What's better than wearing one face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? Two face masks, according to White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. When speaking to TODAY about double-masking in the face of new coronavirus strains, he said, "It just makes common sense that it would be more effective."
Dr. Fauci's advice is in line with a December 2020 commentary published in Med journal. For maximum protection, authors Monica Gandhi and Linsey C. Marr endorse either a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask or a three-layer mask with a flexible, tightly woven outer fabric and a middle layer featuring a vacuum bag-like material that acts as a non-woven, high-efficiency filter.
For basic protection, Marr and Gandhi advocate for a high-quality surgical mask or a fabric mask with a high thread count and at least two layers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s current mask guidelines advise that you choose a mask with "two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric." The CDC also suggests that you "use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric" or "wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask."
Avoid masks made of a fabric (like vinyl) that makes it hard to breathe or masks that have exhalation valves or vents that might let virus particles out. A CDC report found that "the combination of the cloth mask covering the medical procedure mask (double mask) blocked 92.5% of the cough particles" but also points out that "double masking might impede breathing or obstruct peripheral vision for some wearers."
If you're in a position where you feel like you need maximum protection and would like to double-mask, you must first ensure that you can breathe through two masks. When speaking with Elemental, Marr explained, "Too many layers that make it hard to breathe through the mask could mean that you take in more air through gaps, and that air wouldn't get filtered." If this is a concern for you, a single mask with at least two layers might be your best bet.
Below, we're including some recommendations for both adult and kid face masks with two or more layers.
Honeywell's Dual-Layer Face Cover is made of nylon, polyester, and spandex, and comes with eight inserts for extra protection. Though the inserts are meant to be replaced on a daily basis, the mask is washable.
Each mask in this five-pack features three layers: two inner layers of cotton and a lightweight outer layer. The masks can also be washed in a machine and then laid out on a flat, clean surface to dry.
These 100% cotton reusable face masks are double-layered and also machine washable.
If you're an athlete, this mask was designed for you. In addition to being fully washable, there are three layers: a spacer fabric that keeps the mask off your mouth and nose, a breathable middle layer, and an antimicrobial inner layer that feels cool against the skin.
Featuring four layers, this mask is available in both adult and kids sizes. It can also be hand-washed with soap and water, rinsed, and then laid out to dry.
This 100% cotton mask comes with a pocket for a filter. It can also be hand-washed and then laid flat to dry. Every Wake Up & Fight Mask that's purchased also contributes to Hedley & Bennett's donation of masks to essential workers and first responders.
These double-layer masks are machine washable, have a pocket for a filter, and are made from 100% organic quilter's cotton (which has a high thread count that provides strong filtration, according to the product description).
This is another double-layer mask that can become triple-layered with the included 5-layered PM2.5 activated carbon filter. It can be hand-washed (without the filter, which should be replaced after seven days) and hung to dry. Vida is also donating profits to help get masks for "essential workers, first responders, veterans, single mothers struggling to make ends meet, and organizations serving victims of domestic violence and abuse."
If you're looking for a cute dual-layer, washable mask for kids, this Crayola one is the ticket. It's also available on Amazon Prime. Note: The CDC does not recommend face masks for children younger than two years old.
This washable kids mask is made of triple-layer cotton with a pocket for filter inserts. Gap recommends that it be used on kids who are at least four years old.
Anna is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle and design content for Hunker. She's written for Apartment Therapy, the L.A. Times, Forge, and more. She previously worked as the lifestyle editor at HelloGiggles and deputy editor at So Yummy. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org