Coronavirus: so, you’re thinking about reusable N95 masks!
Many citizens still do not have a solution for the high price of the disposable N95 masks that are most often recommended for coronavirus prevention. However, there are reusable N95 masks that are just as effective, much cheaper and useful for much longer… but no one seems to be talking about them. This shopping guide will help you see more clearly so that you can protect yourself without breaking the bank!
The cheap N95 mask does exist, and is reusable
A quick payback on your investment
The reusable N95 mask is a quick payback on your investment. Normally, the argument in favor of disposable masks is that it is cheaper because you only use it once, as when protecting against a virus, it is only used for a certain period of time. However, during this pandemic, there is a shortage of this type of mask, which has skyrocketed the price, leading to numerous abuses.
The price of the reusable N95 mask has not changed. And yes, these masks are normally reserved for professionals whose function requires them to wear it regularly, but this is exactly why it is more than convenient to use a reusable N95 mask as protection against coronavirus.
Reusable N95 masks versus disposable ones
At the moment, they can only be bought online and in bulk (don’t expect to find them in pharmacies), a disposable N95 mask costs about 3€ (instead of 0.50€ which would be the normal price). Knowing, as explained above, that the mask will have to be discarded, even if it has been worn for less than 8 hours, we can estimate that 2 masks will be used each day. In other words, 6€ per day.
Then, after 5 days you will have spent 30€ on masks (or after 10 days if you only use one daily). And 30€ is much more than the price of a reusable N95 mask, which has a lifespan of several weeks.
Reusable N95 masks with the best price/performance ratio
Here are the reusable masks with the best quality-price ratio that we could find belong. They are all delivered ready to use, that is, with 2 cartridges and 2 filters:
|Reusable mask||$13.99||Delivered within|
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
|USA and CanadaView this offer|
e 1317 customer reviewsUK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries
However, you should be careful about this, because the filters are not N95 certified, we advise you to take filters to replace the original ones if you want to get a reusable N95 mask (it is better if you buy the filters in advance, so that they can be easily replaced as soon as possible when needed). You can find replacement filters below (the 3M 5N11 filters fit these masks perfectly, as they are designed according under the same standards):
|10 N95 filters|
3 to 8 days
Shipped from USA
|USA and CanadaView this offer|
e 447 customer reviewsUK & Ireland | Australia | Other countries
Reusable full-face masks
The term “reusable mask” is most often used to refer to “reusable half masks”, i.e. masks that protect the nose and mouth, but not the eyes. These are the most common models, but it has now been established that the coronavirus also poses a risk of contamination through the eyes, which are mucous membranes just like the mouth or nose.
To address this problem, protective eyewear should be used in addition to the half-mask, whether disposable or reusable.
But there is another solution, certainly more radical but also safer: the use of full-face masks, also known as a full masks, that is, they protect the nose and mouth like a half-mask, but also the eyes, thanks to their visor that ensure that air polluted with tiny splashes of saliva cannot reach the eyes.
The two models you will find below are strongly inspired by the 3M 6800 full face mask but are not of this brand. However, they are models with an excellent quality-price ratio, with satisfied users, as shown by their opinions visible on the product site.
Here is a model delivered with its 2 cartridges and 10 N95 filters (model 3M 5N11), so it is ready to use, and for a long time!
There is also the mask below delivered with 2 cartridges and 2 filters, but beware: the filters supplied doesn’t have the N95 certificate. We therefore advise you to replace them with the filters proposed a above (3M 5N11), perfectly compatible as this mask complies with the same standard as the 3M masks. This will also allow you to have spare filters, since you will obviously have to replace them eventually:
Watch out for the reusable cloth masks!
Many attractive offers of reusable cloth masks are emerging everywhere. Although they come in a variety of shapes and colors, they are easily recognized by their rectangular filter with “PM2.5” written in one corner. These activated carbon filters only filter out PM2.5, in other words, just dust, not viruses, which are much smaller particles.
Unfortunately, in the midst of this pandemic, many brands are trying to pass off these masks, which are certainly reusable, as N95 masks, claiming that they are effective against the coronavirus. Completely false statement, you should be on the lookout for these types of masks no matter what the titles and other descriptions on the product pages say…
The problem of disposable masks
Unlike disposable masks, a reusable mask can be worn after use. This is the problem with disposable masks: a surgical mask must be discarded after 3 hours and a disposable N95 mask after 8 hours. They are basically single-use masks, in other words, it is forbidden to use them again, even if they have been used for less than their lifespan.
A small example: you take the subway in the morning for 20 minutes to go to work and wear a disposable N95 mask as a precaution. Even if the mask is good for 8 hours, you cannot put it back on for the return trip because you have already used it once. As soon as you arrive at work you will have to throw it away immediately, and put on another one to go home at night, which you will eventually have to throw away again when you get home. Result: 2 masks of 8 hours each (16 hours potential) would have lasted in total… 40 minutes.
What does N95 and KN95 / FFP2 mean?
The protective masks are classified according to 3 levels of protection. FFP1, which are insufficient in the context of coronavirus prevention and are only intended for people who are already contaminated (in order to stop infectious saliva splashes, like the chirurgical masks).
N95 offers the recommended level of protection against coronavirus (and FFP3 an even higher level of filtration).
The N95 standard is Amercian, in Europe it corresponds to the FFP2 standard and in China to the KN95. The N95 (and KN95) guarantees that at least 95% of the particles, including bacteria, will be filtered and the FFP2 guarantees that at least 94% of the particles will be filtered.
How does a reusable N95 mask work?
This is a protection mask with filter cartridges. Unlike disposable masks, this type of mask can be worn an unlimited number of times, however, the filters must be replaced periodically (but not the cartridges).
We often tend to think that a medical mask is necessarily disposable, and that reusable masks are reserved for DIYers, but as soon as you opt for a reusable mask whose filters are certified P2 (or N95 / KN95 in the American standards), you have an N95 mask that is effective against coronavirus, just as an N95 disposable mask would be.
When should cartridge filters be changed?
After about 3 or 4 weeks you will start to feel a resistance during inhalation. This is a sign that the filters are loaded with particles and need to be replaced. We can only rely on this indicator to know how long the filters will last, since the lifespan of the filters depends a lot on the composition of the air that will pass through them (pollution, dust, etc.).
Some people talk about several months before they start feeling this resistance in the air, but since it is a virus and not the smell of paint and other powders, we prefer to be cautious and recommend them for “about 3 or 4 weeks”.
When and how to clean a reusable N95 mask?
The reusable N95 mask must be cleaned after each use, i.e. every time it is removed from your face. Ideally, this should be done with disposable gloves to avoid any risk of contamination. For this cleaning, you should use wipes with a high disinfecting power (containing 70% alcohol) as described below:
Is a reusable mask more effective than a disposable one?
We often hear that a disposable N95 mask is only effective if used correctly. This is because often the small metal bar that bends around the nose does not guarantee a perfect seal between the mask and the face, i.e. unfiltered air can reach directly into the mouth or nose without going through the filter, presenting a risk of contamination.
This would not happen with a reusable N95 mask, as these models are rigid and have a seal (between the edges of the mask and the face) and adjustable straps, ensuring that only air passing through the filters is breathed.
Disadvantages of a reusable mask
As you may have understood, we advise you to use a reusable N95 mask instead of one any quantity of disposable ones. But does this mask only have advantages? No, in fact, it only has two disadvantages. The first: it is less discreet than a disposable mask, aesthetically speaking, that is undeniable. But it’s up to you to decide if this really matters…
The second disadvantage is that, being reusable, it must be cleaned deeply well after each use (better with disinfectant cloths).
Now you are protected at a lower cost, without the constant price increase of N95 disposable masks!