Important note: Amazon has recently stopped selling N95 masks on its website, saving them for hospitals and government agencies directly responding to COVID-19. The cloth masks on this page are an alternative for everyday wear by those not working in healthcare. As with all high-demand supplies right now, buy only what you need, and use them according to the advice of a trusted medical professional or official guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cloth masks may not have the same effectiveness as an N95 mask, but while N95 masks are being saved for use in hospitals, a cloth mask may be the next best alternative for everyday usage. Their effectiveness will vary with the size of the cloth mesh and quality of the mask.
Make sure the mask you purchase is a legitimate product from a reputable seller — especially when you’re buying on an online marketplace.
AliExpress is a global marketplace with a wide variety of items available from third-party sellers. Note that some buying options may take several weeks to arrive, depending on the country of origin.
Prime members can rely on Amazon for quick and free shipping, but be certain you’re buying from a reputable seller.
There’s a wide selection to choose from on eBay, with a lower chance of selling out of stock than other retailers. Plus, you can even filter your search by guaranteed delivery date if you’re in a hurry to receive your order.
Although originally intended for use while painting and performing other similar home improvement or construction tasks, the masks available at this hardware store can double as protection during the coronavirus outbreak.
- No free shipping
- No free returns
- No financing options
Face masks may be temporarily out of stock at many retailers due to increased demand. But don’t forget to check your local dollar store or even a specialty medical supply store. These often-overlooked shops may still have supplies while larger retailers restock.
While a cloth mask won’t guarantee the same level of effectiveness as an N95 mask with a valve, the cloth is there to prevent moisture (from breathing and coughing) from traveling too far in the air. According to KK Cheng, a public health expert at the University of Birmingham, “it’s not to protect yourself. It’s to protect people against the droplets coming out of your respiratory tract.”
Wearing a cloth mask can at least help you from spreading the virus to others. As you look for masks online, be wary of scams. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to equipment shortages, especially N95 masks. Some unscrupulous sellers are selling fakes to try to profit from the situation. 3M, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of masks, offers a tool to check if a product is genuine.
You can find cloth masks at several retailers listed above.
How to make your own cloth mask
If cloth or n95 masks are hard to find or out of stock online, consider sewing your own. Guides like this one from the New York Times outline the steps that can have you wearing a cloth mask in an hour or two. If you have a small swatch of fabric about the size of a napkin, shoelaces, scissors, and a needle and thread, you could make a mask today without additional supplies.
First, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before putting on your mask. When you’re ready to take it off, do not touch the front of the mask — it could be contaminated. Instead, remove it by pulling the bottom strap over the back of your head, followed by the top strap. Discard the mask, and then wash your hands.
The difference lies in the testing requirements for each country of origin. P2 masks adhere to European testing requirements, KN95 to Chinese requirements and N95 masks follow US guidelines. All offer nearly the same level of protection, according to a study by respirator company 3M.