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Face masks: New standards for choosing an effective mask

The pandemic has brought many changes to our lives, and most of us are adapting as needed. By now, wearing face masks is the standard when in public.

Though they may feel like a chore, masks do help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Tap or click here to see how to more comfortably wear a mask without compromising safety.

When the pandemic was in its early stages, we were advised to use just about any piece of cloth to cover our mouths and noses. Now we are approaching a time when improved guidelines will help us make better decisions in that area. Until we get there, we now know how to use masks better to protect ourselves and others. Let’s take a look at what’s on the way.

Better labels, better decisions

Upcoming face masks could have new labels that cover things like filtration efficiency, fit and breathability. Consumer Reports cites a release from ASTM International, a group that provides performance standards for consumer products. Surgical and N95 masks have had standards for some time, but this will soon apply to the general public’s everyday masks.

Until the new standards are set, here is some guidance from the CDC.


  • Use masks that have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.
  • The mask should completely cover your nose and mouth.
  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against the sides of your face with no gaps.
  • Your mask should have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top.


  • Avoid masks that are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, such as vinyl.
  • Don’t use masks that have exhalation valves or vents, which allow virus particles to escape.
  • Leave off the masks intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators.

Good masks are easier to find now than they were last year. Here are some popular options.

1. Washable with adjustable ear loops & nose wire

These masks offer three layers of protection and are suitable for work, recreation, sports and everyday activities. They are washable, reusable and come in a variety of colors and patterns. The ear loops and nose wire are both adjustable. The innermost cotton layer has a pocket you can fill with a filter for extra protection. Get from Amazon for under $9.

2. Outdoor Research Essential face mask kit

This 100% polyester reusable face mask can be laundered up to 30 times without losing effectiveness. Its adjustable ear loops and nose wire ensure a good fit. Get a three-pack from Amazon for less than $18.

3. Withmoons cloth face mask 3-pack

With three cotton layers and an adjustable nose wire, these Withmoons face masks adhere to CDC guidelines. The inner liner is designed to minimize skin irritation. They are machine washable and offered in solid black as well as other colors and patterns. Get a three-pack from Amazon for under $16.

4. Simlu fabric face mask

These Simlu dual-layer cotton face masks are washable, reusable and have adjustable ear straps. The adjustable nose wire is hidden inside a seam. The breathable outer layer is black while the inner one is white. Get a six-pack for less than $19.

5. Disposable (good option for under cloth mask)

These Bigox disposable face masks have three layers of protection. You get a melt-blown polypropylene filtration fabric sandwiched between an outer non-woven fabric layer and a skin-friendly non-woven inner layer. Elastic ear straps and an adjustable nose clip keep things simple and comfortable. Get a pack of 50 from Amazon for less than $10.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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