In the past week, we at Microfiber Wholesale have been overwhelmed with phone calls, emails, and web chats asking about 4-Ply microfiber for face masks. We’re aware of several articles and blog posts referencing testing done by the US Army that indicates that 4-ply microfiber is the best readily available material to use for homemade face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We, like many of you, were wondering what 4-ply microfiber is. Microfiber is most commonly measured by its weight in GSM (grams per square meter). Microfiber is not measured in ply because it’s most often a woven material, not layers of material bonded together like a paper towel or plywood.
I searched for the answer to the 4-ply microfiber mystery via google and the big box stores and was unable to find it anywhere. I looked through the Army’s press releases hoping to find clarification or a contact information so I could get more information but could not find either. So, I did what any other reasonably intelligent person would do, I began to speculate.
The most reasonable guess as to what 4-ply microfiber means is four pieces of microfiber cloth layered together and fashioned into a homemade face mask. Microfiber comes in a variety of different weights and densities and we have no way of knowing what type of microfiber the Army used in its tests. Two layers of a 300 GSM towel have the same weight as three layers of a 200 GSM cloth. Because we’re unable to actually test the effectiveness of four layers of microfiber for preventing the spread of airborne pathogens, we simply checked to see which four layers of microfiber cloths we were able to breath through.
Our Buff Pro Multi-Surface Microfiber Towel is the heaviest (320 GSM) cloth we tried. When four layers were placed firmly over the nose and mouth, it was not easy or comfortable to breathe through. However, one layer was as comfortable as breathing through a surgical mask. The next was our Economy All Purpose Microfiber Towel. Four layers of the economy 250 GSM towel was much easier to breathe through than the thicker Buff Pro towel. Our favorite four-layer face mask towel was hands down the 200 GSM MWipe. The 100 GSM non-woven Disposable Microfiber Towel was nearly impossible to breathe through.
In a nutshell, we’re not sure what 4-ply microfiber is and haven’t been able to find any more information on it than any other person. We’re following the CDC recommendations and using masks when social distancing is too difficult. We hope you all are healthy and safe.