While vaccination rates are increasing, so is the infection rate for the highly contagious Delta variant. Understandably, the CDC is still recommending masks in places of high transmission or low vaccination rates.
While cloth masks are the most sustainable option for the planet, disposable face masks also have a time and place for use. To protect their employees, many airlines are now requiring N95 or similar masks over fabric masks, and sometimes you just need a backup mask in your bag.
While we recommend our sustainable Fiber Knit Sport masks for reusable use, many great disposable alternatives are available for situations where a reusable cloth mask isn’t feasible.
What to Look for in a Disposable Face Mask
At the start of the pandemic, people weren’t sure what made a good face mask, so there was a lot of panic buying, which contributed to high numbers of counterfeit masks on the market.
Fortunately, the CDC now recommends that you look for disposable masks with the following labels:
- ASTM F3502
- Workplace Performance
- Workplace Performance Plus
- Multiple layers of nonwoven materials
Just like a high-tech Fiber Knit Sport mask, a disposable mask needs to cover your face and nose securely, but most disposable masks don’t offer much flexibility in terms of size, so you may need to tie knots or twist the ear loops to make them fit.
If you aren’t sure, and you have the chance to test a mask before you buy a bunch of them, you can do a light test or a candle test. Hold the mask up to the light to see how much light passes through. You are looking for the light to be muted. For the candle test, put the mask on securely and try to blow out a candle. If you can blow it out, the mask probably won’t stop the transmission of COVID-19 particles.
The Best Disposable Face Masks for Adults
Though a reusable mask from Fiber Knit Sport is more environmentally friendly, it doesn't hurt to have a disposable mask on hand in some situations. To help narrow down your search for the best disposable face masks, consider these products from various reputable brands specializing in creating disposable masks for one-time use.
- 1836 N95 Particulate Respirator by United States Mask
In the United States, the N95 Particle Respirator is the cream of the crop due to its 5-layer design, proven to filter out 95% of air particulates. If you are flying, these are the masks you want in your carry-on.
If you wish to purchase an N95 particulate respirator, be wary of buying them from anywhere other than directly from the manufacturer, as the demand for these masks has led to an increase in counterfeit products.
- Evolvetogether Amazonia Face Masks
This surgical-type disposable mask is as effective as all the other surgical-style masks on the market, but Evolvetogether strives to make them as sustainably made as possible. While the masks themselves aren’t biodegradable, the company donates masks, gives the proceeds of some of their masks to reforestation initiatives worldwide, and ships their masks in biodegradable packaging.
If you are looking for a comfortable face mask that’s disposable, this is the one for you. Made from medical-grade material in a PPE factory registered with the FDA, the inside of the mask is softer than other similar styles. They also pass the light and candle tests.
- WeCare Disposable Face Masks
Their individual wrappers make this disposable face mask from WeCare unique. Like most other surgical-style masks, the mask consists of three layers with an adjustable wire across the nose. However, since each is individually wrapped, you can easily toss it in a backpack or purse without fear of contamination or rips.
The Best Disposable Face Masks for Kids
Tiny faces need tiny comfortable face masks that maintain the technical features of a Fiber Knit Sport mask, for your little ones’ safety. Check out these great options for your kids, whether they’re at school or running around the neighborhood.
- Green Supply KN95 Masks
KN95 masks are the Chinese version of the N95 mask, and these masks from Green Supply come in a wide variety of colors and they are sized to fit children ages five and up. They come with ultra-soft ear bands for optimal comfort and internal nose wires to allow you to better adjust the mask to fit your child’s face.
The masks are made from 40% non-woven fabric, 30% melt-blown fabric, and
30% hot air cotton. They feature five layers of protection that filter out 95% of particulates, so you can trust your child is safe at school wearing one of these!
- Evolvetogether Amazonia Kids Face Masks
As with adult disposable masks, you can’t go wrong with an FDA-approved and sustainable company like Evolvetogether, especially when they offer kids sizes, which can be hard to find. These masks are just like their surgical-style masks for adults, with two added benefits: they are sized specifically for kids aged 3-10, and they come with a sheet of nontoxic decals to make mask wearing more appealing to your child.
The multi-layer protection offers superior filtrations keeping out up to 95% of allergens, bacteria, and pollutants. The 3-ply hypoallergenic, latex-free construction features a water-resistant exterior, a meltblown filter, and a moisture-absorbing interior.
- Dr. Talbot’s Disposable Face Masks
Dr. Talbot’s is a well-respected children’s brand, and they offer disposable masks for kids that don’t block breathability but help block pollen to reduce allergies. The masks are designed for children aged 2-5, 6-12, or 13+, making them one of the most size-inclusive brands for kids.
Though it doesn’t provide the 3-D filter support of a Fiber Knit Sport mask, it has three layers for enhanced protection, soft ear loops and a bendable nose clip.
Reusable Masks Are the Best Option for Our Planet
While disposable masks are great for certain situations, millions of them fill our landfills with plastics that aren’t biodegradable. Whenever possible, we encourage people to use a reusable cloth mask that can be washed and worn more than once, especially when they need sports face protection.
Once a disposable mask is wet, it can’t be used again, making them poor options for athletes. Our Fiber Knit Sport masks are durable, comfortable, and breathable, whether you’re at the store or running a marathon.