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Which type of mask do I need?

There’s a lot of information out there about when and where to wear a mask and what type of mask you need for various situations. Use this quick guide to help you decide which kind of face mask best fits your needs.

Mask type Who’s it best for? Description How long does it last?
N95, KN95 respirator masks 
Healthcare workers
Blocks at least 95% of airborne particles when worn properly. Adheres to government testing regulations.
Can be reused in certain situations, but must be discarded after coming into contact with bodily fluids, infected patients and in other circumstances. Read the CDC’s full reuse guidelines.
Surgical face masks 
People who are sick and caretakers
Protects wearers from infecting others. Usually made of 3 layers of melt-blown fabric.
Intended to be discarded after every use.
Cloth face masks 
The general population when in a public space
Typically made from cotton fabric with elastic or tie straps. Some designs have a pocket to place a removable filter.
Can be washed and reused for weeks or even months, as long as the material maintains its integrity.
DIY face masks 
The general population when in a public space
Can be homemade using an old T-shirt, bandana, coffee filter or other readily available materials.
Depends on the materials used. Most DIY cloth masks can be washed and reused for weeks or even months, as long as the material maintains its integrity.