Assessment of cloth masks ability to limit Covid-19 particles spread: a systematic review

Mahshid Ataei, Farshad M. Shirazi, Samaneh Nakhaee, Mohammad Abdollahi, Omid Mehrpour

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


After the spread of Covid 19 worldwide, the use of cloth masks increased significantly due to a shortage of medical masks. Meanwhile, there were different opinions about the effectiveness of these masks and, so far, no study has been done to find the best fabric masks. This study reviews and summarizes all studies related to fabric masks’ effectiveness and various fabrics against coronavirus. This systematic review is based on PRISMA rules. Two researchers separately examined three databases: PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. Laboratory and clinical studies were included. After extracting the articles, their quality was assessed with the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) tool. In addition to efficacy, other factors, including the penetration of masks, pressure drop, and quality factor, were examined to select the best fabrics. Of the 42 studies selected, 39 were laboratory studies, and 3 were clinical studies. Among the various fabrics examined, cotton quilt 120 thread per inch (TPI), copy paper (bonded), hybrid of cotton with chiffon/ silk, and flannel filtration were found to have over 90% effectiveness in the particle size range of Covid-19. The results and comparison of different factors (pressure drop, filtration efficacy, penetration, filtration quality, and fit factor have been evaluated) showed that among different fabrics, hybrid masks, 2-layered cotton quilt, 2-layered 100% cotton, cotton flannel, and hairy tea towel + fleece sweater had the best performance. Clinical studies have not explicitly examined cloth masks’ effectiveness in Covid-19, so the effectiveness of these types of masks for Covid 19 is questionable, and more studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1645-1676
Number of pages32
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Mask
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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