Which masks could be used against coronavirus?

Coronavirus mask

To deal with the coronavirus, many citizens seek to protect themselves with a mask. But among the surgical masks, the “N95”, the disposable masks, the reusable ones… It is not always easy to find the right one, especially those with a quick delivery and a good price tag. We will guide you through this research, while we supervise the price increase and find the best products, so that you can avoid stock shortage and high prices.

Disposable N95 masks

N95 masks at the best price

Here, you can find a selection of N95 Masks – American standards (same as FFP2 European standards and KN95 Chinese standards), that is to say, these offer the most recommended level of protection against the coronavirus. The offers are selected according to their performance/price ratio, but also according to their delivery times.

We recommend the ones sold at Banggood.com since it has become one of the most used sites by us due to its delivery times. It is a serious e-commerce platform, little-known in our country, but very famous abroad. Users are satisfied with this company. We invested a lot to test their services, the masks were always shipped the same day and the delivery time was always respected. The comments from buyers on the product pages agree with this.
10 N95 masks10 N95 masks$15.99
($1.59 a mask)
Delivered within
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
USA and CanadaView this offer
and 1180 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries
10 N95 masks5 N95 masks$15.99
($3.18 a mask)
Delivered within
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
USA and CanadaView this offer
and 904 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries

How long does a N95 mask last?

Disposable N95 masks (also called “Duckbill” masks) have a lifespan of 8 hours. They must be perfectly positioned around the nose and cover the chin so that all incoming air is filtered, which is not always easy (and even harder with a surgical mask).

Important: any mask that has been used should be discarded, even if it has been used for less than its 8-hour lifespan. Never put a disposable mask back on if you have already used it!

Surgical masks

Surgical masks at the best price

Here you can find many surgical masks at a very good price and with the best delivery times of the moment:

30 surgical masks50 surgical masks$11.99
($0.24 a mask)
Delivered within
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
USA and CanadaView this offer
and 1139 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries
50 surgical masks50 surgical masks
for child
($0.32 a mask)
Delivered within
15 to 20 days
(choose "USA Priority Mail" delivery)
USA and CanadaView this offer
e 82 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries

Are surgical masks effective against coronavirus?

Surgical masks (or “face-mask”) are often subject to conflicting recommendations for coronavirus prevention. The truth is, that unlike N95 masks that filter in both directions, a surgical mask is designed to filter the air during exhalation and not inhalation.

Therefore, surgical masks are often recommended for people who are already infected with the virus, so that possible infectious salivation can be stopped. They are also recommended for those who believes they are infected or has recently been in contact with someone who contracted the virus.

On the other hand, if you are healthy, but want some protection against the coronavirus, it is best to use the N95 type of protection mask, available above.

Surgical mask lifespan

Surgical masks can be worn for a maximum of 3 hours at a time. They are neither washable nor reusable, and as in the case of N95 masks, all surgical masks must be discarded after use, even if worn for less than 3 hours.

Reusable N95 masks

These types of masks normally offer the indicated level of protection against coronavirus, as long as their cartridges contain N95 filters. These masks with filtering cartridges are washable, reusable and fit perfectly to the face, ensuring that all air is well filtered (unlike disposable N95 masks, which is their main weakness).

Reusable mask with the best price-performance ratio

Here you can find our selection of reusable masks, delivered ready-to-use, that is to say, with 2 cartridges and 2 filters.

Daniu reusable maskReusable mask$13.99Delivered within
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
USA and CanadaView this offer
e 1317 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries

However, you should be aware that filters supplied with these models are not N95 certified, so it is recommended that you purchase N95 certified filters in addition (if you wish to have a reusable mask with N95 protection level). Being the cartridges of this mask a standard model, you can resort to the 3M 5N11 filters available hereinbelow. They are perfectly compatible with these masks.

Replacement filters for reusable masks

It is recommended to buy more in advance as they will have to be changed eventually. Here are some filters adapted to the masks presented above:

10 N95 filters 3M 5N1110 N95 filters
(3M 5N11)
$7.39Delivered within
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
USA and CanadaView this offer
e 447 customer reviews
UK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries

How long do cartridge filters last?

The filters in the reusable mask cartridges offer protection from 20 hours, if used in dusty jobs, to several weeks, if used to protect against a virus; for example, when travelling in a city or on public transportation, without being exposed to a particularly dusty environment.

Many users even claim that their filters last for several months, but since it’s not dust or paint odors, but a virus, we prefer to be cautious about it.

How do I know when to change the filters?

The resistance of the air must be observed when breathing in, i.e. if inhalation becomes more difficult; this is the indicator used to know when to change the cartridge filters. Although the mask is washable and reusable, the filters (but not the cartridges) should be changed periodically.

This air resistance is due to the fact that filters are loaded with particles. It is therefore advisable to replace them with new filters to be well-protected and to maintain a comfortable breathing through the mask.

Please note that filters should be replaced once they are worn out, but not the cartridges.

When and how should the reusable mask be washed?

It is recommended to clean the mask carefully after each outing. Ideally, this should be done using disposable gloves (if you do not have any, you can find some below in this article). In any case, it is advisable to wash your hands properly before and after cleaning the mask. When you change the filters, take the opportunity to clean the inside of each cartridge, as this area is only accessible when there is no filter.

The best way to clean a reusable mask is using disinfectant pads (small wipes) that contain at least 70° of alcohol, such as those shown below:

What’s the difference with gas masks?

Filter cartridge respirators are often confused with gas masks because of the misuse of language and their striking visual similarity.

But “real” gas masks are the so-called “full” or “integral” models, which unlike half masks, they will protect the eyes as well as the nose – mouth – chin area, using a visor.

They are also equipped with ABEK type cartridges specially designed for gases (and not for particles, of which viruses are a part) of FFP3 protection level. Some really advanced models even use oxygen cartridges to be able to breathe totally isolated from the surrounding air.

Although this is the most complete protection available, there is no need to invest in a gas mask, which is not only very heavy, but also expensive (like its cartridges), and only justified in case of a deadly gas attack. On the other hand, in the case of a virus like Covid-19, and although they are less discreet aesthetically than disposable masks, filtering cartridge respirators are an excellent solution.

Reusable cloth masks (PM2.5 activated carbon filters)

Are they effective against the coronavirus?

Be very careful with reusable cloth masks that use activated carbon filters with “PM2.5” written on them. They are very tempting because of their cost-effectiveness, and although these masks are very effective against dust, they are by no means effective against viruses.

Unfortunately, many product pages try to make these articles look like anti-virus products, sometimes even writing “N95”, “FFP2” or “KN95” in the title or description of the ad.

PM2.5 activated carbon filters

Insufficient filtration and cleaning problems

Actually, these masks will not give you better protection than simple surgical masks. Making you wonder: can they replace surgical masks? The answer is no, because while the filters of these masks can be easily changed, the PM2.5 activated carbon mask, on the other hand, is difficult or even impossible to clean (unlike the reusable N95 masks designed for this purpose).

It doesn’t matter if sellers indicate these are washable, the 70% of alcohol needed to disinfect them ends up deteriorating them. And the worst part is that their level of filtration starts to malfunction without being possible to detect it.

Consequently, these products pose an obvious safety problem and therefore, although they offer a similar level of protection, the disposable surgical mask is preferred.

Finally, to avoid any confusion: the fact that a product indicates “PM2.5” in the title or description does not mean that it is bad or ineffective against coronavirus. For example, N95 masks filter viruses, but also PM2.5, which are simply… particles. But these reusable fabric masks only filter PM2.5, that’s the difference.

Protection mask standards update

What do N95 and KN95 mean?

You can see in the descriptions of these protection masks the term N95. This stands for the NIOSH American standards 42 CFR 84 , same with level KN95 which corresponds to the Chinese standards GB 2626-2006.

The N95 and KN95 masks filter 95% of the suspended particles, and are therefore well equivalent to FFP2 (they are even 1% more filtering than FFP2, which just filters a 94%).

What do FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 mean?

These masks are classified in 3 protection levels according to the European standards EN 149-2001 and A1:2009. The FFP1 level corresponds to surgical masks. To avoid Covid-19, the minimum recommended level of protection is FFP2. FFP2 masks filter at least 94% of suspended particles and FFP3 99% of them. FFP stands for “Filtering Facepiece Particles”.

Besides wearing a mask, what can I do to protect myself?

Wearing disposable gloves

If the respiratory tract is one of the two ways of coronavirus transmission, touching infected surfaces and then touching the face mucous membranes (such eyes, nose or mouth) is the second one. The best way to prevent the virus from sticking to your hand, which will inevitably end up being in these areas of your face (many, many times without you noticing), is wearing disposable gloves.

Once discarded, after a trip on the subway or a purchase in a store, for example, the hand can come back in contact with the face without risk of contamination.

Here you can find our selection of disposable gloves:

Protection glasses: avoid an eye contamination

Wearing a N95 mask prevents the tiny drops of contaminated saliva, potentially present in the inhaled air, from coming into contact with the mucous membranes of the nose or mouth. But did you know that the risk of contamination was exactly the same if they came into contact with the eyes ?

To protect them there are two possible solutions: wearing a complete (or integral) reusable mask, i.e. with a visor that protects the eyes like the models presented earlier in this article, or wearing some protection goggles in addition to a disposable or reusable half-mask. In this specific context, protection eyewear must also protect the side areas of the eyes, a feature hard to found in many models of safety glasses or goggles.

Here, you can check some safety glasses for these type of situations (they also protect the sides of the eyes). If you already wear glasses, please note that these wide models cover them completely. Therefore, you will not feel any discomfort, these two glasses are worn at the same time without any problems.

Protection glassesProtection glasses$9.99Delivered within
8 to 18 days
Shipped within 24 hours
View this offer

Hydroalcoholic gel

In addition to wearing a mask, it is recommended that you wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, for at least 40 seconds, with warm water and soap, paying special attention to the commonly forgotten thumbs and the areas between the fingers.

If you do not have a water source nearby, use an antibacterial hydroalcoholic gel, as described below:

How putting on and taking off your mask correctly?

Putting on the disposable mask (surgical or N95)

Putting on the disposable maskBefore putting the mask on, you should wash your hands properly (warm water + soap) and check that the mask is not defective or torn. The rigid part, generally made of a small metal bar, should be placed around the nose and not the chin. Otherwise, the mask will be upside down and therefore ineffective.

N95 and surgical masks have one or two elastic strips. In the images, the first case shows two elastic strips, which hang around the ears (most common models), the second case with two elastic strips as well, one strip goes behind the head and the other one behind the neck; and the third case has masks with a single elastic strip which goes behind the head.

Finally, some surgical masks have two non-elastic straps that you will have to tie behind your head for one, and behind your neck for the other.

Once the mask is in place and attached, pinch the small rigid part around the nose with your index finger and thumb. This should bend around the bridge of the nose and allow the mask to fit the face as closely as possible.

Then, adjust your mask and make sure the top of the mask covers the nose completely; also check it’s placed just in front of the eyes. The lower part of the mask should cover the whole chin. In the case of surgical masks, this adjustment under the chin should be achieved by stretching the mask out; just extend the three folds.

If the surgical masks have faces of different color, the blue face must be on the outside and the white face in contact with the face.

Correctly removal of a disposable mask

This is something we unfortunately don’t mention enough, and maybe we don’t always think about it, but, making sure we remove the mask in the right way is as important as learning how to put it on.

Only the elastics (or strips) are touched, and never the mask itself, especially its external face, that is, the one that was not in direct contact with the mouth. This is because, if your mask had stopped the virus, housing it on its surface, you could still be infected by touching the contaminated area and then your face…

When the mask is removed, do it next to the trash can where you plan to throw it away, in this way you will avoid storing it while waiting to discard it. Do not throw them directly into the trash, but into a plastic bag, tie it and then throw it away.

Lastly, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 40 seconds with hot, soapy water.

Fitting and Removing a Reusable Mask

Some of the recommendations given above for disposable masks are also valid for reusable masks. For example, it is important not to come into contact with the outer area of the mask, but to make sure that only the mask strap(s) are touched. However, in terms of fitting in, these models have the advantage because they fit snugly around the nose and chin, making it easier for the air to seal properly.

However, special care must be taken to ensure that the straps are fit and not too tight, in order to ensure that the mask can do its job while keeping you comfortable.

Can I create my own masks (or buy homemade ones)?

With the rising prices of N95 masks and even surgical masks, many people are wondering if it is possible to make their own masks. But while homemade is often good, it is impossible to design a reliable virus protection mask just by yourself.

The N95 level of protection is indeed very demanding, and unless state-of-the-art medical technology equipment and a home testing laboratory are available in your home, it will be impossible to reproduce a mask that meets the criteria of this standard.

And rightly so: the air must be able to circulate enough to allow breathing, but without letting in small particles like viruses. This is much more than just cloth and other materials which you can cut up and place in front of your nose or mouth with two elastic strips.

To design the filtering masks, manufacturers use specific materials that are not available on the market, they modify them into filters and superimpose them in several layers correctly so that all the air that passes through the mask is well filtered.

The masks are then tested with real viruses, which again requires state-of-the-art equipment, experience, standardized premises and adequate protective devices.

This type of homemade mask, instead of providing a “feeling of protection,” may not actually protect you from the coronavirus. It may even be less effective than a surgical mask which, although it has less filtration than a N95 (minimum level of protection against coronavirus) mask, already meets a sufficiently complex level of filtration. These levels make it impossible to design any product of equivalent effectiveness on your own.

Is the beard compatible with the use of a mask?

Bearded friends, be careful! In most cases (depending on the shape of the beard), it will be better to shave temporarily. In this sense, while the pandemic goes by, you will make sure you have a perfect seal between the mask and your skin, otherwise unfiltered air could pass under the mask and present a risk of contamination.

Some people even claim that these hairs can block the breathing valve of the mask, but the fact is that the area between the mask and the skin would not be airtight because of the hairs, that is the real problem.

But not all beards fall in the same group. For example, certain types of beards, moustaches and goatees are compatible with the use of a mask.

In general, any facial hair that can fit completely into the mask, without protruding beyond the edges, won’t present any particular risk. In other words, unsafe beards are those that have hair that comes in contact with the edges of the mask.

This recommendation comes to us from the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States. And since it did not occur in the context of the coronavirus but before (in 2017), some well-known French news sites claim that the beard is compatible with the use of a mask. But this is not the case, these recommendations are still very valid, whatever the reason for wearing a mask.

Nevertheless, a picture is worth a thousand words, here are the computerized graphics in question from the CDC, showing whether or not the beards are compatible with the mask:
beards compatible and not

Useful Coronavirus Reminders

When and how did the coronavirus appear?

The coronavirus appeared in China in December 2019, officially named 2019-nCoV and then Covid-19, first contracted and then transmitted between animals. Scientists then suspected that the bat was the first carrier of this virus, and that it would have contaminated the pangolin, an animal on the verge of extinction.

But as the bat hypothesis seems to be increasingly tested, the pangolin hypothesis is less and less so, although there is still one link in the chain of contamination between bats and humans that remains to be determined with certainty.

How is the coronavirus transmitted?

Once a human being is infected, the virus is transmitted to other human beings through the respiratory tract and physical contact, specifically through saliva splashes, no matter how tiny they are. That’s why masks are so important regarding the coronavirus, and even more important for infected people.

However, there is another way of contamination: touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated surface (door handle, mobile phone, computer keyboard, bank note, documents, etc.).

Since the virus can only survive a few hours on these surfaces outside the body, there is no need to worry if you receive a package that has been in contact with the virus. On the other hand, if an infected person has just touched a surface that you then touch, there would be a high risk of contamination, since the number of times a human being touches its face without realizing it is countless…

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

WHO estimates that the incubation period of the coronavirus is between one and eight days. The main symptoms are:

  • High temperature;
  • Constant coughing;
  • Muscle aches;
  • Breathing difficulties (for the most severe cases)
  • Conjunctivitis.

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We are not doctors, only experts in survival equipment, and we have been since long before the arrival of the Covid-19. We try to help by documenting as best we can, but our opinions are our own and we invite each reader of the above article to use the information given under their own responsibility.

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