Review of Cloth Masks and KN95 Masks for Kids and Adults With Coupons

Review and comparison of the best face masks for kids and adults
Left to right: Enro mask; MASKC KN95 and disposable face masks; Happy Mask

Over the past year, my family has tried dozens of face masks, and we’ve been lucky to find comfortable, high-filtration KN95 masks for kids and adults. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worn face masks in our daily routine, such as going to school, work, grocery stores, sports, and doctor’s appointments.

My husband and I are both physicians; while he sees patients at the hospital, my work centers around online education. As such, safety for our community and yours is top priority.

Since everyone has a different face, trying various masks might be necessary to ensure proper fit. To help you find the best masks for your family, I’ll share our review and comparison of cloth masks, disposable masks and KN95 masks. The end of the post also has suggestions for face shields.

For context, my husband and I have also received 2 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, but our children are too young to be eligible at this time. So far, none of us have contracted Covid-19, and we credit masks for providing additional protection for our family.

This post was originally published on July 1, 2020 (Facebook share here) and has since been updated with new information.

Related: How to Encourage Kids To Wear Masks and Protect the Community

Review and comparison of cloth masks and N95 masks for kids and adults

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general educational purposes only. Please see a local, board-certified physician for personal medical advice.

This post may have some affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission which supports my blog and free printables at no additional cost to you. Please see the disclosure policy for details.

What age can kids wear face masks?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over age 2 years can wear face masks. Babies and toddlers under age 2 years should not wear masks due to the risks of suffocation, strangulation, and choking. Per the CDC, face coverings should also be avoided in persons who have trouble breathing or those who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Which mask is most protective against infection?

N95 respirator masks are the most effective, because they must be professionally tested for proper fit. However, N95 respirators are often in short supply and should generally be reserved for front-line health care workers.

KN95s are thought to be the next most effective followed by surgical masks, but note that many counterfeit products are also being sold on the Internet.

While the typical cloth mask is generally less effective than other options, technology has introduced reusable cloth masks with high bacterial and viral filtration. I’ll share examples of comfortable cloth masks that are comparable to KN95 masks and superior to surgical masks.

Which kind of mask is best for my kids and family?

face mask tips for kids - good fit versus poor fit with loose gaps around nose and cheeks
Left: Universal Mask; Right: random disposable mask

In my opinion, the ideal mask should meet the following criteria:

  • Consist of multiple layers of material that covers the nose (including bridge), mouth, chin, and sides of face
  • Have a nose wire and adjustable ear straps for a snug but comfortable fit
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Provide the highest amount of bacterial and viral filtration possible (company should disclose 3rd party test results)

Fit is extremely important for efficacy. According to ACS publications, “gaps (as caused by an improper fit of the mask) can result in over a 60% decrease in the filtration efficiency.” For example, a KN95 mask is not necessarily better than a cloth mask if the fit is poor or if worn incorrectly. Each time I go to the grocery store, I cringe seeing all of the people who are wearing N95 and surgical masks the wrong way! What a waste.

If you wear glasses, a good nose wire can close gaps across your cheeks and prevent your lenses from fogging up. Also, a nose wire should prevent the mask from slipping down your face.

Do’s and don’ts for wearing a mask

  • Do wash hands before and after wearing mask.
  • Don’t touch the front of the mask.
  • Do remove the mask by the straps after hands are washed and you’re safe at home.
  • Don’t take off your mask to talk to people. This completely defeats the purpose of wearing a mask.
  • Do practice with your child many times at home before going out.
  • Don’t wear a mask with valves. Valved masks were created for pollution and not infection prevention, because valves allow potentially infected air particles to be exhaled out the mask.

The New York Times has a great visual examples explaining how to avoid common mistakes with mask wearing.

How many masks do I need?

Everybody’s face shape is different, so I recommend starting with 1 or 2 of each brand to see which one is most comfortable. The ideal number of masks to buy also depends on how frequently you are able to do laundry or if you’re using disposable masks.

Also, all types of mask should be changed frequently. For example, masks should be replaced when they are wet (eg, drool, sneezes, sweat), visibly soiled, or every few hours.

For each day that your family plans on going outside, I suggest having a few masks ready per person. For my daughter who attended school in person last yaer, she brought:

  • A mask for the morning
  • Another mask for the afternoon after lunch
  • A lanyard to prevent the mask from falling or getting lost
  • Extra masks in her backpack as backup

How to store and organize cloth masks

How to store and organize cloth masks
Hanger rack to organize masks

Click here for tips on organizing masks at home, school, and travel plus free printable labels.

Kids' Mask Organization with Bilingual Labels (English, Chinese, Pinyin, Zhuyin)
Stasher silicone bags with free printable bilingual labels

Comparison and review of the best cloth and KN95 masks for kids and adults (coupon codes)

Since inventory is constantly fluctuating, I’ve listed our favorites at the top followed by a few back up options. For reference, my children are currently 4 and 7 years old (they were 3 and 6 when I first published this post).

The best reusable cloth masks with high filtration for kids and adults

Happy Masks review and comparison of the best face masks for kids
My children wearing Happy Masks at age 7 years (left) and 3 years (right)

Happy Masks

Happy Masks is a Taiwanese-American company has masks for adults and kids with a reusable nanofiber membrane. It’s by far the most popular mask in our family and also among physician friends.

I wear a size medium while my kids wear a size small, but unfortunately these masks don’t fit my husband. Otherwise, Happy Masks have been a favorite, because they:

  • Claim >99% filtration efficacy and have been independently tested by NYTimes Wirecutter to filter out ~94% of the smallest (0.5 micron) particles tested.
  • Have 5 layers of protection
  • Are extremely light and comfortable with adjustable ear loops.
  • Do not muffle sound as much as other masks.
  • Allow my kids to run, play tennis, and climb playgrounds with no trouble breathing.
  • Have a structured beak-shaped fabric keeps it’s shape and doesn’t bump into our lips.
  • Kept my daughter safe during the last school year. Both of my children will be wearing these in the upcoming school year as well.

Note that the masks must be hand-washed and air-dried. Please see the Happy Mask website for instructions and duration of efficacy. We use an excel sheet, and a mom shared with me that she marks the straps to keep track of use.

Happy Mask also sells lanyards and silicone mask cases which are sturdy and give peace of mind for not losing the masks at school.

Use coupon code CHALK for free standard shipping with Happy Masks! Promo code is valid for 1 order.

Review of Enro high filtration washable cloth face masks for kids
My children wearing Enro masks (ages 4 and 7 years old)

Enro

Enro’s reusable cloth masks came highly recommend by many physician friends, because they:

  • Claim to have >95% viral and bacterial filtration efficiency.
  • Have been independently tested by NYTimes Wirecutter to filter ~99% of the smallest (0.5 micron) particles.
  • Are extremely light and comfortable with adjustable ear loops.
  • Allow my kids to run, play tennis, and climb playgrounds with no trouble breathing.
  • Machine washable and driable
  • Comes in 5 different sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL

Compared to Happy Masks, these masks are a little bit closer to our lips, but they don’t pucker in the mouth at all. Enro also sells sturdy lanyards which give peace of mind for not losing the masks at school.

Use coupon code CHALK15 for 15% off your order with Enro! Promo code cannot be combined with other offers.

The best disposable KN95 and surgical masks for kids and adults

A disposable mask is convenient to throw away after a potentially high-risk exposure, such as the airport or a doctor’s appointment. If your child tends to lose masks at school, disposable masks might make more sense compared to expensive cloth masks.

MASKC Disposable Face Mask for Kids and KN95 Mask for Adults
MASKC KN95 mask for adults and 3- ply disposable face mask for kids (coupon chalkacademy for 20% off)

MASKC – KN95 and 3-layer surgical masks

These disposable surgical masks are so well made and don’t rip like other masks. These surgical masks fit our entire family, including my husband, very well! While they are a bit long on my 4-year-old son, he doesn’t mind that it covers the bottom of his chin.

The MASKC KN95 mask is only available in adult sizes. This brand is very popular among my friends who work in healthcare and schools, and it could be a great option for tweens and teens. I recently wore this when I took my child to the emergency department and luckily did not catch any germs. Unfortunately, the ear loops are too tight for my face, so I’ve given the rest away to a friend with a narrower face.

Use coupon code chalkacademy for 20% off your order with MASKC!

Lutema – M95c masks

M95c masks are comparable to KN95 masks; the difference is that M95c masks are made in the USA while KN95 masks are made in China. The kid version of these masks fit my 7-year-old daughter well, but they are too large for my 4-year-old son.

Perfetta 4-layer surgical masks

These comfortable surgical masks are very comfortable, smooth, and well made. They fit my husband perfectly but are too loose for my face. Since they are a bit larger, they are great for layering over another mask in high-risk situations, such as going to a doctor’s appointment.

Review of other popular cloth masks for kids and adults

If the aformentioned face masks are out of stock, here are cloth mask options to consider for back up.

  • Universal Mask: Because these washable masks fit so perfectly on my kids, they wore them so often over the last year. The downside is that there is no pocket for adding a filter.
  • Vistaprint: So many friends recommended this brand for their variety of kid and adult sizes, adjustable ear loops, pockets for filters, and nose wires. Unfortunately, these masks did not work at all for us, because they stuck to our mouth when talking.
  • Jaanuu: This popular medical clothing company sells adult and kids masks. I’ve heard from other doctors that their ear loops are soft and adjustable, but the downside is the lack of a filter slot and nose bridge.

If you need replacement filters for these cloth masks, Filti has MERV 16 rated nanofiber mask filter. Use code chalkacademy15 for 15% of your order with Filti!

Vistaprint Trumask kids mask review
3-year-old trying the Vistaprint TruMask kids dinosaur mask & an eye mask for fun! This face mask fabric is too loose and sticks to his mouth. Note the indentation in the middle of the mask. Toy brontosaurus and T-rex here.

Masks that didn’t work for us

Remember: function over fashion!! We also tried Dr. Puri KF94, Figs, Under Amour, Reebok, Everhart, Elestory, Vivian Chan, HiddenBloom, Gap, Target, and other brands, but all of these masks had fit issues and/or low filtration. At this point in the pandemic, there are so many better options.

Dangerous masks to avoid

I need to reiterate this: please DO NOT buy masks with valves, because exhalation valves can push infected air from your body into the room or area that you’re in. Valved masks protect workers from dust at a construction site or people in heavily polluted cities; they were not designed for this pandemic.

What about face shields for kids and adults?

Kids wearing cloth facemasks and hat shields
Side view of hats with plastic shields attached via Velcro

Face shields protect the eyes and provide an extra barrier around the face, but they do not serve the same function as masks. According to the CDC:

Face shields are not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets. Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you and will not protect you from respiratory droplets from others.

For children

For young children who truly cannot tolerate masks, here are a few to consider:

  • Hat with flexible shield attached by Velcro – The bucket hat fits my 4-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter, and it also fit them when they were 3 and 6 years old, respectively. To be honest, my son has only worn it once outside the house when I got my haircut, but I’ve seen a lot of toddlers wearing it to preschool.
  • Face shield full cover visor glasses with frames – Although these shields were meant for adults, they fit my kids well and seem too short for (it doesn’t cover my chin). My kids prefer this shield over the flexible hat shield, and it would be a great option to have in crowded places. However, because of the hard plastic, this would not be suitable for kids who are actively running around.

For teachers and other adults

  • TCP Global Salon World Safety Face Shields with Glasses Frames – These highly-rated shields are commonly worn by health care professionals, hair stylists, and other people working in close contact with other people.
  • Rapid Response PPE offers unique reusable, lightweight, face shields with better coverage that the typical face shield. This might be a good option for teachers involved in speech therapy or with students who are deaf or hard of hearing where full view of the face is crucial for communication skills.
  • Clear Mask is a popular, FDA-cleared option for audiologists, speech and language pathologists, nannies, and other professionals who work with people with hearing loss.

Have you ordered cloth masks for your family? Or are you wearing surgical masks and KN95 masks?

What masks are the favorite in your family?

Please share your experience in the comments below!

Even though we aren’t near each other, it’s a small world and we’re all in this together!

Praying for your health and safety, friends!

22 Comments

  1. Do you feel a difference in comfort or anything else between the Base and Pro (Happy Mask)?
    I’ve bought a few clothes ones for my almost 4 and almost 6yo from Nostrom, locally made, amazon, disney. Nothing fits well or breathe well so far. Nose wire and ear loop adjustments are crucial as the ones I got didn’t.

    1. Hi Carol! I’ve been pretty disappointed and surprised by the mediocre masks from most retailers as well! We only have the pro Happy Mask, so I can’t compare it with the base version. If you end up getting both, please share your thoughts!

  2. Thank you so much for your in depth masks review!! It looks like we’re in it for the long haul and good masks with proper filtration&fit are much needed now, since there’s suggestion that the virus may be airborne. Praying for your family’s wellbeing.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this in-depth review of masks Betty – just purchased a couple from both 3MD, Happy Masks, and Filti! My family and I can’t wait to try the fit out for these. Suffice to say the ones we’ve been using have been just okay.

    Quick question – is it okay to machine wash the metal nose piece, or do you have to take those out when you put it through the washer?

    1. Never mind! They responded and said that
      The nose piece and the filter are sewn directly into the mask, so there’s no need to take anything out. The filters are made of 100% polyester and withstand washing in a washing machine well. Simply toss the whole mask in the washing machine on gentle cycle, then air dry before use again.

  4. Definitely try Halo Life masks for your husband in the XL. Our family has been very pleased with them. I imagine they are similar to the happy mask, except that the halo life nanofilter is removable so you can wash the mask itself and continue to reuse, while the filter is good for 200 hrs and then you replace into filter pocket (with their special thin nanofiber filters).

    1. I’m also ordering the happy mask (which is how I found your post!) to give those a try for my son because the pattern is definitely more kid friendly. Thanks for this, it was super informative!

  5. Thank you for your reviews. I’d like to buy the Happy Masl but don’t know what size. I’m a medium sized woman but I have a large nose and also will be getting sinus surgery soon so all my masks hurt right now. Do you think the large will be too large and leave air pockets? Thank you and stay safe .

    1. Hi Susan! Thanks for reaching out. I think it would be best to email Happy Masks to ask about the dimensions and sizing recommendations. The large is too loose on my face, but I’m not sure if it will be too large for you. Stay safe!

  6. The Enro masks have a decent fit, but they seem so thin, and even with the filter in them it seems as if you can see right through them in spots… the filter layer even appears to have holes in it… It makes me question how they can actually be that effective against covid. But you’d still recommend them? Can I ask what makes you confident that they are effective masks even though they are so thin? I’m truly curious – they almost just seem too good to be true… just want to protect my kids as well as possible in these crazy times. Thanks.
    (ps – I’ve found the halo life masks to be a good option as well. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on those)

    1. Hi! Have you reached out to Enro to ask about this concern? The Enro masks that we have don’t have this issue, but I think it’s a good question to clarify. I will keep an eye out for this in future orders from Enro and update this post with any changes. I saw that NYTimes Wirecutter independently tested Enro and found the fabric to have great filtration. Re: Halo, I’ve heard mixed reviews about their masks, some rave reviews and others meh. I did not order them, because I bought other masks with separate insertable filters and didn’t like this extra step. I’m glad that they have worked out for you though and looks like they have many options in stock compared to Happy Masks and Halo.

    2. Hi Kari,
      I purchased Enro masks for my son who just started kindergarten, after reading so many raving reviews for these masks I thought I had found the perfect one. When they arrived I was also very surprised at how thin they are, and that you can see light through them, and there appears to be small dot sized perforations all throughout the fabric.

      Like you, this caused me concern, because it just doesn’t seem protective enough? I also noticed that the filter inside is put in the center of the mask, but does not cover from edge to edge on the sides, or on the under side at the chin. I contacted Enro about this, and they said it does reach side to side? There’s a good half inch on each side of the mask that the filter doesn’t cover.

      I do like the way these masks fit my son, but I do worry about how protective they actually are?

      I’ve spent so much time researching and trying to find the most protective masks too, but don’t feel too confident about a lot of them.

      Please let me know if you find out any more info about these masks, would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  7. I just ordered Enro masks so I can’t speak on how it is. But these comments regarding the small perforations is concerning. In addition, with so many different sizes, I’m not sure what sizes to order! I ordered a S for my 11 year old…hopefully it fits.

    1. Hi Linda! Sorry for just seeing your message now.

      I emailed Enro and asked them about the concerns re: appearance of holes. This was their reply:

      “It may look like there are holes in the filter layer, but they are actually just divots in the fabric.

      The perforations on the exterior layer of the mask allow for improved breathability of the mask. It does not impact the protection provided by the mask or the filter

      Our masks are made out of 3 layers:

      Outer Layer: 100% polyester treated with SILVADUR™ antimicrobial and water repellent finishes
      Filter Layer: Melt Blown Polypropylene (MBPP)
      Inner Layer: 100% cotton treated with SILVADUR™ antimicrobial finish

      Here is a link to the test reports:

      https://d23ibfstiksfhd.cloudfront.net/

      How did the size Large end up working out for your son? Their website has as size chart here; they suggest using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the nose bridge (between eyes) to the chin.

    1. Hi Lindsay! My son wears a size XXS (Kids). Their website has as size chart here; they suggest using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the nose bridge (between eyes) to the chin.

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