How to Choose the Best Cloth Face Mask for You

How to Choose the Best Cloth Face Mask for You

You may find yourself reaching for a face mask less often now that vaccines are widely available. But masks will likely remain usefulif not requiredfor certain situations, even as going Cloth Face Mask increasingly becomes the norm. Compared with early on in the pandemic, now you have many high-quality masks to choose from: Between disposable respirators and comfortable, reusable cloth masks that filter nearly as well as medical-grade masksand can be adjusted for a more secure fitjust about everyone can find something they feel good wearing. Here we recommend a variety of cloth options that balance fit and comfort with filtration efficiency and breathability.

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We consulted a range of authorities, from fashion designers and textile experts to aerosol scientists and infectious-disease specialists, to zero in on the small but crucial design details that have an outsize impact on how a Cloth Face Masks fits and feels, andby extensionhow it helps reduce person-to-person viral transmission. We then commissioned independent lab tests to assess the filtration efficiency and breathability of a variety of cloth masks and filters, including our picks.
Because how well a specific Cloth Mask works for any given individual involves myriad factors (the size of a persons head and facial features, their behaviors, and the environment), we couldnt possibly identify the most effective cloth face mask for every person and every situation. However, based on extensive reporting, real-world fit and comfort testing, and scientific filtration-efficiency and breathability testing, we have a few recommendations. Our picks are adjustable in multiple ways and, when worn properly, can filter airborne particles better than most cloth masks, while still being easy enough to breathe through. All have pockets for an additional filter layer and can also be worn over a surgical-type mask. (For more information on N95 and KN95 respirators and surgical masks, see below. We have some preliminary recommendations for those, too.) Given that the best cloth face mask for you is the one youll wear and not fuss with, weve provided a range of options to help make that happen.
For advice on the best cloth face masks for children, see our buying guide just for kids face masks. In addition, weve identified a handful of legitimate N95 respirators, KN95 respirators, and surgical-style masks anyone can buy.
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