It is important to note that not all cloth masks are created equal. If you are using a cloth mask, consider the fabric, number of layers, and fit. The most effective cloth mask will have a fabric with a tight weave, multiple layers, and one that cups tightly around the face. This will most securely block your respiratory droplets from contaminating other individuals and surfaces.
Surgical face mask are made in different thicknesses and with different ability to protect you from contact with liquids. These properties may also affect how easily you can breathe through the face mask and how well the surgical mask protects you.
If worn properly, a surgical face mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose. Surgical face masks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
While a surgical face mask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures. Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the face mask and your face.
Medical face masks like the 3M™ N95 Respirator are carefully designed and manufactured to ensure that they provide optimal protection and help to prevent the spread of disease. How effective your face mask is will depend on the material that it constructed from. Some medical face shields are designed to reduce the spread of germs from the wearer only. They do not filter out harmful particulates but instead trap infected air from spreading past the material of the mask. The N95 mask both traps germs within the mask and filters out germs in the air that the wearer is breathing. It is also capable of filtering out dust, smoke and other air pollutants.


  • If a disposable face mask becomes moist, you should remove it and throw it away. Most masks aren’t resistant to fluids, so they’re no longer effective when wet.
  • Always examine a disposable face mask before you put it on to be sure there aren’t any holes or tears in it.
  • Be sure to place a disposable mask on your face right side up. The top edge of the mask is usually bendable so that it can conform to the shape of your nose.
  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer before you put on a disposable face mask and after you take it off to make sure that you don’t contaminate the mask or your surroundings with particulates.

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