There are many steps you can take to help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. One of these is wearing a mask.

When it comes to masks, there are a bunch of different options for you to choose from. They may include:

  • Cloth masks
  • surgical mask
  • Mask KN95

Lately, you may have heard of something called a double mask. Simply put, this is when you wear two masks instead of one.

Should you do a double mask? And if so, how can you do it safely? Continue reading to find out.

Double masking is when you put one layer of mask on top of another. This can have two advantages.

More suitable

Many masks do not completely fit your face. In fact, you may notice that you feel the air come out through the edges of the mask as you inhale and exhale.

This imperfect seal could not only allow respiratory droplets containing the virus to escape your mask, but it could also allow them to enter. Double-masking can help better prevent this from happening.

When you wear two masks, the outer mask may gently press against the edges of the inner mask. When this happens, the inner mask will be closer to your skin and create a better sealing.

Increase filter

SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets produced when someone has the virus:

The material in the mask filters respiratory droplets containing the virus before you can breathe them in.

The layers of the mask increase its filtering capacity. In fact Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) It is recommended to use a mask with at least two or three layers of fabric.

Adding a second mask can improve the filtering even more. This is because it effectively doubles the layers of material that virus-laden respiratory droplets must travel through before reaching your face and mouth.

Now that we’ve discussed dual masking and its potential benefits, you may be wondering how you can safely and effectively wear two masks. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Use the right mask combination. NS CDC It is recommended that you put the cloth mask on the surgical mask.
  • Avoid other mask combinations. Some mask combinations may not improve the fit or may make it difficult to breathe. Therefore, avoid combinations of the following:
    • two surgical masks
    • KN95 and any other mask
    • N95 and any other mask
  • Test at home first. Try on your two masks at home before using it in public. Check out things like:
    • Fit. Make sure that the outer mask helps squeeze the inner mask close to your face, forming an airtight seal. To do this, place your hand over your mask and feel the air coming out of the edges as you breathe.
    • Breath. While breathing may require a little extra effort when you’re wearing a double mask, it shouldn’t make breathing difficult.
    • Sight. Make sure the double mask does not block your view.
  • Assess situation. If you can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others outside of your household, a mask can provide good protection. However, double-masking can be beneficial when you:

Dual mask recommendations based on findings of a CDC Research. This study looks at ways to improve mask fit to reduce exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

In the study above, coughing and breathing were simulated using a device that generates aerosol particles that the researchers can quantify once the experiment is complete.


In the cough simulation above, the researchers evaluated the effectiveness of:

  • cloth mask alone
  • surgical mask alone
  • surgical mask cloth mask (double mask)

The researchers found that when a cough was simulated, the dual masks blocked 85.4% of aerosol particles. This figure is 51.4% and 56.1% for cloth masks and surgical masks, respectively.

Simulate breathing

Breath simulations have examined a number of situations using two head models. One of the models generates aerosol particles (source) while the other is exposed to them (recipients).

The researchers found that:

  • When the source was wearing a double mask and the receiver was not, the aerosol exposure of the unmasked recipient was reduced by 82.2%.
  • When the recipient was wearing a double mask and the source was not the source, aerosol exposure of the double masked recipient was reduced by 83%.
  • When both source and receiver were wearing double masks, aerosol exposure was reduced by 96.4%.

In recent months, several variants of the new coronavirus have emerged around the world. Some of these variants can spread more easily between individuals.

One variant you may have heard of is B.1.1.7, the “UK variant”. Public health officials in the United Kingdom have reported that B.1.1.7 is about 50% more transmissible.

In addition, according to a Research Review 2021, another variant was recently identified in California during a rise in COVID-19 cases. American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that in unpublished research, the laboratory that identified this variant is reporting that, like B.1.1.7, it also appears to be more contagious.

The proliferation of multiple transmission variants means that adopting good precautions is even more important than ever. Given its effectiveness, double masks could be an important tool in stopping the spread of these variants.

In addition to double masking, you can apply other ways to improve the effectiveness of masking.

Prioritize classes

Multilayers work to better shield your face from respiratory droplets that can contain viruses. When choosing a cloth mask, choose one with at least two or three layers of fabric.

Add a filter to your cloth mask

Some cloth masks have built-in pockets where you can place filter material, such as a coffee filter or a vacuum filter. You can also learn how to make a cloth mask with a filter bag here.

Choose a mask with a nose string

Find the mask with the string strip on top. This cord can be bent to allow the mask to fit closer to your nose. Using a mask with a wire over your nose can also prevent your glasses from fogging up, which can interfere with your vision.

Try the knotting and fastening method

This method can be used to improve the fit of surgical masks. It involves knotting the ear lobes close to where they connect to the mask and carefully removing any excess material. NS CDC There are instructions on how to do this.

Use mask brace

The mask brace is a device made of elastic material. It fits over a cloth or surgical mask to help prevent air from escaping from the top and sides of the mask. You can even make a simple mask brace with three rubber bands.

In addition to wearing a mask, it is important to take additional steps to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. These include things like:

  • Washing hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after being in public or after coughing or sneezing. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Practice away from the body. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from people outside your household.
  • Avoid certain areas. Try to avoid areas that are crowded or have minimal ventilation.
  • Antiseptic. Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, countertops, and light switches. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists disinfectants as effective against the new coronavirus.
  • Being checked. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to get tested and isolate at home while you wait for the results.

Double masking is when you put one mask on top of another. It helps to improve the fit and filterability of your mask.

A CDC study found that double-masking was very effective in preventing exposure to aerosols caused by coughing and breathing.

If you want to try double masking, wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask. Avoid any other mask combinations.

You should also try on the double mask at home first to make sure it fits properly and your breathing and vision are not affected.

In addition to wearing a mask, it’s also important to practice other prevention methods, such as hand washing and physical distancing. This is particularly important due to the emergence of more transmissible viral variants.


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