Vacuum Bags Be Used to Make Face Masks?

Vacuum bags can be used to make face masks and they are also highly effective at filtering out airborne particles. Besides being a great alternative for medical masks, homemade masks made from vacuum cleaner bags are also completely safe to wear.

While these types of masks aren’t considered PPE and aren’t FDA approved they are a great way to slow the spread of coronavirus. Best of all, you can wash the fabric in the washing machine and replace the filter countless times, and still have a highly functional mask that filters out airborne particles.

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