We’ve tested dozens of cloth face masks over the last 9 months — here are the 17 best ones
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Wearing a face mask is vital to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, along with other CDC guidelines such as maintaining 6 feet of social distance and washing your hands frequently.
Wearing face masks in public is firstly about social responsibility. Cloth face coverings mostly help protect other people from your germs, which is especially important because you could be asymptomatic or presymptomatic and not know that you’re carrying the virus. The exceptions to the masks-in-public rule are kids under the age of two and anyone who has trouble breathing or is otherwise unable to remove their mask without assistance.
“If everyone wears a mask when in public, the ones who have illness in them, whether symptomatic or not, will not contaminate the environment,” Chris Ziebell, an emergency medical director for US Acute Care Solutions, previously told Business Insider.
Since healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients are most in need of medical-grade surgical masks and N95 masks, the CDC has encouraged the general public to wear cloth face masks instead.
“We’re getting to the point that we want everybody to wear masks when going outside, especially if they’re going to be in a setting that cannot be more than 6 feet apart from others,” Roberto Posada, MD, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Mount Sinai previously said to INSIDER. “Ideally, [they should wear] a new mask each day or each time they have to go out,” Posada explained.
The CDC recommends that face masks have the following features:
- A snug fit that sits comfortably against the face and doesn’t gap on the sides
- Two or more layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- The ability to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Throughout the pandemic, the Insider Reviews team has dug into it all — including whether rental cars and Airbnbs are safe as well as where to buy groceries, toilet paper, effective hand sanitizer, EPA-registered cleaning supplies, and face masks. So I asked my colleagues which face masks they’ve worn and recommend the most, because there’s nothing like first-person feedback to help you decide which one is best for you.
Below, you’ll find 17 of our favorite tried-and-true masks that are comfortable, breathable, reliable, and relatively affordable.