cloth v n95/kn95 v surgical mask

how do we know that surgical masks in particular are that much better than cloth masks?  One article said it was based on single layer cloth.  My cloth masks have 4 laters including a disposable filter, they have a metal nose piece and adjustable straps.  I have a small supply of surgical masks that I use for higher risk activities like going to the doctor since I will be in a small area with them for a while, but for things like grocery stores where I am not standing among the same people for a long period I am comfortable with the cloth mask (I am boosted--i think 3 months ago and they are saying the booster starts to wear off in a couple months....

I hate mail order, don't have amazon prime....(and besides they have a lot of junk from 3rd party sellers)...I have not seen surgical/95 masks in any store I have been in.

cloth masks vary greatly....so how do they know all surgical masks are better than all cloth?


I agree with you on this.  Most of the talk about cloth masks being less effective seems to be centering on one or two layer cloth masks, which are much thinner than the 4 layer cloth masks that I have.  It's hard to know for sure how much difference there is in effectiveness between a surgical mask and my cloth mask.  I suspect they are pretty close.  My cloth mask certainly fits my face much better than a surgical mask, with no gaps, so that improves its function.  And my cloth mask is made up of two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric and two layers of non-woven material, which is supposed to be pretty good.  It would be helpful, though, if someone in an official capacity spoke about these differences.


Given the changing number and types of masks out there, I'm not sure what kind of official advice can be given.  Your best bet is always going to be an N95 if you can get one.  Your worst bet is going to be the simple cloth/cotton ones that were most popular in the earlier days and did not make a seal on your face.  


No doubt N95 is the standard, but the ones i've tried fit so badly that i might as well just be holding my hand up in front of my face.  Like others, i have been using washable cotton masks, 3 layers plus removable/replaceable nonwoven filter + nose wire.  They seem to work best for me.  (Though who knows if they're actually "working" -- at least they cover and fit well and are comfortable enough to actually wear.)

And so far i've managed not to assault, or even crab at the ****es wearing their masks below their noses.  tongue rolleye


i wish I booked marked the chart, but it showed minimal protection for cloth, moderate for surgical, and the best with n95....i also read it only stays airborne for 5 minutes..so they do admit cloth is better than nothing.


jmitw said:

i wish I booked marked the chart, but it showed minimal protection for cloth, moderate for surgical, and the best with n95....i also read it only stays airborne for 5 minutes..so they do admit cloth is better than nothing.

As I recall, that chart did not distinguish between 1-layer cloth masks and multi-layer with the addition of a replaceable filter.  I would like to see some comparisons of those available filters as I suspect that at least some offer similar protection to N95/KN95/etc.


I mainly wear my 3-ply cloth mask, but for some situations (airplane, dr’s office) I wear a surgical mask under it. The surgical mask is too big for my face to wear by itself but works great with the tighter cloth mask.


Layers don’t matter if air is pouring around the sides of the mask. Cloth masks don’t fit tightly enough to protect you from my sneezes. They’re great at protecting me from yours. 

I wear a KF94 (Korean N95 equivalent). They fit great and don’t look as goofy as some other high-filtration masks. You can get them from Amazon or https://kollecteusa.com/. Start with the smallest box you can find in case you don’t like the fit as much as me. 


my cloth mask fist the same as a surgical masks...the point is you can't make a general statement about the effectiveness of clothe masks because they vary greatly in quality...mine have BETTER elastic ear loops that can be tightened, sides/top/bottom reinforced.

i had a package of kn95, they were too tight and broke easily because it was a 1 size fits all strap and made to be tight...so if you face structure isn't compatible, it doesn't fit...the kn95 gives similar cover to the cloth

and sneezing into the mask is gross....i always carry tissues and a small garbage bag, if i Have to sneeze, i remove the mask, cover my nose and mouth with thick tissue then dispose of it.


I am on SSDI,, i didn't really have the money to buy masks to begin with...started with a make shift one that was legal but ineffective, lucked out, found some on clearance for a $1....and then found some more that were 2 for $5..there was no way I was going to be able to pay $20 a piece for them....i don't have the money to buy disposable masks..especially when the biggest risk is to people who refuse to get themselves or their kid vaccinated.....and I can't find any info on exactly what type of clothe mask they tested.....

i don't know how they can say surgical covers better than cloth, when good cloth masks are designed to be the same shape/fit as surgical and are thicker (with a filter)


jmitw said:

my cloth mask fist the same as a surgical masks...the point is you can't make a general statement about the effectiveness of clothe masks because they vary greatly in quality...mine have BETTER elastic ear loops that can be tightened, sides/top/bottom reinforced.

i had a package of kn95, they were too tight and broke easily because it was a 1 size fits all strap and made to be tight...so if you face structure isn't compatible, it doesn't fit...the kn95 gives similar cover to the cloth

and sneezing into the mask is gross....i always carry tissues and a small garbage bag, if i Have to sneeze, i remove the mask, cover my nose and mouth with thick tissue then dispose of it.

I am on SSDI,, i didn't really have the money to buy masks to begin with...started with a make shift one that was legal but ineffective, lucked out, found some on clearance for a $1....and then found some more that were 2 for $5..there was no way I was going to be able to pay $20 a piece for them....i don't have the money to buy disposable masks..especially when the biggest risk is to people who refuse to get themselves or their kid vaccinated.....and I can't find any info on exactly what type of clothe mask they tested.....

i don't know how they can say surgical covers better than cloth, when good cloth masks are designed to be the same shape/fit as surgical and are thicker (with a filter)

you know, there's a whole science behind mask effectiveness and particulate transmission. It's not like these recommendations are being made up out of thin air.


Well I’m really sorry, but the bottom line is that an N95 equivalent works better than a surgical mask which works better than a cloth mask. Do whatever you want but it is what it is.

jmitw said:

my cloth mask fist the same as a surgical masks...the point is you can't make a general statement about the effectiveness of clothe masks because they vary greatly in quality...mine have BETTER elastic ear loops that can be tightened, sides/top/bottom reinforced.

i had a package of kn95, they were too tight and broke easily because it was a 1 size fits all strap and made to be tight...so if you face structure isn't compatible, it doesn't fit...the kn95 gives similar cover to the cloth

and sneezing into the mask is gross....i always carry tissues and a small garbage bag, if i Have to sneeze, i remove the mask, cover my nose and mouth with thick tissue then dispose of it.

I am on SSDI,, i didn't really have the money to buy masks to begin with...started with a make shift one that was legal but ineffective, lucked out, found some on clearance for a $1....and then found some more that were 2 for $5..there was no way I was going to be able to pay $20 a piece for them....i don't have the money to buy disposable masks..especially when the biggest risk is to people who refuse to get themselves or their kid vaccinated.....and I can't find any info on exactly what type of clothe mask they tested.....

i don't know how they can say surgical covers better than cloth, when good cloth masks are designed to be the same shape/fit as surgical and are thicker (with a filter)


again the point is, N95/KN 95 have a standard design/material....cloth mask can range anywhere from a single layer handkerchief to a complex well made multi layer design...


jmitw said:

again the point is, N95/KN 95 have a standard design/material....cloth mask can range anywhere from a single layer handkerchief to a complex well made multi layer design...

and how do you know that a multi-layered cloth mask is better than x?


There’s a reason guys don’t blast asbestos off of pipes in a cloth mask. No matter how many layers.

Best of luck to you, and I really mean that.




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