N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask – ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!

With increasing options and availability in the market, it is quite usual to be confused between N95 Mask vs SURGICAL Mask vs CLOTH Mask. And also, are these mask with valves are effective in preventing spread of corona virus?!
Let’s check out what various scientific research studies and famous organisations have to say about N95, Surgical and cloth MASKS.
N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!
No matter what type of mask you wear,
if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s useless

Purpose of mask

We humans tend to release droplets into air not just when we cough or sneez, but also when we speak or even when we breathe heavily. These droplets contains our saliva along with bacterias and viruses. 
Remember, that corona virus spreads in form of droplets. These droplets remain suspended in air for quite some time. 

The purpose of mask is to prevent these droplets from getting into the air and surrounding. 
They also prevent bacterias and viruses suspended in the air from entering our nose or mouth.

Hence, masks protect not just the person wearing them but also others (an infected person may not always be symptomatic)

N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!
refrain from touching the outer surface of mask!
Certain points should always be kept in mind while wearing a mask for best safety-


The N95 is the most recognizable and effective mask. Its name means it can block at least 95% of tiny particles – 0.3 microns. This filtration capacity is enough to filter out 95-99% of viruses (viruses are smaller in size as compared to baterias) present in the outdoor environment. Further N95 masks provide a better fitting as compared to the loose fit surgical masks.
N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!
Eventhough, N95 provide the best protection , when it comes to COVID-19 VIRUS, even a surgical or cloth mask can provide enough protection if worn properly. Details 👇


Surgical masks masks have been used my medical personals since lon time. These are a cheaper alternative for N95 but are less effective than N95 masks. These may filter 60%-80% of small particles under laboratory conditions. These provide good protection from normal dust, pollution and contact with accidental chemicals. They also provide protection from bacteria and some big viruses. 

They are enough to provide protection from big viruses like covid-19. But they have loose fitting and also some don’t use them in proper fittings which tends to fail them as a protective measure.

Some believe combining 2 or more surgical masks give equal protection as a N95 mask, but a data published by a team of scientists(check from ‘source’ below) showed no combination of multiple surgical masks meet the efficacy of a N95 mask.


Cloth masks provide a very safe and cheap alternative for protection provided by surgical masks. The best part about cloth masks is that they can be home made and come with variety of designs and colours. Plus they are easy to make and hence can be used to cope up with the difference in mask demand and supply in the market.

N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!

But for a cloth mask to be effective to protect you against dust and pollution plus from bacteria nad viruses, there are certain points to be kept in mind about the materials used in mask- https://www.medicalmythbuster.info/2020/08/are-cloth-masks-effective.html

The density of thread used in the cloth, number of cloth layers play an important role in their efficacy of filteration.


N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!

You might have come across masks containing small valves/respirators on masks. These are sold by shopkeepers boosting that these are more breathable than the masks not conatining these valves.

According to recent reports, the valves on these masks, push the virus, excreted by an infected individual, out through the valve; thereby making other people around at risk. Hence they fail in the purpose of mask of protecting one and all. 

Recently the Government of India issued notice against use of masks containing VALVES

Even CDC (Centre for disease control) does not recommend use of masks or cloth masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent. 


  • Generally speaking, N95 masks provide the best protection
  • SURGICAL masks and CLOTH masks are a good alternative to N95.
  • CLOTH mask should be of atleast 3 layers
  • Masks with VALVES should never be used!! even if you think you don’t have corona, because your may be asymptomatic!!

In short to generalize – 

N95 mask vs SURGICAL mask vs CLOTH mask vs Valve Mask - ALL EXPLAINED !!!!!

These are the types of masks commonly used and trending in the market but always remember that- 

N95 MASKS(without valves) provides the best protection of all

For more information related to Masks, check out-
That’s all for this topic !!
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  1. https://www.newmarkettoday.ca/coronavirus-covid-19-local-news/double-up-when-wearing-cloth-face-masks-public-health-advises-2344353
  2. Protecting healthcare staff from severe acute respiratory syndrome: filtration capacity of multiple surgical masks by J.L. Derrick and C.D. Gomersall DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2004.10.013
  3. https://neurosciencenews.com/coronavirus-mask-material-16333/
  4. https://bestlifeonline.com/best-mask-materials/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=msn-feed
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html
  6. Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech by ProfileEmma P. Fischer and others DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.a bd3083
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html
  8. https://m.economictimes.com/industry/miscellaneous/why-the-government-wants-you-to-stop-wearing-a-valved-n95-mask/n95-masks/slideshow/77164702.cms
  9. CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html
  10. COVID-19 pandemic and personal protective equipment shortage: protective efficacy comparing masks and scientific methods for respirator REUSE
    by Ivo Boškoski et al. Gastrointest Endosc. 2020 Sep.

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