face mask

Having a face mask on hand when you go out is essential. But the longer the pandemic persists, you more you may want to consider investing in a longer-term mask. The best disposable masks can be effective, especially if you’re using professional-grade N95 or KN95 masks or blue medical masks. But if you’re concerned about the waste factor of throwing away masks, or just don’t want to constantly remind yourself to buy more, reusable masks are the way to go.

Many of the top reusable face masks are cloth-based, and are fairly easy to clean. Think about a face mask like any other article of clothing that picks up dirt and grime when you step outside. Whether you’ve got a lightweight, breathable pick for summer months, or a heartier cotton blend winter mask, the material is still going to collect the sweat and condensation from your face and mouth.

The CDC still recommends washing cloth face coverings after every use, but that doesn’t mean reusable masks can’t be a convenient alternative to disposable ones. With proper care and cleaning, the best reusable masks can have a long lifespan, with protection that holds up against airborne viral particles. No more rooting around in your bag for another blue disposable mask, or checking online only to find that your favorite masks are sold out again. 

Got the vaccine already? Even if it’s been two weeks after your final dosage, and you can now gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without a mask, the latest CDC guidelines still urge you to protect yourself and others when you’re in public. You’ll need to keep wearing a good-quality reusable or disposable mask for the near future, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

To help you pick out a great reusable, easy-to-wash mask, we’ve provided some tips on what to look for in mask that’s going to get a lot of mileage.

What Are the Best Reusable Face Masks?

According to the CDC, the most effective cloth masks have materials that follow these guidelines:

  • Tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and cotton blends
  • Breathable
  • Two or three fabric layers

That being said, always check the label of your mask, since some companies use custom fabric blends, especially to increase warmth during the winter, or wick moisture.

One of the most important factors is the seal of the mask itself. Your mask should fit tightly over your nose and mouth, not leaving any gaps that might allow viral particles to pass through. Look for a reusable face mask with adjustable ear straps, or masks with a tight cone shape that will fit the contour of the bridge of your nose. If your cloth mask doesn’t have adjustable straps, make sure it’s still form-fitting and won’t move around too much on your face.

You can also customize any reusable cloth mask you get to enhance the fit—there are flexible metal nose strips, or mask extenders, which will also have the added bonus of reducing how much your glasses fog up, if you wear them. Double-masking with a non-medical mask over a disposable medical mask is also a great way to have added layers of protection, combined with a tighter seal on your face.

The best cloth face coverings are also machine-washable, or can at least be washed by hand. While they won’t hold up forever, they can still be worn dozens of times, and washing them will help prevent them from building up bacteria and germs on the surface.

With that advice in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks for reusable face masks that will stand up to frequent use.


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