The Best Cloth Masks

Cloth masks are exceptionally useful, and the right one can even double as a stylish fashion accessory. They help to filter the air that you breathe, preventing large particles like dust from entering your lungs. Thicker, layered masks or cloth masks with filters can also help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. If you’re sick, a cloth mask acts as an extra barrier if you cough or sneeze, because the material catches droplets before they’re expelled into the air. Similarly, if you’re healthy, the right mask can keep you from inhaling airborne infectious particles. To help you find the best mask for your own needs, we’ve researched some of the best options available.

EnerPlex Three-Ply Cloth Masks

Back in black

Stay safe in style with these classic black masks.
Best Overall

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Wearing a mask should be comfortable rather than an inconvenience, and these three-ply masks help protect your lungs without becoming irritating. The outer layer is smooth polyester that won’t pill, while the middle layer is a cotton blend that helps filter the air you inhale. The inside layer is made from fine, lightweight cotton that is soft against your skin, while the stretchy ear loops help fit the mask to your face. Since they’re easy to clean and the classic black design goes with everything, these masks are ideal for everyday use.

Pros:

  • Made from a breathable cotton-blend fabric
  • Machine-washable
  • Three layers of fabric provide more protection

Cons:

  • They do not have a built-in filter pocket

Hywean Adjustable Cotton Masks with Filter (3-Pack)

Filtration system

Keep small particles at bay with these masks that fit replaceable filters.
Best With Filter

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If you’re looking for maximum protection from airborne particles, these cloth masks with included filters can’t be beaten. The high-quality polyester is soft and comfortable, and the mask has an interior pocket where you can slip in an additional filter. Besides protecting you from dust, the filter also prevents ashes, pollen, car exhaust, smoke, and other pollutants from getting into your lungs. Over time, this helps keep your lungs happy and healthy and makes it easier to breathe, especially if you live in a polluted area.

Pros:

  • Adjustable ear loops make them easy to fit to your face
  • Comes with replaceable filters that fit inside the masks
  • Variety of fun, colorful patterns

Cons:

  • Made of polyester, which holds in more heat than cotton fabric

Auriviz Sparkly Rhinestone Mesh Face Mask

Disco inferno

Shine bright like a diamond while you wear one of these rhinestone-encrusted masks.
Best For Women

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Light up the room like a disco ball with this sparkly rhinestone mask. The mesh fabric is embellished with about one thousand shiny rhinestones, which are securely embedded so that they won’t flake off as you wear the mask. Because this mask looks dressier than many fabric masks, it’s a great choice for events like parties, weddings, or just a night on the town. Although the mesh alone does not filter any particles from the air, the stretchy edge helps it to fit perfectly over disposable masks, so you can still get the full protection of a mask and look good doing it.

Pros:

  • Eye-catching rhinestones capture the light
  • Elastic edge and adjustable ear loops help create the perfect fit
  • Smooth interior doesn’t snag or irritate your skin

Cons:

  • Because the mesh fabric has very large openings, this mask is more decorative than protective

Decomen Kids Reusable Cloth Masks

Pint-sized

Smaller faces require smaller masks, and these children's versions are designed to fit perfectly.
Best For Kids

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Sometimes children need masks too, but masks designed for adults are typically much too large to fit. This set includes four reusable cloth masks that are shaped to fit young ones without leaving any gaps around the face. The fabric offers 99.9% UV protection, while the aero-cool fabric helps keep your child from sweating and overheating, even if they’re running around outside. And because the fabric and elastic ear loops are soft, they won’t cause irritation to your child’s sensitive skin. As a bonus, the bright, colorful designs make the masks fun to wear for kids of all ages.

Pros:

  • UV protection helps prevent sun damage
  • Shaped to fit small faces
  • Soft elastic bands are comfortable to wear

Cons:

  • There is no metal nose clip, so the fit around the nose can’t be adjusted

Madholly Black Cotton Face Masks (8-Pack)

Take a hike

Exercise to your heart's content while wearing these comfortable, breathable masks.
Best For Sports

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Because you breathe deeply when you exercise, wearing a mask for outdoor workouts is an effective way to keep from inhaling irritants like dirt and pollution. These masks are made from a breathable fabric that won’t heat up your face, and the nose bridge wire helps keep the mask close to your face. This is especially great for folks who wear glasses because it closes the gaps that allow your breath to fog up your lenses.

Pros:

  • Breathable cotton fabric wicks away moisture
  • Adjustable nose wire helps create the perfect fit
  • Lined with white cotton that’s soft on the skin

Cons:

  • These masks may be too large for people with smaller faces

Frequently Asked Questions

What material is best for masks?

This depends on how much protection you’re looking for. The more tightly woven the fabric or the more layers a mask has, the better it filters out foreign matter. Cotton is breathable and comfortable, while polyester is stretchy, which helps it fit your face better. Open mesh is lightweight, but it is decorative and does not filter out dust or bacteria.

How should I care for my cloth masks?

Cleaning masks between wearing them is very important because they can harbor bacteria that may make you sick or can cause acne where the mask touches your skin. Unless a cloth mask is decorated with rhinestones or embroidery or the label says otherwise, it should be machine-washable. Simply wash the mask on the cold setting with mild detergent, and hang it dry to preserve its shape and extend its lifespan.