Choosing a Mask or Respirator for Different Situations

Considering the ongoing threat of new Covid variants, it's more important than ever to protect yourself and all around by wearing and offering the safest masks available.

Masks and respirators (i.e., specialized filtering masks such as “N95s”) can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.

Whatever product you choose, it should provide a good fit (i.e., fitting closely on the face without any gaps along the edges or around the nose) and be comfortable enough when worn properly (covering your nose and mouth) so that you can keep it on when you need to. Learn how to improve how well your mask protects you by visiting CDC’s Improve How Your Mask Protects You page.

A respirator has better filtration, and if worn properly the whole time it is in use, can provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask. A mask or respirator will be less effective if it fits poorly or if you wear it improperly or take it off frequently. A respirator may be considered in certain situations and by certain people when greater protection is needed or desired.

  • When caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19.

  • If you are at increased risk for severe illness, for example, people who are immunocompromised, older adults, and people with certain underlying medical conditions.

  • When working at a job where you interact with large numbers of the public, especially when not everyone is consistently wearing a mask. For example, bus drivers and grocery store workers.

  • When riding on planes, buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation*, especially if it is for a long period of time on crowded conveyances.

  • When physical distancing is not possible or when you are in crowded indoor or outdoor public settings.

  • If you are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.

*Note: The options listed on this page may be used to fulfill the requirements of CDC’s Mask Order for public transportation. Learn more about attributes of masks needed to fulfill the requirements of the Order at this website.


When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of mask and when a mask is worn with facial hair.

It is important to check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin.

  • Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.

  • Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.

  • If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.

We offer 3ply, KN95 and N95 masks and all at great prices.

Take a look at to see our product selections. If you have a very large order, we can offer flexible pricing. Contact us at for additional information.

The source of this information is from the CDC website.

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