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Do I really need a face mask?

We are promoting the #masks4all message that backs the evidence that says if 80% of people wore a face covering of some sort, we could stop this crisis in its tracks. 

You can read all about the #masks4all campaign here.

The basis of the message is that masks are not to protect yourself, but to protect others, for the same reasons as social distancing - because it's asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people that present the greatest risk in terms of transmission.
We wear a face mask in case we are infectious without knowing. We appreciate others wearing a face mask in case they are infectious without knowing. Transmission can occurring via coughing, sneezing and breathing.
A face mask is a pro-social way we do our bit to help protect our community.
We advise everyone checks out the #masks4all campaign, especially research from data scientist Jeremy Howard who has compiled a fairly exhaustive list of papers that together make a compelling case for mandatory wearing of face coverings.
The experts involved in the campaign are emphatic that a DIY or handmade mask is acceptable if you are not a frontline health worker or sick. In fact, with the shortage of medical grade masks, the general public should NOT be buying medical products that are needed on the frontline.

A study from Cambridge University suggests a barrier of almost any sort is at least 5 x more effective at blocking droplet transmission from the wearer than none at all.

This study says that a cloth mask is likely to be between 50 - 70% more efficient at blocking droplet transmission than nothing at all.

That said, mask hygiene is important and wearing a mask should always be in addition to washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and the other Australian Department of Health recommendations.

2 layers or 3?

Any face cover is better than no face cover. 3 layers is ideal, however some find the difficulty that presents to breathing is a deterrent form wearing a mask. Three layers also trap more moisture which can be less effective.  In alignment with health recommendations, we recommend three layers, and all Mask Makery masks have a filter pocket for an additional layer (or more) to comply.

Our latest design complies in full with the Australian Government, Department of Health recommendations and uses 100% polyester outer layer, poly cotton blend middle layer and soft 100% cotton inner layer.

Our previous designs used 100% cotton.

Do they work?

As with all precautionary measures, the purpose of using a face mask of any type is to reduce the spread of infection. It’s another effective tool to help “flatten the curve.”

If you’re unsure about what “flattening the curve" watch this great video.

If you contract Coronavirus, you should absolutely wear a face mask to reduce the spread of infection.

In absence of of medical-grade surgical masks, homemade cloth masks are a good alternative. 

Masks should be at least 2 layers and fit closely to your face. No gaps around the nose, chin or sides of face! 

You should also ensure you follow official guidelines which include self-isolating when unwell, washing hands regularly, and observing social distancing rules.

 Aren't N95 and surgical masks better?

Yes they are, however as there is such a severe shortage, they should be donated to the frontline immediately. As a member of the general public who is observing social distancing and hand hygiene rules, handmade masks are sufficient for the rare times you must leave your home. 

Are they sterile?
No. All masks are steam ironed before being placed in clean packaging and shipped. We do not what the masks are exposed to during shipping so please ensure you wash before wear. 

How do I keep them clean? 

We have been advised that in order to keep your home made mask as hygienic and effective as possible, you should wash it after each use, nominate one side of the mask as the contaminated side. never touch the mask, always handle by the ties and iron before use. Wash after every single use immediately after wearing. You should also not wear a damp or wet mask. If the mask gets damp from breathing you should change it. See more here.

Are they washable?
Yes. We recommend hot hand washing or gentle machine wash with soap. 

Can you put them in the dryer?
Air drying is best, preferably in the sun, but they can go in the dryer in a pinch. 

Can you breathe easily when wearing masks?
Yes. Masks are made of cotton to ensure comfort in breathing.

I've heard wearing a mask can be dangerous, is this true?

Not if you observe proper hygiene. It's very important you wash your hands thoroughly before and after putting on your mask, you should only ever handle your mask by touching the straps, you should wash it after every use and air dry in the sun, and also not wear it for so long the fabric gets damp. It needs to remain dry and clean.

What evidence do you have that they work?
We based this idea on a study from Cambridge University which you can read here. 

This study says that a cotton masks are likely to be between 50 - 70% more efficient at blocking droplet transmission than nothing at all.

However over the weeks since the pandemic began, many scientists and health professionals have joined the movement. 

Here's a good update on the global perspective on mask wearing and why the tides of public opinion are changing.

The Guardian also wrote a good piece busting myths about face masks among other things.

If you want to really get into the data, you can check out this analysis by Jeremy Howard, a data scientist who analysed 34 papers to find out whether the government should be mandating mask wearing by all.

Are these masks regulated?

No. These are handmade, non medical masks designed for home use only. We don't promise any kind of efficacy. We simply tell you where to find the data so you can make your own choice.

Face masks and gowns which are non-sterile and designed as safety or protective apparel for use in the home or for recreational or occupational use (for example, nursing) are excluded from regulation by the TGA under the Act. 

Read more about the regulation for face masks and personal protective equipment here.

We set up this project to help people who can't or don't want to make their own, who don't require medical masks, to find a fairly priced, ethical option, that supports Aussies who are doing it tough. It's in the spirit of the #masks4all campaign, just for those who don't want to DIY. If you do, you can use our pattern for free. 

Do they come in different sizes?
They come in an adults size and children size. We recommend from the age of 10, children are fitted with an adult mask.

Are they adjustable?
Yes. Comfort is important to ensure you feel able to wear it for as long as possible. Rather than sewing it in, we decided to provide an extra long piece of elastic that could be knotted and then slipped into the hem so each customer can make their own choice about how to wear it.

Our research (talking to family and friends about their preferences) indicated everyone is different. We provide instructions on how to tie your elastic depending on whether you prefer to fit your mask over your ears or over the back of your head.

How hygienic are they?
They are steam ironed before shipping, however as we do not know the impact of of shipping and handling procedures, we definitely recommend you wash before wear. Please rewash them after every use.

Are they anti-bacterial?

How much do they cost?
$17.50 each. You can get a pack of 5 for $70 (buy four, get one free).

How much do Makers make?
Makers get $5 labour fee and $1.50 material fee per mask.

Makers are paid for every mask they produce, discounted bundles are at the cost of HQ. When you get a free mask, the Maker still gets paid.

Do you profit from this?
Yes, this is a profit for purpose project. After the Makers get paid and all other project expenses are covered, and tax is paid, there is small profit being reinvested in the project to ensure we can sustain it for as long as needed. We can't operate this project unless we have the funds to sustain us the operations - that's what allows us to grow and help more and more makers. 

Can you choose the colours and design?
To ensure as many masks can be distributed and people paid as possible, we don’t offer guarantees in design and colour. 

This project was started to achieve two important objectives:

1. Flatten the curve of COVID-19

2: Connect people with meaningful work and income after losing their job

Personal style preferences of customers is something we have unfortunately had to de-prioritise to achieve the other two objectives.

We hope you will channel your adventurous spirit and sacrifice a little bit of personal style for the greater good. We thank you in advance for your understanding and hope you wear whatever mask you get with pride. 

What’s the fabric?
We ask our makers to comply with our latest design requirements which use an 100% polyester outer layer, poly cotton blend middle layer and soft 100% cotton inner layer.

How do Makers receive orders?
We email them and follow up with a phone call.

How do Makers ship orders?
They send them to Mask Makery HQ. HQ are responsible for order fulfillment.

Who is responsible for paying tax?
We all are! It’s what pays for stimulus packages during pandemics and universal healthcare and we are so grateful!

In relation to making masks though, you pay your own taxes. All makers are subcontractors with their own ABN so are responsible for their own taxes and super contributions.

Who pays for material?
We recommend no one pays for material. Use scraps. We have technically included a $1 material fee per mask. This covers the cost of elastic and garden wire which Makers will need to source, and include the cost of fabric if a Maker has to buy it. It also covers postage of stock back to HQ to be distributed. Anything left over from using what you have at home or via community groups is yours to keep!

What material can we use?
So long as it complies with our design requirements and is in good condition, we don’t mind. We would love to see as many designs and colours as possible and also welcome neutrals! Surprise us!

What happens if we make a mask in non compliant material?
Unfortunately, we can’t sell or donate that mask so we can’t pay for it. We would really appreciate it if people could be mindful of ensuring they are complying to avoid this happening. 

How do you manage quality issues?
We manage quality by using our own senses in terms of fabric being used, and check sizes based on sales requirements. As we are making these in independent locations, there may be some variations in sizing but we try to minimise this where possible. If a non-cotton mask slips through the cracks and you wish to get another, just let us know, as per our returns policy, we will send you a new one.

What happens if my face mask breaks or doesn't fit?
If your face mask breaks or doesn't fit, send it back and we will replace it as per our returns policy.