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Four masks shown for comparison


N95 masks are the gold standard, but other good options exist if you do not have an N95, primarily KN95 masks and well-made, well-fitting, 3-layer cloth masks. Disposable surgical masks are also readily available but tend to leave gaps between the mask and face, reducing their usefulness (although there are ways to improve it).

If you want to find and buy a good mask that meets the guidelines of the U.S. CDC as well as the World Health Organization, go right to Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy.

If you want an N95 respirator, see Finding the Best N95 Masks section. If you want a KN95 respirator, see the Finding the Best KN95 Masks section.

If you want to make your own mask (which can be quite effective) see the Best combination of materials for making a mask section. We also identify what seem to be the best disposable filter materials.

Masks can be used alone or, for increased protection, particularly for the eyes, with a face shield — which we have also reviewed.

Here's what we cover in this answer:

Why and when you should wear a mask

While vaccination to protect against COVID-19 has led to a decreased need for masking in certain situations, unvaccinated individuals are still advised to wear a mask when in public indoor settings. In addition, due to concerns about the spread of the Delta variant, masks are recommended for fully vaccinated individuals when in indoor spaces with high community transmission rates, as well as for fully vaccinated individuals with compromised immune systems or who are taking immune-suppressing drugs. Masks are also required for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, when required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws (including local business and workplace guidance), on public transportation, and in healthcare settings. (Get more details about masking guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals in our article about COVID vaccines).

Along with social distancing, a mask provides additional protection from infecting others as well as preventing exposure. In addition, according to the CDC, "cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers' exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns." A review of studies found that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and related coronaviruses was 82% lower with physical distancing of 1 meter (3.3 feet) or more, compared with shorter distances, and protection might increase with additional distance. Face mask use could result in an 85% reduction in risk of infection versus no face mask, with stronger associations for N-95 or similar respirators, while surgical masks and multi-layered cotton masks were less effective but offered more protection than single-layer masks (Chu, Lancet 2020).

As wearing a mask may reduce the amount of virus to which a wearer is exposed, it has been postulated that even if a mask-wearing person becomes infected, the reduced viral load to which they were exposed may mean that they suffer a milder disease. For example, on cruise ships with COVID-19 outbreaks, the majority of infected patients (81%) were asymptomatic on a ship that had provided masks to all passengers and staff compared to only 18% of cases being asymptomatic on a cruise ship without masking (Gandhi, J Gen Intern Med 2020; Gandhi, N Engl J Med 2020).

Another benefit of wearing a mask is that, due to the heat and moisture of exhaled breath, masks have been shown to increase the humidity and temperature of inhaled air, which, researchers have proposed, may reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as COVID by promoting the clearance of pathogens in the lungs (Courtney, Biophysical J 2021 -- preprint).

Masks can be bought or homemade, reusable or disposable, but must fully cover the nose and mouth. Clear panel masks are acceptable to facilitate communication with people who are hearing impaired or who otherwise need to see a speaker's mouth in order to communicate. Medical masks, N95 and KN95 respirators are also acceptable. In addition to fully covering the nose and mouth, masks should also fulfill the following guidelines:

  • Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source). (See our Top Picks among cloth masks that meet these requirements.) If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.
  • Masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Masks should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.

Scarves, ski masks, turtlenecks pulled over the face, masks made from loosely woven material, and masks with slits, exhalation valves, or punctures are not acceptable.

Face shields and goggles can be worn with masks, but cannot be worn instead of a mask. (See our Top Pick among face shields).

Failure to wear a mask as described above is a violation of federal law and can be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and state and local authorities. The TSA has proposed a fine of $250 for the first offense up to $1,500 for repeat offenders (TSA 2021). However, there are several exceptions to the requirement: Masks may be removed for brief periods of time when eating, drinking, or taking medication, while communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, when required to verify one's identity, and when requested by a ticket agent or law enforcement officer.

Any benefit to wearing masks at home?

Although CDC guidelines do not currently include the use of face masks at home, the rate of transmission from one household family member to another was 79% lower when members wore face masks prior to the first member developing COVID-19 symptoms, according to a study of 124 families in Beijing in which there was at least one infected person. Overall, there was a 23% rate of transmission of COVID-19 from an infected family member to another, but this was no lower when mask wearing began after the first member developed symptoms. These results are consistent with the fact that viral load is highest two days before symptoms and on the first day of symptoms. Daily use of disinfectants reduced transmission by 77%. Transmission rates were four times higher if the primary case had diarrhea and 18 times higher when there was frequent daily close contact (less than 3 feet apart). The researchers recommended use of face masks in families in which a member has been at risk of getting infected. In China, over 70% of transmission occurred within families (Wang, BMJ Global Health 2020).

Best combination of materials for making a mask


Currently, both the CDC and WHO provide basic guidelines for choosing a cloth mask.

According to CDC guidelines, a cloth mask should:

  • Use a minimum of 2 - 3 layers, preferably with batting between the layers
  • Use fabrics with high thread count and fine weave, water-resistant fabric, and hybrid fabrics such as cotton-silk, cotton-chiffon, or cotton-flannel (cotton blends may be better than pure cotton). (In addition, the CDC notes that, due to their electrostatic charge, materials such as polypropylene may enhance filtration efficacy and fabrics such as silk can help to repel droplets.)
  • Cover the nose and chin
  • Fit snugly on the sides of the face without gaps
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Use ties rather than ear loops because ties provide better fit

It also advises that if wearing a neck gaiter, choose one with two layers or fold it to make two layers.

In addition, the CDC warns not to choose masks that are:

  • Made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, such as vinyl
  • Have exhalation valves or vents, as this allows virus particles to escape
  • Intended for healthcare workers, such as N95s and surgical masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides more details about which types of fabrics may work best. It recommends using three layers of fabric for non-medical, cloth masks in order to achieve the best combination of filtration efficacy and breathability:

1. Innermost layer: Hydrophilic material (i.e., one that can absorb moisture, such as cotton or cotton blends)

2. Middle layer: Hydrophobic material (i.e., repels moisture) of synthetic non-woven material such as polypropylene or a second cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets.

3. Outermost layer: Hydrophobic material (e.g., polypropylene, polyester, or their blends) which may limit external contamination from penetration through to the wearer's nose and mouth.

(See Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy for our review of masks for sale that appear to meet the WHO requirements)

Note that polypropylene, a material often used to make disposable surgical masks, has an electrostatic charge which can improve the filtration efficiency of masks. Polypropylene "spunbound" is sold in fabric and many other retail and online stores under brand names such as Oly*fun and Pellon. Polypropylene is sold in different weights (measured in grams per square meter or GSM). Most commercially manufactured surgical masks are made of 3-ply 25GSM. Polypropylene materials between 25 and 40 GSM tend to have similar filtration efficacy and breathability, while polypropylene 60 GSM has a higher filtration efficiency but less breathability (Zhao, Nano Lett 2020). Be aware that some forms of polypropylene should not be machine washed.

See below for a more detailed discussion of the filtration efficacy of various cotton and synthetic household fabrics.

Note that Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. FDA) has advised against using face masks labeled as containing graphene (or biomass graphene) due to concerns that graphene particles might be inhaled (Health Canada April 2, 2021). Graphene is promoted for use in some masks as having antibacterial and antiviral properties. Preliminary research suggests that graphene particles may cause early lung toxicity in animals, but the agency noted that the "potential for people to inhale graphene particles from face masks and the related health risks are not yet known, and may vary based on mask design." Health Canada has asked distributors in Canada to stop selling graphene masks while it investigates the safety of using graphene in masks, and advised that people who have used graphene face masks and "have health concerns, or symptoms such as new or unexplained shortness of breath, discomfort or difficulty breathing," to consult with their healthcare provider. For examples of graphene masks sold in the U.S., sign in and read the full answer.

Standards for masks

ASTM International, a non-profit organization that sets standards for medical masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), has published voluntary standards for non-medical cloth face masks. Masks labeled "Meets ASTM F3502" must be shown, in an accredited laboratory, to meet one of two designations that will also appear on the mask label:

Level 1: Particle filtration efficiency of at least 20% and airflow resistance of < 15 mm H2O

Level 2: Particle filtration efficiency of at least 50% and airflow resistance of < 5 mm HH2O

(For comparison, a NIOSH approved N95 must have an airflow resistance of no more than 35 mm H2O).

Masks that claim to meet ASTM standards are also required to provide user instructions for size proper selection, proper use, and cleaning or disposal instructions.

How cotton and other household fabrics compare in blocking coronavirus

The first study, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that many household fabrics can be as effective as the material in surgical masks for blocking droplets of sizes known to carry the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) coronavirus. The blocking efficiency of a commercial medical mask was found to be 96.3%, while the blocking efficiency of a used dish cloth (85% polyester and 15% nylon) was slightly better -- 97.9%. In addition, most household fabrics were more breathable than the material in a medical mask. The dish cloth, for example, was twice as breathable as the medical mask (Aydin, medRxiv 2020 --preprint). (See the CDC website to learn how to make a cloth face covering.)

Tightly woven cotton, combined with silk or chiffon
A study at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory found that tightly woven, high-thread count cotton (600 thread-per-inch (TPI) sheet by Wamsutta) was more effective in filtering large droplets (similar to larger-sized SARS-CoV-2 droplets) than loosely woven cotton with a lower thread count (quilters cotton, 80 TPI), while fabrics with an electrostatic charge (such as silk and chiffon) were best for blocking aerosols -- the smaller sized droplets that remain suspended in air for extended amounts of time. Using layers of both fabrics, together, was most effective for blocking both large and small droplets. For example, two layers of 600 TPI cotton fabric had a large particle and small particle blocking efficacy of 99.5% and 82%, respectively, but one layer of 600 TPI cotton combined with two layers of chiffon (90% polyester, 10% spandex from Jo-Ann Stores) had a large particle and small particle blocking efficacy of 99.2% and 97% -- which, at low airflow rates (i.e., when not all air is drawn through the mask) is nearly as good as a properly-fitted N95 mask for blocking large particles and better than the N-95 with respect to small particles, of which only 85% are blocked by an N-95 mask). However, as emphasized in a published correction to the study, it is not known how efficient this fabric combination will be at normal or high rates of airflow when made into a fitted mask, i.e., when there are no leaks and all air flows directly through the mask, particularly when one is engaged in high levels of exertion. The researchers also found that small holes or leaks around the edges of the fabrics could decrease the blocking efficacy by 50% or more, and emphasized the importance of a good fit (snug and without gaps) (Konda, ACS Nano 2020). [Note: An illustration in the study shows the electrostatic layer of fabric as the inner layer when fabrics were combined. However, ConsumerLab contacted the author of the study who suggested that electrostatic fabric (such as chiffon) may be best used as the outer layer of the mask to avoid humidity from the nose or mouth, which could interfere with the electrostatic properties, but emphasized that was his suggestion, not something that was tested in the study.]

Cotton bandanas and handkerchiefs
In another study, researchers at Florida Atlantic University tested masks made from common household fabrics, as well a typical "cone" mask (often sold at pharmacies) to see how well they worked to stop droplets using a simulated model of coughing (a mannequin head through which liquid was manually pumped). Without any covering, droplets from the simulated cough traveled an average of 8 feet. With a bandana (single-layer, elastic T-shirt material, 85 threads per inch) droplets traveled an average of 3 ft. 7 inches, with a folded cotton handkerchief (as shown in this instructional video featuring the U.S. Surgeon General), 1 ft. 3 inches, and with a cone mask (CVS Cone Face Mask), 8 inches. The most effective mask was a stitched cotton mask (using two-layers of cotton quilting fabric, 70 threads per inch), with which droplets traveled just 2.5 inches. The researchers noted that "healthcare professionals trained properly in the use of high-quality fitted masks will not experience leakage to the extent that we have observed in this study. However, leakage remains a likely issue for members of the general public who often rely on loose-fitting homemade masks." (Verma, Phys Fluids 2020).

Polypropylene and surgical masks
Rather than focus on how far droplets travel, researchers at Duke looked at how well different masks block droplets during speaking. A fitted N95 mask without a valve was most effective in retaining droplets, with less than 1% of droplets being transmitted. The next most effective, in order, were a 3-layer surgical mask, a cotton-polypropylene-cotton "apron" mask, a 2-layer polypropylene mask, a 2-layer cotton pleated mask, and then an N95 with a valve.

Neck gaiters (fleece, microfiber & polyester)
The Duke researchers found that two masks offered little protection: A double-layer bandana was only slightly more effective than using no face covering at all, while the worst face covering was a "gaiter" style neck fleece (often worn during running or sports) that showed a 10% increase in the number of droplets. The researchers suggested that the neck fleece material breaks larger liquid droplets into smaller droplets than can more easily be dispersed into the air (Fischer, Sci Adv 2020 — includes photos of the masks but no details about origin or brands). However, tests conducted by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute found that, when measuring droplets that dispersed in an outward direction at a distance of about 1 ft. (30 cm), neck gaiters (one made of thin, 100% polyester (Chaos) and the other, a thicker, microfiber gaiter made of 87% polyester and 13% elastane (Cirque)) worked as well as a cloth mask (a no-sew mask made of cotton T-shirt material), blocking 100% of larger droplets (> 20 microns), 90% of droplets 5 microns in size, and 50% of 0.5 micron aerosols. They were somewhat less efficient than the cloth mask at blocking smaller aerosols, although when the thinner gaiter was doubled over, it blocked about 90% of droplets and aerosols (0.5 to 5 microns) (Pan, Virginia Tech PDF 2020).

When doubled over, some neck gaiters may be more effective than a triple layer, all-cotton cloth mask. A study conducted by researchers at the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), found that a single-layer polyester neck gaiter (FKGIONG Sun UV Protection Neck Gaiter, 95% polyester, 5% Spandex) blocked 47% of outward moving cough aerosols (ranging in size from 0 to 7 microns) and when doubled over, blocked 60%. This was slightly better than a medical procedure mask with ear loops, which blocked 59% and a cloth mask made of 3 layers of cotton fabric and ear loops (Hanes Defender), which blocked 51%. An N95 respirator blocked 99% (Lindsley, medRxiv 2020 -- preprint). It should be noted that the cotton cloth mask tested did not have an outer layer made of hydrophobic material (such as polypropylene or polyester) as recommended by WHO. If wearing a neck gaiter, make sure it fits securely and consider choosing one with an adjustable cord, to help prevent it from falling down (off of the nose and mouth) during strong sudden movements, such as during a sneeze.

Which masks protect you best?

A study that evaluated how well masks protect the wearer from breathing in small particles (ranging in size from 0.02 to 0.6 microns) and factored in the fit of the mask as well as its filtration efficiency found that a NIOSH approved N95 (3M 9210) had the highest filtration efficiency at 98%, followed by 80% for a medical procedure mask with ear loops (Cardinal Health) with nylon hosiery placed over it, and 71.5% for a surgical mask with ties. [Note: The filtration efficiency of the medical procedure masks can range dramatically depending on how it was worn.] The filtration efficiency was 74% for a 2-layer woven nylon mask with ear loops (Easy Masks LLC) with an aluminum nose bridge and nonwoven filter insert which, interestingly, had a slightly higher filtration efficiency after being washed once, 49.9% for a folded, cotton bandana, 39.3% for a single-layer woven polyester/nylon mask with ties (Renfro Corporation), 37.8% for a single-layer woven gaiter/neck cover balaclava bandana MPUSA LLC), 28.6% for a nonwoven polypropylene mask with fixed ear loops (Red Devil Inc), and just 26.5% for a 3-layer woven cotton mask (100% cotton) with ear loops (Hanesbrands Inc) (Clapp, JAMA Intern Med 2020).

Best Materials for Making Your Own Mask Filter

As discussed above, the WHO recommends that the middle layer of a cloth mask be made of a synthetic, nonwoven fabric such as polypropylene, or a second layer of cotton (high thread count cotton has been shown to have better filtration efficacy than lower-thread cotton). Many cloth masks that you can buy online come with a "filter pocket" as the middle layer, which you can buy pre-made filters for, or add your own. We've reviewed common materials for making mask filters, including Filti Face Mask Material and Medline Dry Baby Wipes, as well as materials such as polypropylene and other non woven fabrics (100% polypropylene, Pellon Sew-In Interfacing and Oly*fun), cotton and quilter's cotton. Sign in as a member or join now to see our reviews and more details about materials for making your own mask filters.

How Cloth, N95, KN95 and other Masks Compare

As noted above, well-constructed cloth masks may reduce your risk of exposure to virus-containing particles, but their main purpose is to help protect others from potentially infectious particles that you may emit. They generally do not provide the same level of protection to the wearer as N95 or KN95 respirators. The extent to which cloth masks can filter particles (filtration efficiency) can vary widely depending on the type of fabrics used, the number of layers, and the fit. Cloth masks are also not held to the same standards as N95 and KN95 respirators, as they do not have to be tested by a government agency or meet standardized criteria in order to be sold. If you choose a cloth mask, be sure to it meets basic CDC and WHO guidelines. You can also look for cloth masks that has been tested and shown to meet voluntary ASTM standards. A cloth mask that has received a "Level 2" designation has been shown to have a particulate filtration efficiency "of at least 50%."

In comparison, NIOSH approved particulate N95 respirators have been tested by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the U.S. CDC. They must meet certain minimum criteria, including a particular filtration efficiency of at least 95%, an inhalation resistance of < 25 mm H20 and an exhalation resistance of <35 mm H20 (these are measures of how difficult is to breath in and out while wearing the respirator). Unlike cloth masks, NIOSH approved N95s are also required to attach to the head with head straps, rather than ear loops, as head straps can provide a more secure fit and reduce gapping.

KN95 respirators, the Chinese "equivalent" of N95 respirators, must meet similar standards, including a particular filtration efficiency of at least 95%, and limits for inhalation and exhalation resistance. They are not required to have head straps (most have ear loops), although some do. Be aware that, during the pandemic, there have been many reports of counterfeit KN95s sold in the U.S., so you need to careful where you buy KN95s. (For more about the differences between N95s and KN95s and quality concerns, see Are KN95 respirators as good as N95s?).

Sign in to see CL's Reviews of Popular N95 Respirators.

Best Cloth Masks You Can Buy

If you prefer to purchase a cloth mask, we reviewed many masks sold online and identified several that we believe best meet WHO guidelines and/or are constructed with materials that offer a good combination of filtration efficacy and breathability. We also considered features that can affect fit and comfort, such as adjustable/bendable nose wires and adjustable straps, which can be particularly important for people who wear glasses or hearing aids. We also reviewed oversized masks designed to accommodate beards or to be used when singing, and masks with clear panels to enable lip reading by others.

In addition, we assessed eyeglass fogging with each mask when worn in cool air.

Our list starts with our overall Top Pick for quality, comfort and breathability, fit, and minimal eyeglass fogging. This is followed by our next favorites, as well as masks for those who need clear panels. In our review of masks, we considered those from Allet, Atelier, Giftington, Graf Lanzt, LA Linen, Proper Cloth, Rafi Nova, Stark's, Tom Bihn, Vertex, Vida, Vistaprint, and masks sold on Etsy.

Be aware that there is a shipping fee for most masks, calculated before check out based on location and/or other factors. Most companies provide an estimated time for the product to ship, but delivery time will depend on the shipping option you choose. derives no revenue from sales of these products.

(To see our list of the best cloth masks you can buy, sign in. If you are not a ConsumerLab member, join now.)

How to reduce air leakage around a mask

Air leakage around a mask reduces the level of protection it provides you and those around you. There are several ways to reduce air leakage, as discussed below. Also be aware that if you are infectious, the area of your face beyond a leak, including eyeglasses, may become contaminated due to exhaled droplets, as demonstrated in OSHA study (Stephenson, medRxiv 2021 -- preprint).

Knotting ear loops

The fit and filtration efficiency of medical procedure masks with ear loops can be significantly improved by knotting the ear loops and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face (see illustration), according to research conducted on manikins by the CDC. This was shown to reduce exposure to aerosols from a cough by 64.5%.

Double masking

Wearing a medical mask (i.e., a blue "procedure" mask) under a cloth mask improves protection, (likely by minimizing leaks between the medical mask and skin), but wearing a medical mask over a cloth mask has less benefit. A study found that wearing a medical mask under a cloth mask increased the filtration efficiency of cloth masks (which, alone, were 41 to 44% efficient), as well as medical masks (which, alone, were 43 to 62% efficient). Adding a medical mask beneath a cloth mask increased fitted filtration efficiencies to 66% for a simple cotton ear-loop mask, 77% for a cotton bandana, and 81% for a gaiter. Doubling a medical mask was not as effective, nor was doubling cloth masks — which also reduced breathability (Sickbert-Bennett, JAMA Intern Med 2021).

Nose wires

Be aware that, while adding a nose wire to masks can improve their fit (and therefore, possibly reduce air leakage and improve protection). They seem to be of benefit with stiffer masks but; but not with masks made with stretchy or more flexible material (O'Kelly, medRxiv 2021 -- preprint).

Try not to bend over while wearing a mask

Researchers at Columbia University who were fit testing N95 respirators found that normal breathing and talking did not negatively affect mask fit, and turning the head from side to side slightly improved fit (perhaps due to tightening). However, moving the head up and down slightly worsened fit, and bending over decreased proper fit by as much as 50%. The researchers suggested kneeling rather than bending over when wearing a mask (Chen, medRxiv 2020 -- preprint).

Mask fitters

Masks fitters are a "frame" that can be placed over masks to improve the fit and "seal" of the mask against the face to reduce air leakage and increase inhalation filtration efficiency. Using mannequins that could "breathe," researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that placing either of two marketed mask fitters over a variety of masks increased inhalation filtration efficiencies from just 7% without the fitter to 26% for a 4-ply cotton mask, from 52% to 63% for a 3-ply spunbond polypropylene mask, from 44% to 91% for a surgical mask, and from only 18% up to as much as 95% for a 3-ply disposable non-medical mask with a melt-blown polypropylene center. Sign in to learn make a mask fitter at home or buy either of the two used in the study.

Nylon stockings

Another way to reduce air leaks was suggested by a study at Northeastern University in Boston, which showed that pulling an 8 to 10-inch tube of nylon (cut from a queen-sized nylon stocking) down over a regular mask and to the top of the neck. This significantly prevented air leakage around the mask and improved particle filtration efficiency, making the combined masking nearly as effective as an N-95 respirator which, unlike a medical mask, has an electrostatic charge and is specifically designed to prevent air leakage (Mueller, medRxiv 2020 --preprint; Godoy, 4/22/20).

Similarly, a study found that adding a sleeve of nylon hosiery over a medical procedural mask with ear loops (Cardinal Health Inc) increased its overall filtration efficiency from just 38.5% to 80%. Other techniques that created a better fit for the procedure mask to reduce air leakage included tying the ear loops and tucking in the side pleats (see video demonstration), which increased filtration efficiency to 60.3%, or securing the ear loops with ear guards (61.7%), a hair clip (64.8%) or placing three rubber bands across the front of the mask and looped on the ears (78.2%) (Clapp, JAMA Intern Med 2020).

How to reduce eyeglass fogging from masks

Our tests indicated that eyeglasses were less likely to fog in cool air with masks that 1) came up higher on the nose and cheeks (allowing glasses to sit over the edge of the mask 2) had a bendable top frame that could be contoured for a close fit around the nose and cheeks, 3) had adjustable ear or head bands, allowing the mask to be tight against the face, and 4) had an outer layer of 100% polyester or chiffon rather than a cotton or cotton/polyester blend. Find out which masks had the least fogging.

Lens fogging may also be minimized by rinsing lenses with highly diluted liquid soap and then air drying (stand lenses up so excess drips off) (Hu, J Emerg Nurs 2020). This leaves a surfactant film that reduces surface tension and causes water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer, reducing fogging (Margrain, Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2011). Anti-fogging sprays and wipes are also sold, but be sure to follow directions and allow liquids to dry before wearing to avoid eye irritation or injury from the liquid. (A CL member reported severe eye irritation after using JAWS Spit Gel which seems to have gotten into his eye after a COVID nasal test that caused eye tearing) (Peng, Cornea 2006). Eye injury has also been reported in healthcare workers in China who used anti-fog spray on medical goggles (Hu, J Emerg Nurs 2020).

Single-sided and double-sided tape strips can also be used to seal the edges of masks around the eyes and nose to reduce fogging. ConsumerLab purchased two tape strip products sold on Amazon, MaskTite Adhesive Strips and Cabeau Tape. We tried each with the masks in this review, and with a disposable mask, while wearing glasses. [Sign in to see our reviews of these tapes and our mask reviews.]

How to clean a cloth mask

The CDC advises that cloth masks be washed daily (and after high exposure) with soap and water. The agency also suggests each person have at least two cloth masks, likely so that one can be used while the other is being cleaned. It notes that "cloth can be used for an extended period as long as they are not wet or soiled, but do not reuse them unless washed and cleaned." Masks should not be worn while still wet, as the agency states that the filtration effectiveness may be reduced. The FDA recommends choosing a cloth mask that can be washed and machine dried without damage or change in shape.

Cloth masks can be washed in a washing machine. They can also be cleaned using heat, but a washing machine is preferred. Silk and chiffon fabrics may need to be hand washed with cold water.

If you've purchased a mask, check with the fabric manufacturer or see the care instructions on the label. If hand washing is required, be sure to use adequate soap/detergent and rinse thoroughly, as soap helps to break down the lipid layer that allows SARS-Cov-2 to attach to surfaces. Some sturdier silk and chiffon blends, such as poly-spandex-chiffon, can be machine washed with warm water and tumbled dry if placed in a mesh bag for delicates.

Re-using N95s?
Currently, the CDC recommends re-using a single N95 respirator no more than five times. It also advises healthcare workers "wear one N95 FFR each day and store it in a breathable paper bag at the end of each shift with a minimum of five days between each N95 FFR use, rotating the use each day between N95 FFRs," noting that this "will provide some time for pathogens on it to "die off" during storage."

A study of 3M N95 respirators (dome-shaped duckbill models) worn by healthcare workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital caring for COVID-19 patients found that all N95s worn less than 12 times (and stored between uses) passed seal check and fit testing. Even when used about 40 times, 83% still passed these tests. The study implied that the masks had not been subject to decontamination procedures but they may have been somewhat protected from pathogen contamination as they were typically worn with face shields (Fabre, medRxiv 2020 -- preprint).

Preventing mask-related skin irritation and acne

Keeping masks clean can also help prevent skin irritation, acne, and other skin conditions that can be caused by or exacerbated by wearing a mask, including eczema (contact dermatitis), rosacea, and folliculitis (inflammation/infection of hair follicles). Although the term "maskne" has become a common term to describe skin irritation and eruptions after wearing masks, contact dermatitis appears to be the most common skin irritation associated with wearing masks. All of these conditions can be aggravated by humidity within the mask, increased bacterial load on the skin, and friction from mask material. In addition to replacing and/or cleaning masks regularly, dermatologists recommend applying light moisturizer 30 minutes before putting on your mask and maintaining good oral hygiene to help minimize the risk of skin irritation. You can find more information and the full list of tips for skin care when wearing masks in this article (see "General measures to prevent PPE related facial dermatoses") (Rud, BMJ 2021).

Effect on breathing function and potential carbon dioxide buildup

When wearing an N95 respirator or a well-fitted mask with high blocking efficiency there can be some carbon dioxide buildup inside the mask over time (Sinkule, Ann Occup Hyg 2013). According to researchers at Stanford University, N95 masks are "are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. That's significant, even for a healthy person. It can cause dizziness and lightheadedness." However, a small study in the U.S. found that wearing an N-95 mask for up to one hour did not cause any significant adverse effects in healthy healthcare workers performing moderate activities, despite significantly decreased inhaled oxygen and increased inhaled carbon dioxide levels (Roberge, Respir Care 2010). A representative from the CDC told that "...the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache but you most likely [would] not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2. The mask can become uncomfortable for a variety of reasons including a sensitivity to CO2 and the person will be motivated to remove the mask. It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia [elevated blood levels of carbon dioxide]."

On the other hand, surgical masks (also known as medical masks), which are inherently not as well-fitting as N95 respirators, do not lead to CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency, as noted by the World Health Organization. Several studies have demonstrated this. For example, a study among 20 healthy adults showed that moderate exercise (walking on a treadmill) for one hour while wearing a surgical mask led to only slight, clinically non-significant changes in CO2 levels (as measured on the skin) compared to exercise without a mask (Respir Physiol Neurobiol 2012). Even during vigorous exercise (cycling to exhaustion, an average of about 10 minutes) a study among 14 healthy men and women showed that wearing a disposable surgical mask or a three-layer cloth mask (Washable 3D Face Mask, TriMax Sports Inc. — made with bamboo charcoal cloth, non-woven fabric, and Lycra) had no effect on blood or muscle oxygenation or exercise performance compared exercising without a mask (Shaw, Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020).

Furthermore, a study of 10 healthcare workers (including individuals with controlled asthma and four smokers), found that wearing a surgical mask (AFLUID, made of three layers of polypropylene and one layer of liquid resistant polyethylene) continuously for four hours did not reduce breathing function (Ciocan, Med Lav 2020). Additionally, older adults who wore a three-layer disposable nonmedical face mask with ear loops (Boomcare DY95 model, Deyce Leather Co Ltd) for one hour showed no decline in self-reported blood oxygen levels (as measured by pulse oximeter) (Chan, JAMA 2020).

Another study showed that, even among older adults (average age 71) with breathing difficulty due to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), wearing a surgical mask during a six-minute walk test did not result in any major changes in CO2 retention (Samannan, Ann Am Thorac Soc 2020). The researchers suggested that discomfort while wearing a surgical mask might be caused by the increased warmth of facial skin and inhaled air inside the mask, which may trigger sensations of anxiety or claustrophobia in some people.

The CDC advises that face masks should not be placed on children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who would not be able to remove the mask without assistance.

Inhalation of microplastics and OPEs

Concern has been raised about the risk of inhaling microplastic particles when wearing a mask made of polypropylene or other materials containing plastics. A study in China found that most masks increased the inhalation of fiber-like microplastics but notably decreased the risk of inhalation of spherical particles. While some evidence has suggested that fiber-like microplastics may be more toxic to animals than spherical microplastics (Ziajahromi, Environ Sci Technol 2017), the investigators concluded that, overall, inhalation of microplastics from masks is a small problem compared to the risk of spreading COVID-19 without a mask, as people already regularly inhale high amounts of microplastics from the air, with or without a face mask.

The study found that only N95 respirators reduced the risk of inhaling fiber-like microplastic particles compared to not wearing a mask, while a nonwoven mask, a fashion mask, and a cotton mask increased it by 17%, 41%, and 54%, respectively, surgical masks increased it by about 4% to 73%, and activated charcoal mask increased it by 117%. Inhalation of spherical microplastic particles was reduced by about 47% to 96% for all masks compared to not wearing a mask.

Disinfecting any of the masks with UV irradiation, alcohol, air blower treatment, washing with soap and water, or exposure to sunlight increased the microplastic inhalation risk compared to untreated masks, although the risk was only small following washing with water and was lowest following exposure to sunlight. Alcohol disinfection increased the risk of microplastic inhalation most significantly (Li J Hazard Mater 2020).

Polypropylene and other plastic materials used to make KN95 respirators, medical, surgical and other types of masks are often treated with organophosphate esters (OPEs) which, at high concentrations and with prolonged exposure to OPEs through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact have been linked with cancer and other adverse effects. Sign in to the full answer to see what researchers found when they looked at the risk of inhaling OPEs when wearing masks.

Are KN95 respirators as good as N95s?

N95 and KN95 masks (or, more technically, respirators) are designed to protect you, as well as others around you. Both are supposed to filter 95% of particles down to 0.3 microns. However, as discussed below, this isn't always the case with widely sold KN95 masks (which are designed to meet Chinese, rather than U.S. specifications). In addition, while N95 respirators attach with head bands to help ensure the best fit, most KN95s attach with ear loops, which may cause a loose or improper fit, and allow for air leakage. A study of N95 and KN95 respirators have shown that mask performance depends, in part, on the tightness of the contact between the material and the facial skin and masks that tied around the head outperform those with elastic ear loops (Sickbert-Bennett, JAMA Intern Med 2020). As discussed above, how you move while wearing a mask may also affect fit.

Nevertheless, due to the previous shortage of N95 masks, in April 2020 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided guidance that KN95 masks certified to China's GB2636 standards of 2006 or 2019 (imprinted on masks as "GB2626-2006" or "GB2626-2019") "will provide greater protection than surgical masks (i.e., facemasks, other than surgical N95s[3]), homemade masks, or improvised mouth and nose covers, such as bandanas and scarves." Caution: You should not buy a KN95 mask that does not have its GB2626-2006 or GB2626-2019 imprinted on it.

Tests of KN95s from China by the CDC show that the filtration efficacy of some KN95 masks is 95% or higher but can be as low as 5.3%. Furthermore, tests by ECRI, an independent, U.S. based non-profit organization that evaluates equipment for hospitals and healthcare systems, showed that 5 of 11 KN95s did not meet the filtration efficiency standard of 95%. ECRI also found large variations in filtration efficiencies of KN95s within the same lot from a single manufacturer, suggesting quality control issues. (You can download ECRI's test results, which includes manufacturer information and photos of the respirators tested by clicking on "PPE Testing Report" on this page on ECRI's site).

Buying a KN95
Starting in 2020, the FDA published and maintained a list of N-95 and KN95 respirators from China given emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA during the pandemic. However, as of July 6, 2021, due to the increased supply and availability of NIOSH-approved respirators, the FDA has revoked its authorization of non-NIOSH approved respirators manufactured in China for healthcare workers. Respirators with previous EUA status may still be marketed to the general public, but must be labeled as face masks, rather than respirators.

Update: On August 25, 2021, the FDA announced that federal approval of respirators made by particular manufacturer has been revoked due to concerns about the quality of the products. Sign in for the details.

Finding the Best KN95 Mask
N95 masks are currently very hard to find and purchase as they remain reserved for healthcare and frontline workers. In contrast, KN95 masks are widely available for purchase on websites such as Amazon. However, it can be very difficult to know if a KN95 mask is genuine and effective. We reviewed many KN95 masks sold on Amazon but found only one currently on the FDA's list of authorized respirators that we recommend, and we found two that should be avoided. We also found an FDA-authorized KN95 through an online direct distributor in the U.S. Sign in to get the details and see our Top Picks.

The CDC publishes a list and images of dozens of counterfeit and falsely marketed respirators. Signs of a counterfeit respirator include no approval number or NIOSH markings, decorative fabrics or add-ons, and claims of being approved for children.

Other respirators

Before N95 respirators became more available, the United States Department of Labor, noted that healthcare workers who were unable to obtain N95 respirators could use R95, R99, P95, P99, P100 and others respirators. Like N95 masks, these are expected to filter out a minimum of 95% of particles of the most penetrating size, and those ending in a "99" or "100" filter out at least 99% or 99.97%, respectively, of such particles but can be more difficult to breathe through. R95 and P95 masks are typically used for protection when working with oil-based substances like fuel, paints, solvents, or pesticides. N95s are not resistant to oil, R95s are "somewhat resistant" and P95s are "strongly resistant to oil or oil proof," as shown in the CDC's infographic about these types of masks. If considering an alternative respirator, make sure it is NIOSH approved. Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used when trying to protect others. (See a video demonstration by researchers at Florida Atlantic University of how aerosols can spread when coughing while wearing an N95 mask with a valve).

KF94 respirators from Korea are often promoted as the Korean "equivalent" to N95 respirators, but this is not quite accurate. Although they can have relatively high filtration efficacy, KF94 masks are considered "public use" respirators and are not held to the same performance standards as Korea's Special 1st class "occupational use" respirators (which are considered to be roughly equivalent to NIOSH approved N95 masks). KF94 respirators are designed to have a filtration efficacy of 94%, and CDC tests of one brand of KF94 found its filtration efficacy to be even higher (99.85 to 99.94%). However, unlike all NIOSH-approved N95s (which attach with head bands), KF94 respirators attach with ear loops, which, the CDC points out, may compromise their fit and efficacy. The CDC did not perform fit testing on the KF94s it tested and noted a lack of information about manufacturing quality control. In addition, unlike surgical N95 respirators, KF94 respirators are not considered fluid resistant (Kim, J Korean Med Sci 2020).

Electrical air purifying respirators that mimic powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) are available on Amazon, ranging in price from about $60 to $100, but these devices would not be suitable for preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the general public. These devices include a portable high efficiency (HE) filter that can be connected to a face mask via a flexible hose/air duct to supply fresh air to the wearer. By ventilating air from the HE filter to the mask, these devices should create positive air pressure. This means that air exhaled by the wearer would leak out of the mask. Consequently, these devices might protect the wearer if the ventilation is strong enough, but they would not protect individuals nearby the wearer.

Furthermore, unlike NIOSH-certified PAPRs, which are rated as being more effective than N-95 masks, available electrical air purifying respirators do not appear to be certified. Therefore, it is uncertain if these devices even help protect the wearer. In addition, similar to other personal ("wearable") air purifiers, these devices might not be permitted on airplanes, as security officers can confiscate these devices if they feel they are unsafe or cause a threat.

Are copper masks better?

Copper has been shown to inactivate a wide variety of bacteria and some viruses, typically within minutes to hours of contact, and a study found that SARS-CoV-2 (at about 72°F and 40% relative humidity) was undetectable on copper after four hours (van Dormalen, NEJM (correspondence) 2020). There do not appear to be studies showing how effective masks made with copper or copper infused fabric are against SARS-Cov-2. However, preliminary research with other viruses suggests a possible benefit. A study funded by the maker of copper masks (Cupron) for healthcare and institutional use, showed that an N95 mask with two added layers of copper oxide infused material (polypropylene fabric containing 2.2% weight/weight copper particles) had a similar filtering efficacy as a regular N95 mask, but was much more effective in inactivating human influenza A virus (H1N1) and avian influenza virus (H9N2) (Barkow, PLoS One 2010). A University of Massachusetts Amherst microbiologist developed a reusable mask made of 99.95% pure copper mesh, which, according to a university news release, was shown to "kill 90% of microbes within five minutes of contact." In Hong Kong, the government is distributing fabric masks to the public that contain copper, known as the CuMask+ (Parry, BMJ 2020). According to the manufacturer, CuMask+ is made up six layers, "two of which are specially made with small quantities of copper." Tests published by the company suggest it retains antiviral activity with up to 60 washes (handwashed with soap and cold water). If you use a copper-containing mask, be sure to clean it regularly and according to the product instructions: Bacteria and viruses can cling to dirt or other particles on copper, making it less effective (Grass, Appl Environ Microbiol 2011).

Some concerns have been raised about the safety of copper masks and the possibility of breathing in copper particles. While we don't have safety information for specific products, laboratory studies that measured the amount of copper released from copper oxide impregnated masks during 5 hours under simulated breathing conditions was far below the respiratory copper permissible exposure limit (PEL) set by the USA Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") (Borkow, Curr Chem Biol 2012).

How to protect yourself from COVID-19 in a car

Preliminary research suggests that viral loads can quickly build up within a closed car, even during rides as brief as 15 minutes. Wearing a mask, as well as a face shield, are good first steps to help protect yourself and others. When there are two people in a car (one driver and one passenger) seating the passenger in the back seat on the opposite side of the driver creates the most distance between them. To increase ventilation, computer modeling research shows that riding with all windows down is most effective. Since this isn't always practical, the next most effective way to increase ventilation is by opening one window in the back and one in the front, opposite of where the occupants sit, creating airflow across the interior of the car. Keeping all the windows closed and running the air-conditioning, is least effective (Mathai, Sci Adv 2020). Keep in mind that none of these steps eliminate the risk of infection.

How to improve safety for bus passengers and drivers

A study of aerosol flow on a school bus and transit bus that were driven under real-world conditions showed that mask wearing and ventilation can significantly reduce exposure to aerosols for passengers (Edwards, medRxiv 2021 -- preprint). Based on their experiments, the researchers recommended the following tips to help reduce exposure to aerosols for bus passengers:

  • Require all passengers and drivers to wear masks on buses. Even a cloth mask that's 50% efficient can reduce particles released from a cough by 50% and reduce their dispersal by several feet.
  • Open windows partially or fully. This can reduce airborne particles by 50% to 80%.
  • Consider seating arrangements that only allow for same household or same cohort passengers to sit together.
  • Social distancing of six feet is not practical on most buses, but any extra distance allows the air movement to reduce exposure to infectious particles.

For bus drivers, the researchers recommended risk could be reduced by using a dashboard fan to create airflow in the driver seat area. They also noted that, when safe to do so, opening all transit bus doors at every stop would allow for better air exchange.

What masks protect against wildfire smoke?

Cloth masks, including those with sewn-in or removable filters, should not be relied on for protection from wildfire smoke, according to the CDC. They protect against some of the larger particles in wildfire smoke, but not from smaller particles in smoke that can damage the lungs. In addition, one-strap paper dust masks and surgical masks, worn alone, are not recommended for wildfire smoke protection.

It is recommended that people who have to be outdoors in wildfire affected areas wear fit-tested, NIOSH-approved N95 or P100 respirators, and the CDC notes that properly fitted N95 respirators can "provide protection from wildfire smoke and from COVID-19 for the individuals wearing them." To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others, N95 masks without valves are recommended. If an N95 mask with a valve is your only option for wildfire smoke protection, consider covering the valve with tape or wearing a surgical mask over the N95 when around others, as recommended by John Balms, M.D. at UCSF.
According to the CDC, KN95 respirators can also provide protection from wildfire smoke, and advises looking for a KN95 that meets requirements similar to those set by the CDC's NIOSH (see our Top Pick among KN95 masks, which was tested by the CDC).


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September 13, 2021

BTW Vida masks have terrible backlog and ship times. Placed order on Aug 14, 2021 and tomorrow is Sept 13, 2021, and I am still waiting. I did not order a customized art mask, these were the basic solid ones and were “in-stock”. To no avail I am asking yet not getting any ETA on when they will ship them. However, the did charge my card right away when order was placed.

September 20, 2021

August 21, 2021

I find the Bona Fide mask too snug. I don't have a large face but it isn't narrow and I've never had a mask be too snug until now. I ordered KN95 masks from and they're much more comfortable. They have the GB2626-2006 imprint so just hoping they're legit.

August 18, 2021

Is there any risk in having the Moderma vaccine and being anemic? The effects I had after the second Moderma shot was terrifying and I hesitate on getting a booster shot.
August 24, 2021

For details about risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination in people with anemia, see the following section in our CL Answer about the COVID-19 vaccines:

August 16, 2021

RE: Vida cloth masks. Your original review mentioned the small size. FYI, since your review, they've started offering a large version. (And even the regular size seems bigger than the ones I bought last summer.) I tried the large one, & like it better, especially when using a surgical mask underneath. Also, their original had a filter pocket open on only one side. Now BOTH sides are open, AND they include a folded cardboard filter inserter to make it easier.

August 2, 2021

A friend of mine purchased 3M1860, NIOSH N95 Lot B21114 masks. Other numbers on this mask are: TC-84A-0006 and says Healthcare Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask. Do you or does anyone know anything about these masks?
August 4, 2021

You can see CDC test reports for several lots of 3M1860 N95s on the CDC's website Please note that, as stated on the page, these tests were not conducted as part of the NIOSH approval process and "in no way lead to or preclude NIOSH approval through the official approval process." In looking through these reports, we did not find the Lot number you listed (you can find the Lot number on the product images). Some were found to provide filtration efficiencies expected for an N95, while another Lot number was listed on the report as "likely counterfeit" as per 3M (

July 30, 2021

Are the top pick mask to be disposed of after one day’s wear?
July 30, 2021

If not wet, torn, or soiled, it is probably fine to use these for multiple days, although we are not aware of data on extended use.

July 28, 2021

Based on the recommendation here I ordered several of your Top Pick among KN95 masks. I find the masks comfortable and easy to use. My only caveat is that if one wants to reuse the mask, be somewhat careful in removing it. Twice I have pulled the elastic out of the attachment when I removed the mask. It cannot be repaired because it leaves a hole in the mask where the elastic was attached. Thank you, ConsumerLab, for your extensive research.

July 30, 2021

Thanks for the tip!

April 22, 2021

I purchased two of the Atelier masks. I compared the measurements provided on the merchant's website to other masks we own, and I opted for the adult large (aka men's). The masks are well-made, comfortable, and breathable. The Atelier has a stiffer nose wire than some other masks. While this makes it a little more challenging to form to one's nose, once you get it right, it also helps to keep glasses from fogging. As others have noted, these masks do now come with adjustable ear straps. My only difficulty is that the material in front of the ear gathers in such a way that a gap forms. My husband had the same issue. Perhaps the smaller (women's) size would fit us better. The Vistaprint adult large still fits us best. I do not have a financial interest in either company.

April 7, 2021

I found the earloops from the WWDOLL KN95 mask too tight and hurt my ear lobes. My GF said the same. If the loops had more stretch it would be more comfortable like the Powecom, which I normally purchase from Bonafide Masks. You might review the medical grade surgical masks made by Armbrust USA. They are made in Texas, ASTM level 3. Also they purchased most of all the masks sold on Amazon and show testing on YouTube for durability of loops and filtration results in segments.
April 7, 2021

Thanks for sharing your experience. We agree that the ear loops are a bit less elastic on the WWDOLL than the Powecom, which can make the WWDOLL a little less comfortable. You might want to consider, if you have not already, the headband option on the Powecom, avoiding issues with ear loops entirely. We'll look into the masks at Armbrust.

April 7, 2021

I ordered the Conico face masks and found it did not prevent fogging at all. The material was too soft and when inhaling, it would get sucked into my nostrils or mouth making it hard to breathe. Also mask edges would not fit securely around the face and some edges had to be pulled out due to its softness. One of my worst purchases.

March 3, 2021

I’ve been using fusible (Pellon brand) interfacing in my homemade masks. You now recommend sew in, not fusible interfacing. Can you tell us why - what’s the difference?
March 3, 2021

Hi Julia, fusible interfacing can contain heat-activated adhesives which you may want to avoid inhaling.

February 3, 2021

The Powecom KN95 Face Mask is also available in black from your recommended source Bona Fide Masks. Was the black version tested, or is there any reason to believe it would be less effective than the white/

February 3, 2021

I ordered a Conico mask from the maker's website, for a teenager. I paid for media mail, because I wanted it to arrive in good condition. If it fits him, I'll try Etsy next time. Conico provides a tracking number. They notify you when it ships. When they thought it had shipped, the tracking number reported that it had been received by them but not labeled. It took much longer than the shop thought it had for the shipping department to label the package, and it came in a Tyvex bag, not a box..

February 8, 2021

Hi Carol22011,
Apparently the shipping was bad?, but how was the mask?

January 31, 2021

The KN95 Powecom Mask from Bona Fide are excellent. Fit is snug especially with the two bands rather than the ear loops. the company is also excellent, very good price and very quick delivery. Thank you ConsumerLab for the information

January 25, 2021

I have tried the Filti inserts for my masks but find that the material will not hold shape, folds over itself and slides around in the mask pocket. Is anyone aware of a similar material that has some more "stiffness" and will hold shape somewhat?

January 28, 2021

I purchased two yards of Olyfun polypropylene and cut my own filters. Inexpensive and enough material to last for nearly a year.

Mark and Connie22021
February 3, 2021

I am not familiar with the Filti inserts, however have read from someone who designated himself as a physician, that if needed one or two Kleenex folded to fit in filter pockets was pretty good extra filtration and of course just discard after use. It would seem that this would hold your filti in place and offer extra filtration.

February 20, 2021

I had trouble with Filti with the rounded shaped face masks. When I cut the Filti fabric I used the outside of the cloth mask as my guide. Then I made a pleat in the Filti fabric by cutting a slit in the top at the nose curve and overlapping the cut edges and putting a few sewing stitches. This created a 3-D curved shape at the top of the Filti material that fit into the curved nose part of the mask and the Filti material stayed in place. Now I use the square pleated type mask (fits me better) and have no issues.

January 24, 2021

The masks that fit my narrow face most snugly are the BonaFide Powecom mask and the Atelier women’s mask. Thanks both to you for reviewing these masks and to readers who have posted about their own mask fit and fogging experiences. I have no financial interest in either company.

Mark and Connie22022
February 3, 2021

Thank you, I too have a narrow face and was looking at that.

February 4, 2021

I hope the mask(s) work for you. It was hard for me to find a mask that fit.

January 13, 2021

Thank you for the reviews. I ordered the Powecom KN95 masks, because I have to fly frequently (short distance , 2 hours). So far, so good! I also pay a bit extra for a seat in the front (small aircraft) to minimize risk.

January 10, 2021

Since I haven’t been to a hairdresser since last February, my hair is now long enough to wear in a pony tail. I have discovered that I can loop the mask ear loops over my pony tail in opposite directions, and they keep my mask (cloth, surgical or KN95) tight to my face and don’t hurt my ears. And my pony tail stays in place too. That way, I don’t need another device to loop ear masks to. And I don’t have any discomfort behind my ears from trying to adjust my ear loops.

Mark and Connie21942
January 24, 2021

That's how to tie on a surgical mask with loose straps to stay on correctly, overlap them, great you figured this out! The ponytail is the cool part!! Great going!!

January 7, 2021

In my experience "Medical Grade" tape works better than most of the tape strips sold for masks (or search on "toupe tape" or "surgical tape"). This is the best solution for eyeglass fogging and the "nose cleavage" leakage it is the symptom of. With good tape I've found I don't even need to replace it every time, it retains enough stickiness that I can take it on and off multiple times and it still forms enough of a seal to prevent fogging / leakage. FWIW, here is the product that worked for me: (I have no financial interest in any tape or mask product.)

January 30, 2021

This is the exact tape I purchased (see my comment below). No financial interest for me, either. I also found this tape to be very effective and long-lasting, but I did have to split the 1" width into 1/4" or 1/3" strips. For those with very sensitive skin, be forewarned that it can really pull when removing your mask. This gets better after a few uses but may still be irritating for some people.

January 3, 2021

Anyone else using CovaFlu K95 mask? I am happy with them.

December 28, 2020

With the Atelier, I've had no fogging at all going from outside cold to inside with glasses for work. The only thing is the red lace version I purchased in Large - Men's only just barely folds under the chin. It can slide up easily if the top is adjusted and I'm not sure it's a sufficiently closed fit. I thought it would be longer.

December 29, 2020

UPDATE: It seems that I was the first male to order the red lace mask, and by mistake they sent me a women's large. Replacement on the way. If there's no further update, assume the sizing for men is correct.
December 29, 2020

Thank you for the update Gene. Please let us know how the men's large fits once you receive it.

January 24, 2021

I find that the Atelier is flimsy enough that when I breathe in and out, it sucks against my nose and mouth, then flaps out again. Very disconcerting. I have no financial interest in this or any other product.

May 21, 2021

Update: I discovered that I was wearing the mask inside out. It is more comfortable now, and I no longer have condensation against my nose now that the cotton layer is inside and the poly outside. I have no financial interest in this or any other product.

December 21, 2020

The Atelier does help with eyeglass fogging and is comfortable, but I was disappointed that it barely covers my chin. I emailed the company but didn’t hear back.

January 11, 2021

In your 1/9/21 update, a new section titled "Try not to bend over while wearing a mask" describes a study in which bending over worsened the fit of an N95 by as much as 50%. Should it be assumed that this may also apply to other types of masks, eg, surgical masks and cloth masks? -- Pamela Mausner
January 11, 2021

The researchers did not test other mask types, but it seems reasonable to assume that other masks types would be similarly affected by the downward pull of gravity when bending over, as this reduces the pull of the mask toward the face.

September 2, 2021

Respirator fit testing involves activities such as looking from side to side, nodding up and down, bending over at the waist, and reading a passage aloud, while infiltration of a chemical released outside the mask is measured from inside the mask.

It often takes several attempts with different mask designs and sizes before one is found to fit without leaking. Changes in weight can alter fit, requiring re-testing. My normal mask size/brand was out of stock in 2020, and I had to try several before finding one that passed the fit test. Obviously at the bedside it's necessary to be able to move around while wearing a mask without having any leaks. The same is true when using masks in fire season.

With COVID, especially when masks were in very short supply, finding a brand and size that worked without leaking was difficult. And many more people needed them than normally. I've wondered if a different rim material might seal better, or if a custom frame with replaceable flat filters is preferable. I've also seen headgear advertised that is designed to fit over simple procedure masks, eliminating leaks. Since leaks dramatically reduce filtration effect, anything that eliminates them is highly desirable. I've used medical tape in a pinch, but it's not ideal. It's especially uncomfortable to peel off from under the eyes.

December 20, 2020

I have the Giftington and Proper masks. I have high cheek bones and a narrow face and these masks fit the best. I feel most secure in the Giftington. I prefer the over the head versions versus over the ear as they provide a tighter fit. The Proper masks comes with reusable filters, so that's a plus.

Anne 21594
December 16, 2020

I purchased the WWDOLL KN95 face masks back when that was your only top pick for KN95 masks. The WWDOLL mask fit my husband's face well but did not work for me at all. I had to switch back to my ASTM level 3 surgical mask to feel safer. Different facial structures will need different style masks to get a good fit.

Mark and Connie21601
December 18, 2020

Good point.

February 4, 2021

These masks have shorter ear elastics. They pull the ear forward (like Dumbo) & rub the skin to the point of a rash.

February 22, 2021

I have the exact same problem. Most masks appear to be sized for men.

December 16, 2020

Based on your recommendation, I purchased the Atelier mask. It DOES really help with the glass fogging but it barely reaches my chin, so I’m not sure if I should be wearing it. I emailed the company and hope they address it.
December 16, 2020

We're glad to hear you found this mask helpful for fogging! Masks will fit each person a little differently, but they should provide full coverage for the chin. The Atelier mask is available in sizes medium and large for adults, so if you like the mask it may be worth measuring and comparing with the mask dimensions provided on their website. For example, we tried the large size, which measures 6 inches in length (from the top of the mask at the nose to under the chin), 4.75 inches in width at the top of mask (from the top of the nose across the top of the cheeks) and 4.25 inches in width at the bottom of the mask (along the jawline). For the medium size, these measurements are 5.5, 4.5 and 4 inches, respectively.

December 14, 2020

For what it's worth, I agree with your review re: Stark's masks. Whatever their redeeming qualities may be, they are small on both my and my wife's face, fog both of our glasses (which makes them almost unwearable in the December weather) and because they don't have elastic ears bands, it can be hard to put them on and not exactly comfortable to wear. Because of their small size, when I wore them, I was always having to re-adjust them to cover my mouth AND nose when I talked. I recently bought a second pair because their "promos" said they were "improved," but the new set was essentially not any different than my first pair that we bought early on.

January 6, 2021

I haven't experienced these issues with my Stark's mask. I have found that the piece that can be pulled up over my nose really helps keep glasses from fogging up (I can tuck it under the bottom of my glasses). I can talk without it slipping out of place - it stays secure under my chin. Maybe my face size is best suited to the Stark's mask. I think my face size (I'm a woman) would be considered small/medium. The Stark's mask fits snuggly on my face and I can adjust the behind-the-ear stretchy straps to fit more tightly if I want. My husband (who has a bigger nose than me) does not find this mask good a fit. Also, I find the stretchy ear straps more comfortable than the skinny ones on the surgical masks. I find the masks easier to breath through also. I have washed them several times (both by hand and in the machine) and they wash beautifully. For extra protection I wear a disposable surgical mask over this cloth mask if I feel I need to.
This review is based on my own personal experience and I do not have a financial interest in this company or any other mask company.

December 9, 2020

Hello, I just saw the update on reusing N95 masks. Is there any research on reusing KN95s? Thanks.
December 9, 2020

We have not seen any reports like that yet.

December 7, 2020

Regarding fogging of glasses: my optician recommended a product called FogAway, which is an anti-fog spray. He swears by it. I bought it from Amazon - where the reviews are great - and am in the process of testing it out while wearing different masks. I have no financial interest in this product or any other anti-fog spray. I thought that CL might want to test it since so many people are still experiencing fogging with various masks.

December 10, 2020

FogAway type products work well but are virtually impossible to remove by ordinary means, especially on eyeglass lens, most of which are coated polycarbonate and can be damaged by many chemicals and hard rubbing, even with a soft cloth.

December 16, 2020

But it could work well on shields and goggles, where fogging is a huge problem now that winter is here. The question is whether it would damage them - but some are cheap enough that it is worth a try.

Victoria 21526
December 6, 2020

I wear eyeglasses and decided to try 2 of your top picks for fogging . I ordered Giftington and Atelier. I find the Giftington uncomfortable and it fogs much more than the atelier which works well for me. I think face shape must enter into why this is. Just thought I would share (I have no financial interest in either company)
December 6, 2020

Yes, face shape definitely plays a role, Victoria. How would you describe your own face shape?

December 8, 2020

I've used the WWDOLL KN95 Face Mask from Amazon fitted to my face with the Essential Mask Brace from They seem to work much better together
(see pic: )

December 2, 2020

While many people, including myself, have issues with glasses fogging, my real concern is that if the seal around the nose on these masks is loose enough to fog breathing out, then isn't it loose enough to let unfiltered air into my lungs breathing in? The fogging is just the symptom of what I suspect could be a much worse problem.
December 2, 2020

Yes. You're correct, which is why finding a mask with a good fit around the nose/cheeks is important,as is the proper nosewire bending and positioning, good straps, and/or use of ancillary wires, tapes, etc. We continue to purchase and try additional masks with a focus on this issue.

July 26, 2021

Heres a trick I learned wearing a mask all day on the job. Fold a kleenex facial tissue 3 times into a 1/2 " strip from one end. Cut off the rest. Take the folded strip and 3 small pieces of masking tape. Tape the strip at the nose wire inside the mask at the ends of the kleenex and where the bridge of your nose will be. Positioned right, the kleenex strip will help a lot with stopping eyeglass fogging and filtration.

November 30, 2020

CL might want to evaluate a mask now sold into US markets from Israel which makes a case for their incorporation of zinc oxide in the mask as an antimicrobial

December 2, 2020

Read reviews on Amazon and decided no. I have no financial interest in this product or competing products.

December 14, 2020

I bought the Sonovia mask and it works fine, more comfortable than most, but like other masks that go behind the ear, it was too painful. Went to Giftington and love them.

November 30, 2020

Based on CL's recommendation, I ordered a Giftington mask and received it yesterday. I had been wearing two-layer 100% cotton masks with a nose wire and polypropylene filter. The Giftington fits so much better and is more snug against my face, but it's very easy to breathe. I may add a polypropylene filter if the positive cases in my area continue to climb. Was so impressed, I've ordered three more as Christmas gifts for family members. Thanks, CL.

November 27, 2020

I purchased a couple of anti-fog face mask nose clips on Etsy recently and found them to be a waste of time and money, though other customers seemed to find them helpful. I'm pretty dexterous, and I followed the seller's instructions about customizing them to fit my face, but I still ended up with one misshapen and utterly useless clip and one that I managed to attach to a mask and wear outside for a very foggy walk. I did have luck with double-sided hairpiece tape cut into thin strips, though, and recommend it -- or a similar product -- to anyone whose glasses fog up in cold weather.

November 25, 2020

NEVER before have I received a thank you from a company for ordering, but I did from BonaFide Masks today. It was quick and professional. Thank you for letting us know about ordering from them. Prices were good!


November 29, 2020

Agreed! A series of thank you notes and discount codes. The two sets of masks arrived quickly.

November 25, 2020

I've been using cloth masks from Sauce in Bozeman, MT with my glasses, and have found that the MaskTite tape works really well with these masks while working as a vendor at a local supermarket shelving stocking and shelving tortillas. The only adjustment for fog required now is for two or three minutes between the cooler outdoors and inside the store.

November 18, 2020

My solution to the fogging of glasses issue is the following: I take one of the 4 inch foil-enclosed flexable metal strips at the top of a Starbucks coffee bag and tape it to the inside of the nose area with 3M ScotchBlue Painter's Tapes. It makes the nose strip much stronger. The tape is removable, so it doesn't damage the fabric. I've also taped a strip of the tape over the nose area and onto my nose. It's easy, and doesn't harm the skin. 3M also makes a pink, less sticky form that I've not tried yet. (I have no financial interest in 3M)

November 22, 2020

Very creative idea. Thanks for posing.

November 16, 2020

I already bought my 3rd giffington Mask and love them..good fit, comfortable, feels safe..

November 15, 2020

Maybe you guys could check this one out when it hits the market. LG PURICCARE. It has a HEPA filter and a Fan built in.

November 18, 2020

I've also seen a hepa air purifier, small enough and made to hang around your neck, that I wondered about wearing on a plane. I agree that these devices need to be reviewed.
November 19, 2020

We've included general information about personal or "wearable" air purifiers in our answer to the question about portable air purifiers for COVID-19:

November 15, 2020

Another comment mentioned Debriefme masks. Note that they also sell "nose pads" which form a seal over the nose ( Bad nose seems to me the single biggest point of failure in most masks, and eyeglass fogging is just the easiest way to notice it. You should review solutions to this. If you search amazon on "nose pads mask -eyeglass" you will find a bunch of other such nose pads for better sealing the nose area on masks.

November 14, 2020

Could you please review some of the more popular sports masks that are being offered? Thank you.

November 14, 2020

When I've got time, I have a few more things to add, all of which must begin with the sentiment, "Thank you, ConsumerLab for being one of the only credible, altruistic, science based, consumer watchdogs there is." (In a heartbeat, I'd dismantle the FDA and replace it with CL. But I digress...)

Right now I just need to post a correction to the section about materials for making one's own filters. You list the Filti media as selling for $29 for 29 square yards (about 11¢/sqft). Filti's website currently lists the material at $30 for 21 sqft (2.3 yards, & $1.40/sqft).

November 9, 2020

It's about TIME somebody mentioned hypercapnia. THANK you for mentioning it in this article. Not a medical expert here, but I do believe masks do INDEED increase C02, and here's why; when someone experiences respiratory distress, respiratory failure or even respiratory arrest (providing they CAN be resuscitated), they're administered therapeutic 02 via something called a "non-rebreather mask." That very mask was designed to PREVENT hypercapnia. I couldn't find anything to support my anecdote on NCBI, nor on Science Direct, but capnography studies might suggest variations in 02 saturation in those wearing a mask over time. THE last thing we would want to do to / for a victim in trouble is allow him / her to rebreathe their own CO2, thereby exposing them for the ever-increasing potential of respiratory acidosis. Arguably, an ordinary mask wearer won't have respiratory difficulty, so I ask rhetorically. Does wearing a mask contribute to respiratory issues - OVER TIME? In summary, mask wearers whose breathing is within normal limits probably don't have to worry. What about those with COPD? Their issues aren't microbial. They're centered around things like V02 max, hypoxia / anoxia. What, if anything, is wearing a mask doing for them?

November 19, 2020

Alan, I believe the issue of severe COPD was addressed within the article.

October 25, 2020

I've tried the Proper Cloth masks with the elastic head bands in both the Performance and Every Day models. The former was a small size and the latter was large. I want to love them, but after about an hour I find them to be very uncomfortable. I tried extending the elastic to loosen the constriction, but where the fabric gathers on the sides, it's irritating. Also the extra wide nose-wire cuts into my face no matter how I bend it. The company had excellent customer service. The design is just not right for me. I'll save these for short duration needs.

When Giftington became the number one pick, I bought one and it's the most comfortable one I've found so far. I just wish it was less expensive. As a teacher who wears a mask 7:45 to 5:00 much of the time, I need to have several comfortable masks on hand.

October 21, 2020

I bought four Giftington masks. While they may be approved, I'm unable to wear them comfortably. The bonded fabric is stiff, the fit is odd; good from nose to chin, but not wide enough & there's a gap on the sides. The ear loops have unfinished ends that dangle & irritate my neck. I'm returning three unopened, which they graciously said they'd refund. Would that I'd ordered more Vistaprint masks when they were made with the better quality that was approved... The Vistaprint masks are so much more comfortable.

November 5, 2020

I totally agree with all your comments here on the Giftington masks and the Vistaprint.

November 12, 2020

I also bought a Giftington mask that I found to be stiff and uncomfortable. It is attractive, good at reducing fog on my eyeglasses, and seems to check all the boxes according to this review. I wish it was more pleasant to wear.

November 15, 2020

Vistaprint are our one of our go-to masks as well. The few that we bought earlier in the spring are better quality than the few that we bought later in the summer. Both the material and the nose wire hold their shape better.
Same goes for Vida. They went down in quality as well, but the masks we bought earlier in the spring work well for us. I can see how they would not work at all for people with medium to large faces, though.

November 19, 2020

I have a Giftington mask, which I do not find stiff at all, nor do I find it uncomfortable if worn correctly (two ways are suggested). It fits snugly around my face, such that the mask area actually pooches in and out with my breathing. Yet, my glasses fog like heck. Today, after returning from the grocers, I complained about my problem, and my husband suggested a remedy - foam insulation weather seal tape. It has a sticky back, which is how you adhere it to the mask. It's about 3/8'"x 3/16". There is also a smaller size. I put a strip on the nose area of my mask and wore it around for a while, and it did a pretty good, not perfect, job of reducing the fog. I have a high-bridged nose, which contributes to the problem, so for others this may be a perfect solution. One very big plus. This stuff costs about $2 for a 17 ft roll (Home Depot and Lowe's and others). WAY less expensive than the mask tape. Watch out, this stuff might soon be re-marketed and re-branded as fancy mask nose tape.

October 20, 2020

I tried the Vida masks and found them to be flimsy including the filters they sent. They were a waste of money. I recently tried Mandala masks and like them. How about a review of those?

November 15, 2020

We have several of the Vida masks, and I think for myself they are okay if I put in a filter. The filters appear to be the standard ones many of the mask makers use, they say PM 2.5. . My glasses fog up terribly in the grocery store, and at other times, I have to remove my glasses to see at all. . My husband could not wear the regular size Vida mask, I had to buy two X-Large which do fit him. The company is responsive to work with, so that is a plus. If you wear glasses, you might want to choose another mask.

September 27, 2020

Does using the ear loop straps on the Giftington affect your rating? I, and an acquaintance who purchased that mask, find it impossible to get it on using the head-and-neck straps. Perhaps you can tell us how your testers got Giftington on using those straps.
September 30, 2020

We're sorry to hear you had trouble with this. We do recommend using the straps as head straps, as there is evidence (discussed in the answer above) that head straps provide a better fit. We found the best way to do this is to use the toggle to lengthen the bottom straps as much as possible, then slide over the head, place the mask on your face, and then pull the top strap over your head. You can then pull the toggle on the bottom strap to tighten.

October 12, 2020

I agree, the Giftington mask is very difficult to get on with the head and neck straps and if you want ear loops you have to order them separately and pay additional postage as well. I would not have ordered this mask if I had known this (and or course you can't return masks).

September 23, 2020

Vistaprint has two categories of masks, one is "Fast Ship." I have purchased two with Fast Ship, the most recently at the end of August. The outer layer is 94.5% polyester/5.5% Elastane , the inner is 100% cotton, and there is a pocket for adding another filter. My masks were manufactured in 4/2020. I don't know if the masks manufactured after that date is when the material was changed, or, if Fast Ship masks are manufactured differently. I have not bought any via Regular Ship. This mask is the most comfortable one I have, including Griffington. Hope that helps.

September 19, 2020

Purchased the Vida mask because we have members in our family with small faces. Very disappointed in the very thin cotton material (not a tight weave, more like bandanna material) and the filters which are not sized for the mask (filters are smaller and a different shape than the mask). Wire nose piece is not flat, so it digs in a bit and doesn't make a proper seal.

September 7, 2020

What masks are there that don't fog up glasses? the ones I have tried all cause one to make a choice between breathing or seeing.
September 8, 2020

One of the best ways to prevent glasses from fogging is to ensure a snug fit on the face. Masks with nose wires can help with this, and we've noted in our reviews which masks have nose wires. The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides additional tips to help prevent glasses from fogging when wearing a mask, including using medical tape to help seal the gap between the top of your mask and your nose, positioning your glasses on top of the fabric of your mask, and using anti-fogging solution (see

S A20892
September 7, 2020

I am very pleased with this article and will use it as the basis for a mask purchase. A problem I have with my current mask is that my glasses fog-up, making it difficult to shop, say, in a grocery store. Did you evaluate this issue at all or gain any relevant experience?
September 9, 2020

In general, one of the best ways to prevent glasses from fogging is to ensure a snug fit along the top of the face (across the cheek and bridge of the nose). Masks with nose wires can help with this, and we note in our reviews which masks have nose wires. However, we did mention in our review of one mask that some people have reported having trouble with glasses fogging despite the mask having a nose wire.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides additional tips to help prevent glasses from fogging when wearing a mask, including using medical tape to help seal the gap between the top of your mask and your nose, positioning your glasses on top of the fabric of your mask, and using anti-fogging solution (see

September 10, 2020

A suggestion after months of dealing with fogging glasses: roll up a piece of tissue and put it inside your mask across the bridge of your nose. It can make the mask a bit hot but it has solved the issue of my glasses fogging.

October 7, 2020

Both the Giftington and the Vida were complete wastes of money. Both were terribly uncomfortable, and neither fit well enough on either me or my husband to prevent our glasses from getting fogged, moving around, etc. We're back to using the KN95 masks, and happily so. We leave them in the sunny car after use, or bake them as advised by ConsumerLab.

November 12, 2020

I want to express a WARNING, about anti-fog treatments. I thought is was a good idea, and researched which were the best on Amazon, then I went to a DIVE shop and asked and they sold me what all the divers used. Well, I had used the JAWS SPIT brand, and it worked, but I ended up having a bizarre event. I got a COVID nasal test when I was in the E.R.....boy did that hurt.....and I had a bad nasal irritation, then my eye started to water badly, which they said was eye continued to water, and burn slightly, and I was released and my eye was burning badly when I got home, and it was horribly painful, and I thought the COVID test did something. I called the ER in excruciating pain, and they said to return, and I had no way back and I felt like someone splashed acid in my eye. I did a quick Google search, and the same thing happened to me with that Anti-Fog solution as in this clinical case. I can only guess that my tearing eye from the COVID test caused a reaction to the Anti-fog coating. I'm just putting this warning out there: Goggle: " cornea burn spitz" to read the clinical-case.

I have also seen some reviews that others have had a very bad reaction, however many good reviews also. I followed the directions so I'm not sure what happened, but it affected my vision in the one eye, and I have not yet seen an eye dr. since I don't go anywhere without wearing goggles due to the COVID exposeure to the mucus membranes of exposed eyes. I got a great pair of goggles at CVS for $6, but the fogged after washing since they were sealed swim goggles and the moisture/humidity from the eyes caused them to fog vs. from nasal/breath humidity like is commented in this write-up....
November 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. We've added information about reactions to anti-fog products in the answer above.

September 3, 2020

Could you please evaluate the kitsbow hepa mask. It fits as well as my N95, I am curious if it meets WHO standards

September 2, 2020

I have tried two of these masks: the Vida mask and the Vista mask. Update: The Vida now comes in 3 sizes, but their standard size is the best for me. The Vista is smaller and not as "tall". My main question: Vida suggests you can take out the filter and reuse it in a freshly laundered mask for 7 days. Wouldn't you risk contaminating it in the removal? And, since it's supposedly catching particles, wouldn't some contamination get through to the outside of it? Then you'd probably want to remember which side you had facing out, no? I plan to ask them this question. The filter is dense and does feel like better protection than a regular cloth mask or even a thinner filter. I wouldn't go jogging in it, however!

September 9, 2020

You can buy a package of filters online. I change mine when I start using a new mask.

September 1, 2020

I just tried the Vida masks. They fit fine - although one still had material which went into my mouth at times. The issue I am having is that the little rubber tube which allows you to adjust the ear loops is flimsy and split in half after the first wearing. Vida did enclose two additional ones - which is great - but I fear that those will meet the same early fate. My glasses did not fog as much as with the Vistaprint ones. You also have to insert the filter from one side only - which is a pain. I am still on the hunt for a good mask (which meets WHO guidelines) with adjustable ear loops which will not fog my glasses. I have no financial interest in any mask product.

December 2, 2020

I have several VIDA masks and all the newer ones have the insert filter on one side only. I find this requires manual dexterity and is time consuming. I bought some Beau Ties of Vermont masks, and I love the design and the fit. My glasses fog up less than with the Vida. They have three layers of cotton, and the filter is inserted in a pocket and is easy to do. I like their varied patterns of masks, including flannel ones for winter. They have three sizes. I have no financial or other interests in either company.

August 31, 2020

Consumerlab, been a subscriber for many years and reference your reviews often. Thank you for your dedication us consumers!! Do you have any information on or experience with Outdoor Research masks and filters? Also, would you consider reviewing a variety of the optional filters sold by companies such as Gliftington, etc? Thanks again!
August 31, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We have not reviewed Outdoor Research masks but we will keep your suggestion in mind.

November 18, 2020

Yes, please review Outdoor Research masks. I'm hearing good things about them.

August 30, 2020

Thanks for all your work on evaluating these masks. Please consider reviewing the Tommie Copper masks. I just purchased two (2) packs for us, and so far we like a lot about them. They fit well, have nice multi layered fabric, which is infused with copper and zinc. We think these could be a great find, and the price is considerably more reasonable than many of the masks in your reviews. This is starting to sound like a commercial, and I apologize if it comes across that way. I am not affiliated in any way with the manufacturer and have no other interest than to help our community seek out and evaluate the best products. TY
Be safe all,
August 31, 2020

Thank you for sharing your experience with this mask. Unfortunately, it's not clear from the website how many layers of fabric the mask is made of, or what type of fabric is used. The mask does have a nose wire and adjustable straps, which should help to get a good fit. We will reach out and see if we can get more information from the company about the fabric.

August 30, 2020

I would highly recommend you check out the Debrief Me mask. I have used it for years for allergies and it seems to comply with all the requirements, even without a filter. With the filter, it is even more protective. It is not cheap, but lasts forever and is very comfortable.It creates a tight seal too when tightened.
August 31, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. We will keep your suggestion in mind.

August 28, 2020

Hopefully this mask will also be tested: Is it all hype or is it really a breakthrough?

LG Electronics (LG) will give new meaning to clean, personal air with the introduction PuriCare™ Wearable Air Purifier at IFA 2020.
August 31, 2020

There does not appear to be any published research on the efficacy of this product.

August 27, 2020

Please review the Turtleback Reusable Face Mask (by Turtleback Case). The cost is $20 for two masks, each with 3 layers of fabric and adjustable ear loops. The adult size covers most of my small face. Delivery time was good.

August 27, 2020

I'm in California, fairly near one of the fires. They may not be extinguished until the first rains in November. We get smoke. I'm looking for something that is both a COVID mask and a smoke mask, if there is such a thing. Do you know or can you find out? People I see shopping are wearing either one or the other. I wear my smoke mask until I get inside a store, then swap it quickly for a COVID mask. Tricky.
August 31, 2020

Unfortunately there does not appear to be an ideal solution for this; some experts have suggested that if you are using an N95 mask with a valve to protect from smoke, you might tape over the valve or wear a surgical mask over the N95 to help protect others when going into a store (

August 26, 2020

I have an issue with the Vida mask that I ordered and received. The adjustable piece is broken which means I cannot secure the mask. I've tried to reach out to them on their website but the return portion of it does not appear to be working. I would hesitate to recommend this vendor in spite of the good reviews.

August 26, 2020

I ordered several of the Vida masks as well and had a problem with them. They are very small and do not fit any members of my family (and we have skinny faces!). In addition, their customer service was challenging to say the least. I'm not sure why these masks are rated so highly as they fit no one!

August 26, 2020

I will second that concern. We also purchased Vida masks, and they were tight even on my petite 11-year-old son. The ear loops are also not particularly stretchy, so if I tighten them enough to make the mask fit as it should, the mask is both too tight and my ears hurt. In addition, the filters they provide do not cover the entire area that air might flow in/out of the mask. All in all, nice concept but poor execution and fit.

August 31, 2020

Same thing happened to my mask and it was brand new. I slip knotted the ear loop to make it tighter
to fit around my ear.

September 4, 2020

I had exactly the same issue. The rubber adjuster split in half on Day One. They supplied a second one which I am going to try to put on; even if I can get it onto the mask, I fear it will also split easily.

August 25, 2020


August 23, 2020

I've made the Jesse Killion masks that are on website:
They're easy to make (I add a poly fiber liner), fit extremely well (I also changed the sides to accommodate elastic loops for fitting around the ears) and have made them for the rest of the family.

September 5, 2020

Would you know anyone who makes
JESSIE Killian masks for sale?

November 26, 2020

I love these masks.I like them much better than the Vista and the Vida. I use a stiff interfacing that keeps it away from your mouth and makes it easier to talk. I could make you one Marion20870.

August 23, 2020

There may be a substantial discount available if you order 10 or more masks.

August 23, 2020

Purchased four Vida brand masks and washed on gentle cycle and hung to dry. Looks quite wrinkled after drying compared to all my other masks, and one has loose stitching before I’ve even worn it.

August 23, 2020

Can you check out and review Vogmask (non-valve version)? They cost $33 and are constantly sold out.
August 26, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind.

August 23, 2020

What are your thoughts on the PURE-MSK Nano Air Mask?
August 26, 2020

We have not reviewed this mask but we will keep your suggestion in mind.

August 23, 2020

Do you happen to know when the Vistaprint (Trumask) changed its fabric. I ordered it after reading the review, then saw the news today that the fabric had changed. I hate to toss a mask that might be perfectly good. Is there a way I could tell which version I have?

Thanks, Chris
August 26, 2020

The change seems to have occurred around late July/early August. We are not sure if there is a way to tell by looking at the mask, but we will reach out to the company and let you know if they have any suggestions. If the mask is comfortable and fits well, it might be worth trying to add your own layer of cotton to the inside of the mask.

September 2, 2020

If you ask the company they will tell you if your order is made with the newer fabric. They know.

January 24, 2021

I ordered several vista prints masks around the time of the change. By reading the labels on the back of the bag the mask was in, I could see which masks had a cotton inner layer as recommended, and which were polyester both inner and outer layers. I am only wearing the ones with cotton inner layer, although it looks like they are no longer being made. I have no financial interest in this product or any other.

August 21, 2020

I ordered the custom Vistaprint masks before their rating on this page was revised, so I don't know what the interior fabric will be. I am wondering if you think two modifications might be appropriate (assuming it is no longer cotton inside). Either line the mask with an additional layer of cotton OR make replacement filters out of the Filti Face Mask Material that you recommend above. What would you suggest?
August 26, 2020

Adding a layer of cotton to the inside of the mask might be good to try; the WHO guidelines recommend cotton for the inner layer to help absorb moisture. If you don't want to purchase the filters that Vistaprint sells, the Filti inserts are another option. They can be cut to fit, but be sure to compare the dimensions with the size of the filter pocket in the Vistaprint masks.

August 20, 2020

The Proper Cloth masks fit well and are comfortable, though talking a lot as a census enumerator does tend to pull it down and require adjustment. Small seemed to be the right size based on measurements but maybe a bit more room would be better if you talk a lot! 3 for $50 with free shipping. Arrived via USPS a couple days before their predicted arrival.

August 19, 2020

With ear loop masks, if a wearer adds an ear saver that pulls the loops to the back of the head and snugs it to the face, is the efficiency of the mask improved? Thank you.
August 26, 2020

It would seem that using ear savers that pull the loops to the back of the head would increase the tension and provide a tighter fit, which would likely help, but we have not seen any published tests comparing the use of loops and ear savers with ties.

August 1, 2021

There are terrific velcro strips that are sold on Amazon, which one can loop through on one ear loop and leave that way, and each time you don your mask, you can then loop through the other ear loop and fasten it as loosely or tightly as you like. They're cheap and colorful, and they make me feel much more protected.

August 19, 2020

Have you seen the type of mask made of soft silicone with a replaceable filter that is given for KN95 filtration, such as:

I got one and found the soft silicone gives the best seal while not making any mark on the skin. But how can we verify that the KN95 filter is from a reputable trusted supplier?

Thank you in advance
August 27, 2020

Thank you for sharing your experience with this mask. Without more information we cannot comment on the efficacy of the filter, but we would recommend asking the company selling the mask for more details about the filter, such as the name of manufacturer, and any testing data they may have. As noted in the "N-95 vs. KN-95 respirators" the CDC has published its own tests of KN-95 respirators which found many had much lower filtration efficacy than N-95 respirators. However, it's not clear if the KN-95 filters sold with the masks you mention have undergone testing.

August 19, 2020

If you buy masks with ear loops, you really have to look for the ones with *adjustable* ear loops that allow you to tighten the tension. As for surgical masks, tie a knot in each ear loop: that tightens it up. There's a method I saw online where a nurse (I believe) showed a method where you can also fold the surgical mask in half length-wise, then tie a knot in each ear loop *as close to the mask itself as possible,*, then unfold the mask, pop the corners inward, and the mask is now more ... "round" on your face, shaped more like an N95, and definitely a tighter fit.

August 19, 2020

I did that and it did fit much tighter, but the ear loops really hurt my ears, so I untied them and went back to the way it was and use it for quick trips into a store. Have a better one for wearing for longer periods of time.

August 22, 2020

I saw the same video. She's a young doctor, and her method works very well. I've used her technique and it created a much better fit and seal on my Mother's face. No more gaposis.

August 23, 2020

I tried tying the ear loops as close to the mask as possible, but doing so did not work for me: there was still too much distance to hold the mask close to keep the space inside. I seem to have a small face that not only leaves too much up-down distance at the cheeks, but also under the chin! I am still looking for a mask that fits better that does not cost more than I feel comfortable paying.

August 24, 2020

I think this is the video you are referring to

August 19, 2020

For the replaceable filter I purchased some MERV 13 filter material which can be cut to fit:

August 19, 2020

I have purchased the Giftington masks, and actually bought another round for my husband and I to have a backup. They fit very well, and one can put an additional filter in a slot between the layers if you wish. They are extremely well made and look very tailored and professional when wearing.

August 16, 2020

Have you checked out the UnderArmour Sports Mask? Just got it and, at around $30, a bit pricey. BUT it works GREAT!
August 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. This mask appears to have three layers (including the insert); however, the inner layer of this mask is not made of a cotton or cotton blend and so it does not meet WHO guidelines.

August 16, 2020

Consumer Lab...Thank you for your great work. I have a mask where both the inner and outer layer is made of bamboo viscose. Is this just as good as cotton? (It is very soft and cool on my face, but I am wondering...Does the bamboo viscose fabric offer as much protection as cotton?
August 28, 2020

We aren't aware of any studies that have tested the filtration efficacy of bamboo viscose fabric. Bamboo viscose can be lighter and more breathable than cotton, and is more water-absorbent, so it could possibly work for the inner layer of a mask – although WHO specifically recommends cotton or cotton blends for this layer. Bamboo would not be a good choice for the outer layer of a mask, which WHO advises should be hydrophobic (something that repels water rather than absorbs it).

August 16, 2020

Some Proper Cloth masks, as their site states, are made of linen or blend of linen and cotton and NOT just cotton.
August 17, 2020

We've noted this in the answer above.

August 27, 2020

The Proper Cloth Performance Mask has a sewn in filter. I discovered this only when I received the mask. The instructions for cleaning said to remove the filter to wash. I contacted the company and was told that they were going to make this clearer on the website. I ordered the small. It's quite snug to the point of being a bit uncomfortable on a hot day.

"Version 1.5 (v1.5) This version is sewn from performance knit fabrics and features an over-the-head elastic band design. We sewed the filters into these masks to ensure they remain secure during vigorous activity. This version has the same dimensions as v1.1."

August 16, 2020

I'm looking for breathable, moisture-wicking masks suitable for outdoor walking, running, and exercise. Can you add sports-related masks to your tests?

Cotton in T-shirts tends to hold onto moisture, leading to discomfort. I would imagine that cotton against the face is similar. Polyester, elastane, and nylon are some synthetics that help evaporate sweat. Can that be done safely with breath moisture and sweat?

I have no financial interest in masks or athletic gear.
August 17, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion. We will keep it in mind.

August 16, 2020

I wonder if you could take a look at the Giftington mask. It seems to meet the criteria with 3 layers plus a filter pocket. I have no interest in the company, but I read about the masks early on and bought two. The fit is excellent.

September 7, 2020

I have tried to reach them by telephone but cannot find a telephone number.


August 16, 2020

Please add to your testing criteria, how muffled my speaking voice would be with each.
August 17, 2020

Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind.

August 16, 2020

Bought a few of the Vistaprint masks. My friend likes them a lot. I wear glasses and have a hard time placing them on my face (even with the bendable nose piece) to avoid fogging. I also find it a bit difficult to place the filter correctly. I had an issue with one mask and the company promptly replaced it. Not pleased to find that they no longer meet WHO specifications. I may experiment with some of your other suggestions. I have no financial interest in any masks - just trying to find a good protective one which will not fog my glasses.

August 16, 2020

Based on one of your previous reviews, I purchased the top-rated one from Proper Cloth. I found it very difficult to fit (Customer Service was very polite and suggested that I shorten the strings - ha! - I have a normally-sized head) and after it was carefully hand-washed the inner layer bunched up in the middle and was impossible to un-bunch. Customer Service (bless their hearts!) refunded my money without making me send it back.

August 16, 2020

Just received our Vida masks. They are not actually adjustable. the little rubber knobs that are supposed to be used to adjust them are cheap and useless. They fall off, cannot be put back on. They don't hold in place at all.
The mask is small and not particularly comfortable. We are not at all happy with them.

August 16, 2020

I ordered a large batch of Vida masks and filters. They are awful! I'm not sure why they are getting good ratings on various sites. Perhaps they meet WHO guidelines for fabric and filtration but they are unwearable. It says on their website that they fit adults and children. They may be appropriate for small children but certainly not for adults. I am a small adult with a small face. It does not fit me. It did not fit my skinny-faced husband or young adult son. The filters are hard to insert and place properly within the mask and are small, barely covering your nose and mouth. In addition, the customer service is incredibly poor. I own several other masks and these are by far the worst I have purchased. Really disappointed.

August 14, 2020

Although the description of the Vistaprint mask says the inner layer is cotton, I have learned from the company that the composition of the mask has been changed, and now both the outer and inner layers are polyester.
August 17, 2020

We've updated our review of this mask in the answer above.

August 12, 2020

With how strained supply chains are, I'm concerned about whether commercially produced masks are being made out of material that it safe to breathe through all day. How can I ensure that the masks I buy don't have materials that expose me to pesticides, VOCs, heavy metals, or hazardous dyes?
August 26, 2020

We advise asking for details about fabrics used in masks, before or when placing an order. However, it can be difficult to get this kind of information about the fabric used in masks, and, as we note in the answer above, it's not uncommon for companies to change the fabrics or fabric suppliers they use in order to keep up with high demand.

August 12, 2020

I was somewhat surprised to find that the Vistaprint RFS masks I ordered on 7/29 were shipped from China on on 8/5 and scheduled to arrive tomorrow 8/13 on UPS. I just thought your readers should be aware when making their choice.
August 12, 2020

We've added information about where each mask is made in the answer above.

August 10, 2020

Not all quilting cotton is the same quality. You have to physically feel the material and hold it up to a light to see how tightly woven it is. I have ordered quilting cotton from specialty online quilt stores that sell high end fabric and the fabric was see through. Also, you cannot know the thread count of a fabric unless you look on the bolt for the manufactures specifications. Even then the thread count might not be listed.

August 16, 2020

I did the same thing. Really poor quality.

August 18, 2020

There is a way to count/check the TPI (Thread per inch) of a fabric. yourself. Simply draw a one inch square with a pencil, take a picture of the square with phone while zooming as much as you can with keeping a good image, and then zoom again when viewing the picture. You can then actually see the threads, and count them, in both directions, and add the two numbers. For high filtration high thread cotton (600 TPI), that's a lot of counting, so I prefer to do the same method with a smaller 1 centimeter square. 1 square inch is equal to 6.45 square cm, so just multiply the result on the square cm by 6.45 to get the TPI.

August 10, 2020

I've been making masks for myself family and friends because I have a lot of fabric samples of silk, cotton, linen and blends, including some viscose, which I do not know exactly how good it is material for mask making however. If someone knows about this type of fabric - what its qualities are let me know! Most of my masks are quite thick and a little hard to breathe through depending on what I make them out of but I can tailor them to fit me or my family. I'm mostly now using 2 silk layers with a cotton lining that can be tucked in under flaps and is the same shape as the outer 2 layers. I've tried many patterns. I wanted to see what commercial masks are like compared to mine so I ordered the top four and one copper one. I was surprised at how thin the materials are and generally flimsy the nose wires are. Also the filters were generally hard to place into the masks and did not conform to the shape or size of the mask. I also have a small face/chin. Only the Vistaprint really fit me and it has a good method to hold the filter, which was the best shape compared to the others. Even so, after a long walk the cotton lining was sort of sticking to my mouth. The Vida mask I put a dart in it to fit my chin, but it would most likely fit a face that is a little bigger than mine. Because the flap to insert the filter is only open on one side, it's a little to difficult to insert the filter which at least has some stiffness to it but then it does not conform to the mask shape. The Atelier mask (cotton/satin) I gave to my daughter who also has a small face. It fit but there were gaps on the sides which I remedied by putting large bobby pins down the side tubes where the elastics fit in the mask. A piece of wire or cut zip tie would work too. The small filters are absolutely flimsy and rectangle and have to be put in from the bottom of the mask. The fabric is nice though. I ended up sewing a silk fabric piece in the shape of the mask and I even put a zippy plastic strip down the middle and sides to create a form to the home make filter. I ordered the Propercloth on 7/27 but it has not come yet. In addition, I ordered a mask from Copper Compression which fits my husband but not me and seems nice. No filter inserts. I'm not connected to any of these companies and these are just my opinions based on how the masks fit me (small face) and how they compare to the masks I am sewing (not selling any).

August 12, 2020

That's a great review. Thank you. I've been experimenting with materials and construction as well. I add a thick layer of spunbond material in the middle with cotton quilting material on the outside and teeshirt material inside which is nice and soft. I put a loop of stretchy tie around the back of the neck and then pull the ties up through casings over the head which allows great adjustment as far as fit goes. Also, easy to get on and off for a tie-on mask. I haven't been able to get ear loops anywhere near as tight fitting.

August 13, 2020

I just received the Propercloth mask. This one the ties are 2 loops behind the head. Rather tight with no adjustment except for positioning the loops. The mask itself seemed nice. I think I saw that they are also making ear loop ones. It really matters what type of ears you have whether ear loops will work. Soft floppy ears don't hold loops too well! If you are making your own ties - I have a sheet made from stretchy tee shirt type material I've used for ties and if you have an old t-shirt you can cut it into strips as they make some nice soft ties that have some give to them. As above, no interest in any of these firms.

August 9, 2020

I'm curious about the advice to wash cloth masks in a washing machine. So many don't have agitators, so why would a washing machine be more effective than hand washing in hot soapy water where the mask(s) can be scrubbed by hand?
August 10, 2020

Machine washing, if safe for the fabric, may just be more convenient. It may also allow for a hotter water temperature to be used than could be tolerated by some when washing by hand.

August 9, 2020

Thank you for all your incredibly helpful information. I purchased two Vista Trumasks and filters based upon your recommendation. One suggestion: in your review you did not mention that their filters should not be washed, although you did say that before wearing for the first time to remove the filter before washing, so you might add that to the review. Do you know the filtering specifics of these masks? Will they filter a particle as small as a coronavirus?
August 26, 2020

Thank your for your suggestion. We've added a note about the filter to the review. Vistaprint does has not provided any information about the filtration efficacy of their masks. There has been some preliminary research on the filtration efficacy of cloth masks and various fabrics in general (see "How cotton and household fabrics compare in blocking coronavirus" in the answer above).

Geraldina E20537
August 9, 2020

Hi, I am a Consumerlab member.
I read your review "Make or buy an effective mask" and I order the Vistaprint RFS Mask through the website you provided for that company. I received the envelope 2 days ago but when I opened it, I notice the mask packages does not show "Vistaprint" name anywhere. The name on the package is "trumask". Please explain. Thanks
August 10, 2020

Trumask is the manufacturer that fulfills orders for Vistaprint.

August 11, 2020

I was confused, too, when my package of masks arrived. Nothing on receipt or packaging indicated "Vistaprint" or even "RFS" (its trademarked product). That said, they arrived sooner than expected by mail and are of good quality!

August 9, 2020

I have been told that MERV 16 material is effective?? It comes on a roll and is 1/16" thick. What is your experience in this material?
August 31, 2020

A Merv 16 rating means that a material has an average filtration efficiency of 75% or greater for particles 0.3 - 1.0 microns ( For comparison, an N95 mask has a filtration efficiency of 95% for particles 0.3 microns in size, as noted in the answer above. However, be aware that some Merv materials can contain fiberglass or other materials that can be harmful inhaled.

August 9, 2020

Could you please provide data on an approved mask that is made in the USA or Canada?
August 10, 2020

In our list above, we've noted which masks claim to be made in the U.S.

August 9, 2020

When ordering Vida masks, pay attention to the information about their size. Vida, rather confusingly, has two different provider locations. One, apparently not in the United States, sent me a mask far too small to fit me. It was more like a small child's mask that would not stretch to fit over my ears. If you are an adult, be sure to order from the USA Vida location (in California) if you want the mask to fit. They should make this clearer in their ads. The product itself seems to be very well made, of multiple layer cotton, and the filters are nicely finished and smooth.

August 8, 2020

I'd like to see another review of an acceptable fabric machine-washable mask that doesn't require use of a filter. The one reviewed above that has these features looks huge in the chin area--I'm a small framed person with a normal chin and don't want a bunch of fabric hanging down over my chin.
August 9, 2020

We will keep your suggestion in mind.

August 8, 2020

I received a VistaPrint (aka Tru-Mask) yesterday and tried it out. I really wanted it to work because it looks good but it leaked around my nose and fogged my glasses. BTW, it did not come with a filter--you'll need to buy those separately. I tried several of these mask and for me, the Proper Cloth mask has fit my nose the best and caused the least fogging and it was comfortable enough for all day wear. The prior post about having to shop around to find the one that fits YOUR face is spot on. Disclaimer: I have no financial interests in any mask company.

August 5, 2020

The Vistaprint ones ship from China so that is why they take so long but they quickly send your design examples and process those quickly and ship soon after

July 29, 2020

You don't mention if the latest masks are as protective as an N95 mask?
July 31, 2020

If you are referring to the mask brands we reviewed above, we are not aware of tests that have compared them to N95 masks, so they should not be considered equivalent. Most of the masks we selected are constructed of at least three layers of fabrics such as higher thread count cotton, cotton polyester blends, chiffon, with an inner layer (or filter) of nonwoven material such as polypropylene, or cotton, as recommended by WHO. Some of these combinations of fabric, such as three layers of cotton, or two layers of chiffon with one layer of cotton, have been shown in preliminary studies (such as the Konda study discussed in the answer) to be nearly as effective in filtering particles as N95 mask material at low air flow rates. However, as noted in that study, the fabric combinations were not tested at normal air flow rates or as a fully constructed, fitted face mask -- so there could also be air leakage around these masks that might not occur with an N-95 mask.

August 2, 2020

Please realize that filtration depends upon two things: the components making up the mask, and how tightly it fits. A poorly fitting mask loses 50% of filtration capability. So please consider both when choosing a mask.

July 26, 2020

It appears that most OTC cloth masks protect others from me. Will any of these masks protect me from maskless individuals?
July 30, 2020

Please see the "Why you should wear a mask" section in the answer above.

July 26, 2020

I am wondering if you evaluated the Oura Mask, which is impregnated with silver oxide and titanium dioxide. It also has a pocket for an N95 filter. If sized properly, has a very secure fit and does restrict air flow,
August 12, 2020

We have not reviewed this mask but will keep your suggestion in mind.

August 23, 2020

I also purchased 2 of these and would be interested in a review.
I've been a member and highly recommend you to anyone that will listen, including all of my and my husband's Doctors as well of my fellow nurses and med friends. Thank you for all that you do.

July 26, 2020

I have purchased multiple masks from multiple companies, but the Vistaprint masks are far and away my favorites. I have no financial interest in Vistaprint, these masks simply fit me the best and I like the filter option. It's a bit tricky to get the filter worked into place but aside from that, the masks are perfect, at least for my face.

July 26, 2020

What about copper masks are they better
July 28, 2020

Please see the section "Are copper masks better?" in the answer above.

July 12, 2020

Since chiffon (90% Polyester, 10% Spandex) comes with the following care instructions : "Hand wash cold, no bleach, line dry, cool iron reverse side", what would be the recommended method to sanitize a mask made of cotton and chiffon as suggested?
August 13, 2020

We've added information about this in the "How to Clean a Cloth Mask" above. We also reached out to the maker of the Atelier Vertex mask we reviewed (since it is made with a chiffon blend) and added the company's advice to the "Cleaning" information for that mask.

July 9, 2020

Question for Consumer Lab: I have a been placing my KN95 mask on the dashboard in my car for disinfecting, and was wondering....Can the effectiveness of the mask possibly be compromised if I leave it on the dash board in the hot sun for too long of a time, say...several days, or even a week before taking the mask out of the car?
August 17, 2020

We aren't aware of any research that suggests this would a problem. However, be aware that masks labeled as "KN-95" are not N-95 respirators and their filtration may not match that of N-95 masks. See "N-95 vs. KN-95 respirators" in the answer above.

July 1, 2020

Many of the patterns for masks include a layer of non-woven interfacing, but I don't see mention of that in these studies. Does non-woven interfacing provide extra protection? Thanks.
July 7, 2020

A preliminary study ( -- not peer-reviewed) that compared various fabrics found that non-woven fusible interfacing fabric has less filtration efficacy than fabrics such as denim, quilting cotton and T-shirt fabric, but it did improve filtration efficacy when combined with other fabrics.

The researchers noted: "Nonwoven fusible interfacing, the kind used for stiffening collars and other areas in garments, was able to significantly improve the ability of the fabrics to filter ultrafine particles without increasing breathing resistance. Of particular note, we found that brand was important. HTC lightweight interfacing was more effective than Heat-n-Bond lightweight interfacing. Applying two layers of the Heat-n-Bond achieved similar improvements to filtration efficiency as the HTC brand. Wonder Under, a double sided, heavyweight fusible interfacing for constructing bags and craft projects. showed similar filtration ability to the HTC brand but may be too stiff to be suitable for face mask construction."

July 10, 2020

I've read a recent study stating that a filter made of polypropylene is very efficient as it holds an electrostatic charge. Given that research, I purchased a yard of polypropylene at a local fabric store and am using a double layer in my masks, all of which have a filter pocket. No problem breathing through it.

July 26, 2020

Did the same after reading similar research. I have four 100% organic cotton double layer masks with a wired nose and a filter pocket. They fit very well. Bought two yards of polypropylene which I've cut into double layer filters to fit the masks. The caveat about polypropylene is that after washing, it needs to be ironed to reinstate the electrostatic charge.

August 9, 2020

Do you have a reference on the need for ironing after washing polypropylene? I have not seen that mentioned previously.

November 15, 2020

The key material in N95 masks is polypropylene. During an interview with Ray Blanco of Technology Profits Confidential, Dr. Tsai (inventor of N95 mask material) shared:

"The material is made by a process called melt blowing. Melt blowing is to make microfibers directly from the polymer resin. In this case, this polymer resin, it’s PP. Polypropylene. We melt the polypropylene in [another substance]. Then, we use extrusion force to force the melt through an orifice, a small hole. Then each hole makes a fiber. For example, in the industrial scale, usually, the width is 1.7 millimeters wide. It has about 1,500 holes there; 1,500 fibers are made simultaneously. Then, we use that hot air moving at high speed to attenuate to the fiber. Attenuate means to pull in the drape, the fibers to make the fiber thinner, and thinner. This is a way to make microfibers. Then the microfibers bend on a corrector. It makes the wave. That’s a microfiber fabric. The process is called melt blowing because we melt the polymer and then we blow the fibers. It’s called melt blowing.

After that, we do electrostatical charge in all the fabric.

Dr. Tsai continued and described that electrostatically-charged polypropylene has two key characteristics.

"One is because it’s a microfiber. A microfiber has higher surface area, even the same weight. Then, electrostatic charges the inside of the fiber. It improves the efficiency by 10 times. In this way, it can meet the efficiency we need, and it does not adversely increase the residual drop. That means that reusability is still there. For a respirator, you need to need to have the efficiency, but you need to have comfort when you wear the respirator. It needs these two characteristics."

July 1, 2020

I'm curious to know how far a cough travels if you cough into your elbow. As well, if the droplets settle to the ground or become as airborne as if you coughed through a mask.
July 6, 2020

One study in healthy adults found that coughing into the elbow was not very effective in blocking droplets from coughing, particularly small droplets (less than 1 micron) (Zayas, BMC Public Health 2013 -- However, coughing into the elbow may be preferable to coughing into the hands, which may come in contact with and/or contaminate surfaces that are touched, if hands are not immediately washed after coughing. See the CDC's general guidelines for preventing the spread of germs when coughing or sneezing

August 23, 2020

Coughing in the elbow is all well and good as long as we give up doing the elbow bump for obvious reasons!

June 25, 2020

For a filter, I've been cutting up the vacuum cleaner bag from 3-M Filtrete "Ultra Allergen" which (according to the package) captures 99% of particles larger than 1 micron in size and captures 57% of particles between 0.3-1 micron in size.
I've been putting these into a pocket in my handmade masks made from 100% cotton. The masks are the sculpted kind, with a seam in the middle, wire above the nose, covering below the chin and high on the cheek. They are not the rectangular kind.with horizontal folds.
What do you think of using this type of material for a filter?
July 14, 2020

By estimating potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in droplets released from coughing and sneezing and comparing that with the filtration efficacy of various household materials, one set of researchers suggested that vacuum cleaner bags could, theoretically, provide a greater reduction in the risk of infection than materials such as tea towels or cotton T-shirts ( However, there are concerns with using vacuum cleaner bags as masks or as filters in masks. For example, a 2013 study in participants who wore various homemade masks and then tested while coughing, the filtration efficacy of vacuum cleaner bags was found to be almost as good as a surgical mask. However, the researchers noted that the bag's thickness and stiffness created too much resistance to air flow, making it difficult to breath and "rendering it unsuitable for a face mask." In addition, one large manufacturer of vacuum cleaner bags and filters, Shop-Vac, has issued a warning to consumers that its products should not be used for making masks, stating, in part: "First, the filter materials used in the vacuum cleaners are for no purpose other than to protect the end users of Shop Vac products from particles or debris being expelled back into the ambient air during operation. They are in no way designed or intended to protect humans from bacteria, viruses or other pathogens. Second, direct contact or coverage of the human mouth or nose with the filter materials are strictly forbidden for any purpose. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to make a mask or mask material from any filters manufactured, sold or distributed in the market for or by Shop-Vac Corporation. These materials were not designed, intended or designated for this type of use." (

June 21, 2020

Does wearing a clear face shield in addition to a mask improve protection of the wearer? Does wearing only the face shield provide any significant protection to the wearer or to those the wearer comes in contact with?
June 22, 2020

A study discussed in our CL Answer about face shields ( showed that wearing a face shield protected the person who wore the shield, by significantly decreasing the inhalation of large aerosol particles of influenza virus from simulated coughing. (It can also help protect the eyes from these larger particles, which a mask doesn't do.) However, the researchers also noted that "smaller particles can remain airborne longer and flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled." For these reasons, wearing the combination of a mask and shield is best.

June 30, 2020

What does

"flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled' mean?

It sounds like it could mean the face shield enhances air flow and infiltration, so that one is more likely to breathe in the small particles if they are present.
July 7, 2020

It does not mean that wearing a face shield increases the amount of small particles that are inhaled, just that smaller aerosol particles that linger in the air may be more likely to get past the edges of the shield than larger particles. This is why wearing a mask with face shields is best.

June 21, 2020

How can I clean my N95 mask which I have been using a few times a week when I go out. It is starting to look grubby from makeup etc.
Thank you
June 24, 2020

Use of makeup under an N95 mask is generally not recommended, and could potentially affect mask material when cleaning. For example, The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons advises that residue from makeup "may adversely affect the integrity of the material after re-processing. It is recommended that foundation, sunscreen, or other forms of make-up not be worn underneath." (See

August 17, 2020

One of my coworkers has discovered that putting a piece of paper towel on the inside of her mask keeps her makeup off the mask and she can replace or toss it as needed. It doesn't seem to affect breathe-ability and protects the integrity of the mask.

June 17, 2020

Has ConsumerLab considered testing commercial masks aimed at consumer markets to verify their efficacy claims? Thinking halolife, cambridgemask... Companies that are trying to be serious contenders for consumer safety -- though even in that sample of two, one of them has an exhalation vent which may or may not be filtered at all, where to my mind if a mask isn't filtering exhaled air at least as much as a cotton face covering then it's no good.
June 17, 2020

We are not testing masks at this time. You are correct, however, than any mask with an exhalation valve is only helping the wearer.

Walter 20167
June 12, 2020

I went to two Jo Anne fabric stores and they do not have the 10percent/90percent polyester blend of chiffon you mentioned. Only 100% polyester. Will that have the desired electrostatic qualities? What about the blend in a heavier stretch fabric?
June 13, 2020

It’s not clear from the study if 100% polyester silk would have the same electrostatic properties, although the study did test a 100% polyester silk material and find it had a lower filtration efficacy than the chiffon fabric. However, we were able to find a 90% polyester and 10% spandex chiffon blend sold on Jo-Ann Stores website (Silky Solids Stretch Chiffon Fabric -- You may also try contacting your local store and providing them with the seller part number for the chiffon fabric used in the study (#16376949).

Walter 20178
June 13, 2020

Thanks. I’ll try that.

Walter 20209
June 18, 2020

On the website I found the 10% spandex 90% polyester in many patterns and a few solids, and I could see which ones are available at the store in my town. I printed a screen capture of several patterns with the product ID. With this, the store associate was able to lead me to the aisle with all the "silky stretch chiffon," as it is called on the website. The website requires a minimum purchase of two yards, but the store will sell six-inch strips, the minimum necessary to make masks.

June 10, 2020

Has anyone tested copper masks to see if people inhale particles, either initially or after they are washed?

The use of a wide range of products not designed to be worn over the nose and mouth is a huge concern in the mask maker community. While products might have excellent filtration and breathability, their long term safety is unknown because it has never been tested. I would think the same is true for copper in masks.

While I don't agree with the whole critique of the CuMask+ being distributed in Hong Kong, the concern about copper inhalation seems valid
June 13, 2020

We've added information about this in the answer above.

June 7, 2020

Thank you for your work! ConsumerLab is one of the few sources of information that I generally trust.

Regarding masks and reliable fit after long use, I would like to see a review of the Soft Seal mask ( I have purchased several of their N95 respirators. As an engineer with a fair bit of experience designing seals - this mask I think will have a much more reliable and robust seal to the face.
June 15, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We have not reviewed this particular product, but as noted in the answer above, a good fit (snug and without gaps) is important for mask efficacy.

According to the link to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) letter provided on the company's website it is "... is approved for protections against particulates at a N95 filter efficacy."

July 26, 2020

This mask as a valve. I expect the valve is necessary because the tightly-adhering silicone seal moves with the face and without the valve the air could not be expelled when exhaling. However, the valve prevents the mask from performing its primary function--protecting others if you're infected. Any thoughts? Thanks.

June 3, 2020

It is unfortunate that in the USA, the most powerful and most prosperous country in the world would give you no option other to self-purchase this mask. If the government cared about its citizens, they should follow the Hong Kong Government and distribute the CuMASK to every citizen who holds a social security card.

June 21, 2020

I agree 100 %.

August 1, 2020

Good point.

June 3, 2020

I've been hacking masks together for a few weeks now, trying different fabrics, different nose pieces, patterns and ties. I finally achieved what I believe to be the best options--an outer layer of quilting cotton, a middle filter layer of spunbond non woven material, lining of an old tee-shirt which is soft and absorbent. The nose piece took a lot of experimentation but I finally discovered that the plastic strips that are used to close bags of coffee turns out to be perfect. After I ran out of strips from my own coffee bags I looked on Amazon and they had 100 strips for $11. The ties I liked best were from a very stretch black fabric that when cut in strips rolls up into a tube. The best way to tied the mask on tightly was using a pattern that made a casing on each side to allow a long strip of tie to loop around the bottom and then pull tight behind the head. The loop is placed over the neck, hold the mask to the face to fit the nose piece, then pull tightly and tie at the back of the head. The seal is very tight. It is slightly difficult to breathe through which means the fit is good but no where near as bad as an n95.

June 7, 2020

I have been making masks as well. I use the pattern found on (or org?) out of the state of Washington. I have found that two pieces of pipe cleaner (3 1/2" long) twisted together (I use pliers fro make the ends tight) work great! I zigzag this piece about 1 1/4" below the edge on the front piece of the mask. It can be pinched to fit nice and snugly!

June 24, 2020

Found the link to the site:

June 1, 2020

I am wondering if there is any information on using some of the high tech fabrics with antimicrobials for making face masks. Thinking coolmax.

June 1, 2020

Regarding the Filti face mask material: Is there any reason to be concerned that this "nanofiber" engineered material might shed particles that can irritate the lung or cause some pneumoconiosis?
June 16, 2020

ConsumerLab was told by a Filti company representative: "Our material does not contain fiberglass or any material that is harmful to inhale and the nanofiber is one continuous strand so there is no need to worry about inhaling individual fibers."

August 2, 2020

I have checked the Filti Safety Data Sheet and I’ve seen their comment on fiberglass. However, they have never responded to my question about whether volatile organic compounds are casting/offgassing from the material. Given the fact that they have responded to every other question posed to them, that is a great concern to me. I know that the individual components might be safe - might be – but I would really like a statement from them about the VOCs. It is not forthcoming.
August 10, 2020

We've contacted Filti and were told by a company representative that Filti Face Mask material does not contain formaldehyde. They also stated that the finished material has not yet been tested for off-gassing of other organic volatile compounds (VOCs); however, the raw material used to make Filti Face Mask material has passed leach testing for VOCs (testing to see if these compounds are emitted from the material) and that the company's engineers believe the same should be true for the finished material.

August 18, 2020

Thank you, that is very reassuring information.

May 31, 2020

If I use those blue disposable masks to go to the grocery store and other shopping errands, can you use them again if you take them off and leave them in room temperature for 7 - 10 days? I understand that they can't be cleaned or disinfected but I have several and can number them, as mentioned in another post, which would let them sit unused for several days. I am not a caregiver and it's just my husband and me and would like to save money but stay safe.
June 3, 2020

Yes, 7- 10 days at room temperature should be adequate.

July 2, 2020

I just hang mine on the (clothes) hook in my vehicles. Go to the store every 5 to 10 days, rotating mask at these times. In FL inside the vehicle gets 100+ degrees. Doing since March, no problems. Discard mask every month or so i.e. use a "new" mask every 4 to 6 weeks.
July 3, 2020

That seems like a very good approach.

July 26, 2020

This is what I do as well, although I generally use a new disposable blue mask each week and then leave them until the following week. Sometimes I only make one trip a week or ten days but others I have 2 or 3 a week and use the masks that have been baking inside the car for a number of weeks at that time. It made sense that time and the internal heat of the car in a Georgia summer would create temperatures high enough and time long enough for the virus to 'die' off.

August 1, 2020

Thank you for asking this question!

I also am in the habit of putting a mask I've worn to grocery store or elsewhere aside for about a week. Given that we're told the virus can't survive on any surface for more than that, I feel keeping a small collection of masks and carefully rotating them after each use might be safer than repeatedly washing and contributing to the deterioration of a cloth mask over time.

I'm not going out much so this is pretty doable.

August 1, 2020

I often leave my used masks in my car, which really heats up in the sun, even here in CT.

May 31, 2020

A friend made a mask for me that has two layers of surgical wrappings in-between two pieces of cloth. How effective is this?
June 3, 2020

We aren't aware of any tests or studies on masks made from surgical wrap, but the University of Florida Health's department of anesthesiology has made masks from this material. In a news release about this ( they state that the particular surgical wrapping they used "is thought to be superior to the common surgical mask in its ability to block aerosols and droplets, including water, bacteria and other particles... Although it has undergone rigorous testing and has been assigned a filtering, or N, rating by the manufacturer, it has not been tested for use as a breathed air filter by any regulatory body."

June 10, 2020

There is a Facebook group with 70,000+ members doing open source innovation on PPE. Several people are testing a wide range of materials for filtration and breathability. There are spreadsheets posted on Google Docs and a great deal of discussion.

I don't know which surgical wraps you're referring to? Halyard? Be aware that it comes in different "strengths" from 100 to 600, with different filtration and breathability characteristics.

And a concern for ALL of these materials is that none were designed to be worn over the nose and mouth, so their long term safety is unknown.

Finally, a poorly fitting mask will have its effectiveness reduced by 50%. Bear that in mind.

May 29, 2020

Regarding the masks that by virtue of cotton/chiffon/silk layers have an electrostatic charge, I have two questions: Is it true that by wearing a well-fitting homemade mask I can protect myself from co-vid droplets, particles and aerosols? If so, how would an electrostatic mask affect my protection from the droplets, particles and aerosols?
June 3, 2020

We've added information about this in the answer above (see the paragraph about the study Konda, ACS Nano 2020).

May 28, 2020

I purchased a face shield like the first one you reviewed from Amazon prime on 5-3-20 2 days before you did on 5-5-20. Even though it was prime delivery date is still in the future a month.

May 27, 2020

Thank you for all your work! Have you heard anything about Filti face mask material? The website states it is " highly-efficient (up to 95%) on sub-micron particles, including bacteria and viruses."
May 28, 2020

We haven't reviewed this product, but according to the information available on the product website, the material has a filtration efficacy of "up to 95% at 0.3 micron." If this is accurate, this would be somewhat less efficient for blocking larger sized particles (0.3 microns = 300 nm) than a properly fitted N95 mask, and some of the other fabric masks described in the study in the answer above (Konda, ACS Nano 2020). However, there is no mention of how well the material filters smaller-sized particles or aerosols (< 0.3 micron). Also, be aware that the material data sheet for this product states "Results are the outcome of a single test on a TSI 8130 - they are not guaranteed to be representative of all Filti Mask Material," so if you are interested in this product it might be best to confirm that you are getting the same material as used in their test.

Regarding the safety of Filti material, ConsumerLab was told by a Filti company representative: "Our material does not contain fiberglass or any material that is harmful to inhale and the nanofiber is one continuous strand so there is no need to worry about inhaling individual fibers."

NANCY B20033
May 25, 2020

I had a large number of all cotton, 3 ply, Curity rectangular diapers that I had saved from caring for g'children over 20 yrs ago, that, cut into thirds, lengthwise, made perfect masks, when I attached rubber bands to the ends, to hang around the ears. They wash beautifully in the machine, & are very comfortable to wear. Nancy
May 25, 2020

Just be sure that they are not constructed with any material that should not be inhaled.

May 24, 2020

The hybrid mask using 600 TPI cotton plus chiffon sounds really great, but the study authors say its effectiveness depends on the electrostatic charge of the chiffon. Would the moisture from the wearer's breath compromise the electrostatic capacity of the chiffon? Also, what about cleaning this mask; would washing it damage the electrostatic capacity of the chiffon?

Thanks for compiling all this information!
June 3, 2020

We reached out to the author of the study and he noted it may be best not to place fabrics with an electrostatic charge, such as silk and chiffon, closest to the nose and mouth for the reason you state. We've added a note about this in the answer above. The study did not investigate the effects of washing on the electrostatic charge of these materials, but we will add more information about this to the answer if it becomes available.

May 24, 2020

I have been making masks for family and friends using the instructions from the Fabric Patch quilting store The mask is made from quilting cotton with the filter being 100% polypropylene (Olyfun) ---two layers cotton and two layers polypropylene. My son-in-law has a huge beard so I make him a pleated mask still using 2layers cotton and 2 layers filter. Additional information on Oly-fun can be found here

Gary J.20013
May 24, 2020

Where can I find a pattern or instructions for making a mask?
May 27, 2020

The CDC provides instructions for making cloth masks:

June 10, 2020 is THE resource for science based masks and mask patterns.

May 21, 2020

How long does the coronavirus live on or in face masks, especially N95 or KN95? Because these can not be cleaned or decontaminated easily, is it possible to set one aside for a week or longer to allow the virus to die?

May 22, 2020

As mentioned in our information about using heat to kill coronavirus, the virus has been shown to last on masks for as long as 7 days - although at just 0.1% of the original level (see Leaving a mask a room temperature (or warmer) for a week or longer would seem a good way to decontaminate the mask, as you suggest.

May 22, 2020

I keep my N95 mask on the dashboard of my car. I live in South Florida and my car is parked outdoors in the sun. If you have ever been to this area you know that a car parked in the sun gets pretty darn hot and often almost unbearable to get into to.

May 24, 2020

I live in Puerto Rico. I purposely park, now, so my car heats up in the morning sun. I hang my mask from the rear view mirror. Why because ConsumerLab tells me heat inactivates the virus. The other day, with an infrared thermometer I measured the temperature of the mask to be, more than, 125 degrees F. My hat, gloves and bandana also get heated and disinfected without any extra effort. When I collect packages from Amazon,etc. I let them sit overnight and the next morning before unpacking, right in the back of my Subaru Forester. The way things are I only drive one or two days a week, not many places to go these days. The interior of my car should be quite a safe haven with no need for special disinfection. Anyone sees a flaw in this approach interested to hear about it.
May 24, 2020

That seems perfectly reasonable, Lloyd!

May 25, 2020

I thought studies said 135 deg. F. to kill Corona???? I also wonder if you can get the temps up inside a car to 135F. by setting the heat on high/recycle air, and with something on the accelerator to keep up the RPMs to get the engine hot...... Almost every's Car's engine thermostat is set at 200F for the engine coolant, so it would be interesting if a car's HVAC/HEAT will allow an interior to get that hot.....
May 26, 2020

To clarify, there isn't a magic temperature at which the coronavirus is inactivated -- it's a function of both time and heat (and other factors, such as material on which, or in which, the virus exists). As heat goes up, the less time needed for inactivation. So, even at room temperature, given adequate time, an object with coronavirus will become decontaminated.

May 27, 2020

Silly and potentially dangerous (think carbon monoxide poisoning). Please don't try this especially in an enclosed garage.

August 19, 2020

What are your thoughts on nanofibers masks? Have you looked at the Pure-MSK Nano Air Mask?

May 20, 2020

Interesting sites

May 20, 2020

Great information! I’d like to make face masks, but I can’t seem to find these exact dish cloths. I’ve seen microfiber dish cloths made of 80% polyester and 20% polyamid. Would they be as good for masks as the ones made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon?
May 20, 2020

Polyamide is the more generic term for nylon, so this sounds very close to, but not exactly the same, as the dish cloth fabric blend described in the study.

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf).

If we can get more information about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

July 26, 2020

I found an Ecloth with the right material make up, as in the study, I have no financial interest in this product.

May 20, 2020

I have a friend in the UK who is inserting a HEPA filter made for her vacuum cleaner between the layers of the masks she makes? Good idea or?
May 21, 2020

There is some very preliminary research from Missouri University suggesting that coffee filters, Hepa or furnace filters, and even vacuum cleaner bags, may make homemade cloth masks more effective, but researchers caution that cutting some materials, such as furnace filters, may create small fibers of material that should not be inhaled because they can irritate and damage the lungs. To avoid this, they recommend placing these types of materials in between layers of fabric. For more about this see the researchers video on YouTube

June 12, 2020

Please, please, please consider breathability when discussing filtering materials. While not published in journals, a lot of of work has gone on in the Open Source PPE Facebook group, where this is a topic of discussion. If you can’t breathe through a mask, you won’t wear it,

May 20, 2020

Do you have any recommendations for the use of UVC light for a small business. And can you recommend a specific brand. Have you done testing with UVC and how to properly make it functional in regards to SARS-COVID2 In a small business setting?
May 20, 2020
May 20, 2020

What is considered a dish cloth?
May 20, 2020

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf). If we can get more information about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

May 18, 2020

Did not mention anything about coffee filters
May 21, 2020

There is some very preliminary research from Missouri University suggesting that coffee filters, and other materials such as Hepa or furnace filters, and vacuum cleaner bags, may make homemade fabric masks more effective, but researchers caution that cutting some materials, such as furnace filters, may create small fibers of material that should not be inhaled because they can irritate and damage the lungs. To avoid this, they recommend placing these types of materials in between layers of fabric. For more about this see the researchers video on YouTube

November 15, 2020

Dr. Peter Tsai (inventor of the N95 mask material) recommends against using coffee filter and paper towels: "You should not use a coffee filter, or you cannot use a paper towel, because coffee filters and paper towels are made of wood pulp. They are not fibers.

The breathing resistance is very high, because they are very compact. They are hydrophilic, so if there is a droplet that lands on it, then the droplet will spread out. Then it may penetrate through the paper towel or filter. Then it will contaminate your nose or mouth. It does not have a good efficiency. The resistance is very high, so paper towels and coffee filters are not good material to use.

Shop towels can be a material to use because they’re made of fibers."

May 17, 2020

My husband found an old face shield in our basement that he had used for welding. I bought a face shield from Staples for $6.50 with free delivery; it was hard, but we removed the covering on both sides of the shield. Voila! I turn a screw in the back of the head covering to make it fit my smaller head.

May 16, 2020

I went to the CDC site to find the test results of KN 95 masks (for filtration efficiency, etc.) but all it listed was companies making N 95 masks. Do you know where the KN 95 list can be found?

May 19, 2020

It is in the link we provided. You will see many KN-95 masks listed.

May 14, 2020

I have yet to find a dish cloth made of 15% nylon and 85% polyester. Could this ba a microfiber cloth?
May 20, 2020

In the study cited above, the dish cloth was only described as a "used dish cloth," made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon. The study also includes a small, up close photo of the dish cloth fabric (use the link to the study above, and see the photos under Table 1 in the pdf). If we are able to get further details about the dish cloth used in the study, we will post that information here.

July 26, 2020

It is a microfiber cloth with a nubby texture. Found one in my closet and also on Amazon.

May 13, 2020

I don't see any benefit in wearing a mask unless in contact with others. as I find them uncomfortable. In fact, I'm wondering how much carbon dioxide I'm inhaling and if this could be detrimental in the long run. Any studies on that?
May 27, 2020

The CDC advises "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations." ( We've added information about the potential for carbon dioxide build up in N95 masks in the answer above.

November 15, 2020

My wife is a respiratory therapist working in COVID-19 crisis ICUs. She wears a surgical mask over an N95 mask during each 12 to 13 hours each shift. She has not had CO2 poisonings problems but has experienced headaches.

May 13, 2020

I'm seeing activated charcoal and activated carbon masks. Is there any reason to think that adding activated carbon or charcoal to a face mask would have any benefit? And I'm talking just a regular, relatively thin masks, not the kind with cylindrical cartridges.
June 15, 2020

We aren't aware of any studies on the effectiveness of activated charcoal on mask efficacy for COVID-19.

May 10, 2020

Out of curiosity: during the Covid-19 pandemic, which medical personnel require N-95 masks--like what are they doing on the job--and which can use surgical or home-made masks. Thanks.
May 11, 2020

Please see CDC healthcare personnel guidance for Understanding and Selecting Respiratory Protection Devices (

The CDC defines healthcare personnel as paid and unpaid persons who provide patient care in a healthcare setting or support the delivery of healthcare by providing clerical, dietary, housekeeping, engineering, security, or maintenance services (

May 10, 2020

Would it be possible for people with something like the KN95 masks with ear loops rather than head bands to cut some elastic bands and carefully attach (staple?) them to the sides of such masks without compromising their effectiveness?
May 11, 2020

We don't know.

May 10, 2020

N95 masks increase the breathing workload, which requires focusing on breathing and increases mask fatigue.

More isn't always better.

May 10, 2020

Excellent work. Well organized and very helpful. Living in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and working on a taskforce to keep current accurate information available to expat community and to locals as well. Appreciate the work you are doing.

May 20, 2020

I have a sister living in San Cristobal de las Casas, MX. She has shared that it is difficult to get accurate and current information there. Is there a website or source of information I can share with her please? Thank you.

May 20, 2020

Need accurate/current Covid-19 information/ statistics for SanCristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. My sister lives there, please and thank you!
May 20, 2020

Our website is accessible in Mexico and most countries, although it is in English. We don't have information about other resources in Mexico.
May 20, 2020

You can find international COVID-19 statistics through Google News: Enter the country or city you want to see statistics for in the search bar in the middle of the page.

Here is the page for Chiapas, Mexico:

May 27, 2020

Facebook group COVID19SMA is being produced by first rate epidemiologists and infectious disease professionals. I recommend it. Info specific to Mexico is available. (retired Doc)

May 10, 2020

The Aydin paper claims that a new T-shirt with two layers blocks more than the used dishcloth, weighs less, and is almost as breathable. A T-shirt might also be more comfortable to wear as a mask than a dishcloth.
May 11, 2020

Yes, however, it is not clear if that would remain the case after washing a mask made from a new T-shirt. Results with used shirts were not as good as with the new T-shirt.

May 7, 2020

Homemade dishcloths better than N95 is very questionable. I don't see any medical front line professionals wearing dishcloths. Is this article for real?
May 7, 2020

A fair question as this is a serious topic. N-95 masks would certainly seem preferable -- if available. If not, when the level of protection with an N-95 mask is necessary, these approaches may be helpful. This area of research is evolving and, as we note, the studies above have not yet appeared in peer-reviewed journals. We are presenting this information because of the urgency of the current situation.

May 10, 2020

From the paper: "...blocking efficiency of mask fabric against aerosolized and dry airborne particles (usually less than 1µm in size) is beyond the scope of this study. Our goal is to provide scientific insight in the use of home-made facemask fabrics against droplet

May 7, 2020

I have a question for ConsumerLab and others who have tried this: I cut an old pair of nylons into the desired length and put it over my face mask. It was indeed, a good seal. However...How am I supposed to take it off without contaminating my face? I had a really hard time doing this when I practiced....Would appreciate some tips. Thanks!
May 7, 2020

We reached out to the lead researcher at Northeastern, Dr. Loretta Fernandez, who was kind enough to respond with the following: "With washed hands, place the fingers under the nylon below the chin with palms facing toward the body. While spreading fingers to support the mask, lift the mask up and over the face and head. This way seems to work for us to remove the nylons without smearing the nylons along the face and head."

May 8, 2020

Thank you, ConsumerLab! I am very grateful for this website, and all the work that you do to help keep us safe!
May 8, 2020

Thank you for your kind words Mary.

May 6, 2020

Do you have link for the dishcloth fabric or dishcloth used in the study?
May 7, 2020

The study doesn't include information about the exact brand of dish cloth used, but it does note that it was a blend of 85% polyester and 15% nylon.

May 6, 2020

In the above study on face masks made with dishcloths did it say if the material was double layered?
May 6, 2020

One layer of dishcloth fabric was used.

May 7, 2020

It seems as though thread count would be relevant to the mask. Also microfiber can be a polyester blend or 100% polyester. Do we need more information before we conclude our homemade mask is more efficient than a surgical mask? The idea is a good one.
May 8, 2020

The details are available in the papers which are published online using the links above.

May 13, 2020

have you been able to test any existing (not homemade) masks on the market? would love to purchase some but not sure where to get quality masks.
May 13, 2020

We are not testing masks, but reporting on studies where masks have been tested. As far as where to get a good mask, know that any mask is better than no mask if you are going to be within 6 feet of people with whom you are not self-quarantining. N-95 respirators are the best devices but, due to the shortage, should be reserved for medical and other personnel whose jobs require close contact with infectious individuals. After that, consider KN-95 masks, but be sure to select a brand with a high filtration efficacy (see our information above) and that provides a good fit that prevents air leakage around the sides. Medical/surgical masks (the light blue masks) may be the next best option and are available. Cloth masks can also be a good option, especially if they prevent air leakage. Where to buy these? We don't have suggestions -- but other readers are welcome to comment on where they are finding products that ship in a reasonable time frame.

May 14, 2020

Thank you, this is very helpful : )

May 17, 2020

Should goggles be worn to protect the eyes from Covid 19?

Susan S20004
May 22, 2020

I found boxes of surgical masks at Walgreen's recently (20 count). Made in China....

May 24, 2020

do you think the masks being offered with copper threads might be more effective

May 29, 2020

I have to travel overseas up to 18 hours with mask> How to avoid carbon dioxide?
June 3, 2020

We've added information about copper masks to the answer above.
June 3, 2020

Use of eye protection has been associated with significantly lower transmission rates. For more about this see
June 3, 2020

If you are planning on wearing a very efficient mask, like an N95, and you start to feel uncomfortable or have a headache, take it off and wear a lighter mask for a little while. So consider bringing two types of masks.

June 3, 2020

Thank you for your attention. I really appreciated your information
June 3, 2020

Thank you for letting us know. We're glad you're finding it helpful.

August 16, 2020

I’m disappointed that VistaPrint changed the fabric as I just received my order of masks and filters. In any case, I am confused about the proper and safe usage of these masks and filters. As you note, the masks are washable and the filters should be replaced after every 12 hours of use. I always wash my masks after each usage. So with this VistaPrint (trumask) mask, if I go out for an hour walk every day, when I get home, am I supposed to take out the filter, wash the mask and then the next day put the used filter back into the clean mask? Please advise.
August 27, 2020

Unfortunately the guidance for using these filters is not more specific than the recommendation to change after 12 hours of use, but how often you need to change the filter may depend on the environment in which you use it, the risk level of that environment, etc.

December 2, 2020

I wear a disposable mask from CVS, the a cloth mask over it (some seal the edges of underneath mask, then wear a face shield over that. Fogging is a pain, and sometimes have to take face shield off here and there to see, but feel like hopefully am better protected.

February 22, 2021

I'm a 5'4" woman who weighs about 130 pounds. A little on the small side for an adult woman, but I certainly wouldn't say I stand out. I tried many masks and could never find one that fit, including some of the masks mentioned here. I ended up wearing a Baggu mask that is very adjustable, which has worked fine. I would now like to double mask with a surgical mask, but every surgical mask I've seen is huge on me. Not only do they not fit, but they actually cover my eyes slightly. Child-sized surgical masks are too small. I can only assume surgical masks are sized for an average size man. How would I even find a surgical mask that would fit me? I would use a filter but I've found that I have trouble breathing with a filter in this particular mask (possibly because I have asthma). Are there any surgical masks likely to fit me?

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