What’s the best, most protective fabric for a cloth face mask? Scientists at Florida Atlantic University wanted to find out. So, they tested four non-medical style masks that would be accessible to most people: A bandana tied over the nose and mouth, a folded handkerchief, a cone-style commercial dust mask, and a do-it-yourself mask sewn from two layers of quilting fabric.

The winner? The quilting fabric mask!

Engineering professor Siddhartha Verma and his team used mannequins with mouth and nose openings attached to a manual smoke generator that could simulate coughs and sneezes. And they used a laser beam and a camera to capture the path of the simulated “respiratory droplets.”

The result: Without a mask, cough droplets flew 8 to 12 feet. A bandana kept the simulated droplets within 3 feet, the folded handkerchief cut that to 15 inches, and dust masks cut that in half, to just over 7 inches. But the stitched, two-ply quilt-fabric mask halted droplets within just 2‑and‑a‑half inches.

The researchers believe masks made with quilting fabric are so effective because they’re more closely fitted to the face than other mask styles. Plus, cotton quilting fabric is thicker than the fabric in a bandana or handkerchief, and the two layers provide added protection.

Want to protect yourself and your loved ones against the coronavirus? Wear a mask made from two layers of quilting fabric!