Best Cloth Face Masks

Updated April 2021
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

52 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
64 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cloth face masks

When you’re trying to stay healthy — and keep those around you healthy, too — covering your nose and mouth is crucial. By keeping the droplets from sneezes and coughs from traveling farther, you can limit the spread of germs. A cloth face mask is probably the most convenient and comfortable covering you can find for everyday wear.

A cloth face mask is effective at containing the small droplets from your mouth and nose when you’re talking, coughing, or sneezing and prevents you from passing germs onto others. However, a cloth mask also offers some protection against larger droplets that come from those around you. The masks are made from various fabrics, which means you can choose a material that feels comfortable and breathable. Cloth face masks are usually adjustable, too, so you can get the right fit to keep those germs contained.

But with so many cloth face masks to pick from, choosing the right option can be a challenge. Our buying guide provides all the tips you need to find the best cloth face masks for your entire family. If you’re still unsure, we’ve included some specific mask recommendations, too.

Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.
Even when you’re wearing a cloth face mask, you should still stay 6 feet away from others to prevent the spread of germs.

Key considerations

Material

Cloth face masks are available in a wide range of materials. The tighter the fabric’s weave, the more protection it provides. However, a mask should also be breathable, so you feel comfortable when wearing it. 

Cotton is the most popular option for a cloth face mask because it’s breathable but can still be fairly thick and dense to block droplets. You can often tell how protective a cotton face mask is by its thread count, the higher the thread count, the less porous the fabric is and the more protective.

Silk is another common material for cloth face masks because it’s good at repelling water, which helps prevent droplets from penetrating the mask.

Other masks are made of flannel, nylon, polyester, or a cotton-spandex blend. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid masks made of very stretchy fabrics because they can be too porous.

Layers and filters

Even the right mask material may not be as protective as you’d like if the mask doesn’t have enough layers. The more layers, the better the mask can contain droplets. For effective protection, a mask should have at least two layers, but the World Health Organization recommends three.

Some cloth face masks also have an additional filter layer between the fabric layers to help block any droplets or particles that make their way through the fabric. Some masks come with a filter, but you can also purchase filters separately or use a coffee filter, an unused vacuum cleaner bag, or paper towel as a filter in a pinch.

Fit

In order to offer adequate protection, a cloth face mask must fit properly. It must fully cover both your nose and mouth, extend past your mouth by at least an inch, and hook under your chin to keep it secure. It should be close-fitting but not so tight that it affects your breathing. Make sure that there aren't any gaps along the sides of your face, too.

Features

Fasteners

To stay securely on your face, a cloth mask must have some way to stay on your head. The majority of masks have either loops that go over the ears or ties that fasten behind the head.

Loops are probably the most common option because they allow you to easily put the mask on and take it off. However, some people find that the loops pull on their ears a bit. Some loops are made of elastic material and so are more comfortable and offer a better fit.

Tie closures can also work well and provide a good fit, though they’re more difficult to fasten, especially if you’re in a hurry.

Metal strip

Some cloth masks have a flexible metal strip in the top edge. This enables you to shape the mask to conform to the top of your nose, which prevents the mask from slipping and keeps any errant droplets from escaping. This can be an extremely important feature if you wear glasses because it helps keep your lenses from fogging up.

Filter pocket

Some cloth face masks have a built-in pocket to hold a filter between the fabric layers. A filter offers an extra layer of protection to keep droplets from escaping, so it’s a good idea to choose a mask that allows you to add one. It’s an especially handy feature if you choose a mask that only has two layers.

Quantity

Some masks are sold individually, but you can find many that come in multipacks of anywhere from two to ten. Since you’ll likely want to wear a mask every time you’re out in public, and the masks require washing between uses, you’ll definitely need more than one. Larger multipacks typically provide the best value for keeping the whole family protected.

Color/pattern

While the color or design of a mask doesn’t affect its performance, choosing a pattern or color scheme you love can make it more fun to wear. Black and white are probably the most common colors for cloth face masks, but you can find options in nearly any color in the rainbow.

You’ll also find plenty of patterned masks with polka dots, stripes, flowers, stars, hearts, and more. Some masks even offer designs that celebrate your favorite sports teams, movies, TV shows, or cartoon characters, too.

"Children under the age of two or individuals who have difficulty breathing shouldn’t wear a cloth face mask. "
STAFF
BestReviews

Accessories

Hand sanitizer: Babyganics Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer
In addition to wearing a face mask in public, you’ll want to keep your hands free of germs. If you can’t wash your hands, keep some hand sanitizer with you. We love this one from Babyganics because it’s alcohol-free and safe for even sensitive skin.

Cloth face mask prices

Cloth face masks vary in price based on the material, number of layers, design, and other features. Most masks cost between $1 and $16 each.

Inexpensive: The most affordable cloth face masks have a single layer of cotton, nylon, or polyester. They typically don’t have any special features like a pocket for a filter and come only in solid colors. You’ll pay $1 to $3 each for these face masks.

Mid-range: These cloth face masks usually have at least two layers. Most are made of cotton, nylon, polyester, silk, flannel, or a cotton-spandex blend. Many masks in this price range have a pocket for a filter, and some also have a bendable metal nose strip for a better fit. They’re often available in both solid colors and fun patterns and generally cost between $3 and $10 each.

Expensive: The most expensive cloth face masks have three layers or more. Many have a pocket for a filter, and some include the filter. Many also have a bendable metal nose strip and are available in solid colors, patterns, and even some sports logo and pop culture-licensed designs. These masks cost between $10 and $16 each.

Tips

  • Wear your mask. To prevent the spread of germs, you should wear a face mask in any public locations where social distancing isn’t possible, including grocery stores, other retail stores, pharmacies, and on public transportation. 
  • Wash your mask. Cloth face masks are reusable, but you should wash yours after each use to kill any germs that might be on the mask.
  • Wash your hands. Do this before touching or putting on your cloth face mask and after you take it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth until you’ve washed your hands.
  • Don’t touch your mask while you’re wearing it. This helps keep it from getting contaminated and prevents you from contaminating your hands with any germs that might be on the mask.
Medical N95 masks and disposable surgical masks should be reserved for use by medical personnel.

FAQ

Q. How should I wash my cloth face masks?
A.
You can toss your cloth face masks in the washer with the rest of your laundry. Use any regular detergent and the warmest setting that the fabric can withstand. Most masks can be dried in a dryer on high heat, though you can also lay them flat to air-dry.
 

Q. How many cloth face masks should I have?
A.
You should probably have at least two. That way, when one is in the wash, you have another to wear when you go out. However, if you’re very busy, you may not do laundry every day, so you might want to invest in additional masks to make sure you always have a clean one available.

Q. How should I store my cloth face masks?
A.
Find a cool, dry spot for your cloth face masks where they won’t develop any mildew. Make sure to fold your masks, too, so the interior isn’t exposed to any contaminants.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
Our Top Picks