Types of Masks

Types of Masks

There are many types of masks you can use to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19. When choosing a mask, choose one that fits snugly. Learn more about how to choose a mask that fits well and offers the best protection.

Cloth Masks

Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics, and many types of cloth masks are available.

Look for

  • Multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric
  • Nose wire
  • Mask should block light when held up to bright light source
mask considerations tightly woven

Do NOT wear

  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents
  • Single layer or masks made of thin fabric that don’t block light
DO NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape

When to wear

  • Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people who don’t live with you.
Wear a mask anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.

2 Ways to have better fit and extra protection

  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
  • Combine a cloth mask with a fitter or brace
A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace

Disposable Masks

Disposable face masks are widely available.

Look for:

  • A description indicating multiple layers of non-woven material
  • Nose wire  
Disposable masks are widely available.

Do NOT wear

  • Masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose
  • If wet or dirty  
Masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose

When to wear

  • Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.
Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.

Ways to have better fit and extra protection

  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
  • A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace
  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask
illustration of how to double up masks

knot and fold

KN95 Masks

KN95 masks are a type of filtering facepiece respirator that are commonly made in China and similar to N95 masks commonly used in the United States.

Look for

KN95 masks that meet requirements similar to those set by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for respirators

KN95 masks that meet requirements similar to those set by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Do NOT wear

  • If you have certain types of facial hair
  • Counterfeit (fake) KN95 masks
  • If hard to breathe
  • With other masks; wear KN95 alone only

BE AWARE: About 60% KN95 masks in the United States are counterfeit (fake) and DO NOT meet NIOSH requirements.

Do NOT wear KN95 masks if you have certain types of facial hair

For a better fit and additional protection
Taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19

Sometimes, you may need more protection to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19.

For more information on science behind improving how your mask protects you, see Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19.

Prioritize N95 respirators for healthcare workers
Reserve N95 respirators for healthcare workers.

CDC recommends that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators. As N95s become available they can be worn in non-healthcare settings.