Does a Wet Mask Decrease Its Effectiveness?

Does a wet mask still work? If your mask is slightly wet, how does this wetness and humidity affect it’s performance?

Fortunately, we have data on the effectiveness of wet masks!

Researchers tested the performance of new and “wet” masks. They asked 22 people to wear either a DIY cloth mask, a surgical mask, or an N95 mask for three hours. They tested the masks at the start (new) and the participants wore them for three hours (and presumably added lots of condensation).

Mask Test

They ran fit tests, which measure how many particles are inside the mask versus outside the mask while a person is actually wearing the mask. Here’s me doing a fit test.

Mask test

Do masks become less effective after getting all wet and humid? The DIY mask actually became slightly more effective.

Wet Mask Effectiveness

Wetness and humidity had basically no effect on the surgical mask.

Wet Mask Effectiveness

Wetness and humidity might have decreased effectiveness for the N95 mask, but the difference was small and could be in the margin of error.

Wet Mask Effectiveness

One caveat is the tests were done on masks wet due to breathing condensation. A mask with exposure to much more moisture (such as rain) may have different results.

Read more: How long do N95 masks last?

Bottom Line

Moisture had very little impact on effectiveness for any of the masks. If anything, the cloth masks actually captured about 6% more virus-sized particles after 3 hours.

Breathe safe!

About Smart Air

The air purifier industry is opaque. It’s profit-driven, not health-driven. Big companies charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for technology that was invented over 70 years ago. We created Smart Air to bring open data and simple, effective air purifiers to opaque industry. We provide no-nonsense, honest purifiers to people (like us) who just want to breathe safe air.

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