LAST UPDATED: October 10, 2019
Best Dust Masks: Block Airborne Particles While you Work
Protect yourself from inhaling dust and other airborne toxins with these dust masks
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 10, 2019
Do you spend a lot of time on woodworking projects, mowing the lawn, or other allergy-inducing jobs at home? Then you need to protect yourself from dust, pollution, and allergens with a highly effective dust mask that can trap airborne particles. Here are a few options you could consider.
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Benefits of Dust Masks
- Be safe. Sometimes the air you breathe contains harmful contaminants and airborne elements, which can cause breathing and other health problems. Fortunately, you can alleviate these issues by wearing a dust mask.
- Protect yourself at home. If you work on a lot of projects at home, a dust mask is very helpful. It helps if you’re constructing projects out of wood, fiberglass, or drywall and do a lot of sawing, drilling, and sanding.
- Breathe better. If you are particularly susceptible to allergens and pollen, a dust mask limits the particles that enter your lungs, which will help you breathe more efficiently. Many masks feature breathing valves that reduce heat and moisture so you can breathe better.
Types of Dust Masks
This is the most basic type of dusk mask and will protect you against some airborne elements. It has the lowest level of filter protection and a minimum level of breathing resistance. It will not contain an exhalation valve but will protect you from dust and aerosols. It's ideal for home renovation projects that involve cutting, drilling, and sanding.
These masks protect against fumes, mist, and airborne elements. They often have exhalation valves, and there's greater breathing resistance compared to an FFP1 mask. There's usually an integrated charcoal layer to protect against ozone, and they’re good for agricultural activities and construction tasks, such as plastering and sanding.
If you want the best dust protection you can get, then this is the type of mask you need. FFP3 masks provide the most amount of protection, and if fitted properly they can protect against viruses, bacteria, and fine toxic particles like asbestos. The filter is thick and blocks 99 percent of particulates. There’s also an exhalation valve.
Dust Mask Pricing
- $5-$15: The majority of dust masks fall within this price range. They provide protection against dust and other airborne particles but are not for medical use. Expect to pay more if you want a package that contains multiple masks.
Level of Protection
Some masks are very basic with only a couple of layers of material, while others feature five or more layers that are designed to filter out more air particles. Heavy-duty masks can be custom made to fit specifically to the dimensions of your face, but they are more expensive. Once you determine the purpose of your mask, you can determine what level of protection is appropriate.
Fit is critical when you purchase a dust mask. If it's too big, it may slip down your face and won't provide adequate protection when you're working on a project. If it's too small, it will be uncomfortable to wear. Look for masks that have adjustable straps and nose clips so you can customize the fit.
The last thing you want is a mask that restricts your breathing, particularly if you're working on projects that kick up a lot of dust. Some masks are more breathable than others. Many brands include breathing valves that reduce heat and moisture, while masks that are too thick may cause breathing issues. If you wear glasses, look for masks that have anti-fog properties.
- Reusable/Disposable: Disposable masks are designed for one-time use, while reusable ones can be worn over and over again. Many reusable masks are washable so you can clean them regularly. Some also feature replaceable filters, which extends their lifespan even further. Disposable masks may be more convenient because you don't need to maintain them, but reusable ones may be more solid in construction and provide better protection.
Best Dust Masks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This dust mask is made in the USA. It is 50 percent neoprene and 50 percent cotton and is designed to filter out dust, pollen, pet dander, pollution, and other airborne particles. The mask covers 50 percent of your face, including the nose and mouth, and is washable and reusable.
The mask is soft and snug yet not too tight, so you can breathe comfortably. Each strap is a single piece of soft elastic, and they do not pinch or squeeze your ears. The mask also includes care instructions for a longer lifespan.
However, this mask is not for medical use and has not been tested to minimize the transmission of diseases. Also, there is no nose clamp, so it may feel like it's slipping off your face.
Almago Limited's mask includes a HEPA filter and is designed to filter out dust, allergens, and other air particles. It features a flexible nose bridge that allows users to customize it for a better fit, and each mask is shipped in a sealed plastic bag. The mask folds flat so you can easily carry it in a bag or your pocket.
The mask fits snugly over the nose and under the chin and provides a lot of coverage for optimal protection. It is also well-padded and easy to adjust for a comfortable fit. It features five layers of protection, including an activated carbon filter layer. The company also backs its products with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
One downside is that the mask is a little small. There have also been some complaints that it breaks prematurely. In addition, there's no evidence that it protects against diseases.
This reusable cotton mask provides protection against dust, allergens, pet dander, and other airborne particles. You can wash it by hand or throw it in your washing machine. The complete package includes four Universal 4521 masks.
The mask has a snug fit and fits close to your face. It is thin and lightweight and includes a flexible metal wire on the nose bridge for a custom fit. The two layers of the mask are made of a very tightly-weaved material. Also, the ear loops are soft and you can barely feel them. Overall, the mask is sturdy, comfortable, and well-made.
Unfortunately, it's not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and it won't protect against harmful substances such as asbestos and silica. In addition, it may be a little small for some people.
This package includes 50 disposable face masks designed for dust protection, construction applications, dental use, and for people with allergies. The mask has three layers, including an inner layer that is made of soft tissue that won't irritate your skin.
The mask has hidden metal, bendable nose strips that you can adjust to fit your face properly. The ear loops are soft and designed so they don't put too much pressure on your ears. The masks are decent quality for a disposable product and look exactly as they are depicted in photos online.
However, they are not medical-grade masks and will not protect against bacteria or viruses. They are a little big for some people and may slip down your face.
This package includes two washable and reusable black masks. They are designed to be worn by both men and women and are made to protect against dust, pollen, and fumes. They are approximately 11.4 by 5.12 inches.
These masks are made of high-quality sponge material that is both comfortable and breathable. They have exhalation valves that are made of a non-toxic PP material. The mask covers the nose and mouth, and the elastic ear straps provide a snug fit. The mask's active carbon filters are also washable.
One drawback of these masks is that there is no indication that they protect against diseases. And since one size fits all, there's no way to adjust them for a custom fit.
This reusable and washable mask protects against dust and other airborne particles. It blocks 99 percent of pollen and non-oil-based contaminants. It comes with elastic straps that keep it firmly in place and exhalation valves for breathability and to minimize heat and moisture accumulation.
The mask is designed so it doesn't fog up your glasses. It's made of nylon mesh, which is soft, lightweight, and fast-drying. You can wash the outer shell and replace the filters to increase its lifespan.
However, the mask is very thin and may be a little too tight for some people. The piece on the bridge of the nose is not very comfortable, and the vents aren't airtight when you remove them to change the filter. Also, the mask is not for medical purposes.
While this mask is designed for cycling, running, and other outdoor activities, you can also use it for woodworking and other DIY projects to protect against dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. The mask comes in a variety of colors and is designed so it will not deform, fade, or retain odor.
The mask is made out of lightweight, stretchy, and breathable material. It features five layers of protection, including an activated carbon absorption and moisture-wicking layers. It also has breathing valves for comfort. It fits comfortably and snugly, and the head strap is adjustable for a custom fit.
One downside is that there are no instructions on how to replace the filters. It's also unclear if it is washable, and it may be a little small for some users. It is not designed for medical purposes.
- Most dust masks develop mold if there’s moisture buildup in the inner layer. You can prevent this by cleaning the dust mask and leaving it to air dry.
- Do not use strong detergents to clean the mask. They may weaken the dust trapping layer and you may not be able to stand the strong smell on the mask.
- Consider alternative treatments if the dust mask does not help to clear your allergies. Consult your physician for other options available.
Q: How does a dust mask trap particles?
A: Most dust masks are designed with non-woven fibrous filters, which form web-like layers that can trap tiny dust particles in the air that are inhaled by the wearer. However, the web fibers aren’t closely packed since they would make it hard for the user to breathe. The masks may include special formulations that also trap carbon, pollen, and other allergens.
Q: Can a dust mask get you out of a fire?
A: Paper or surgical masks will not protect you from inhaling toxic smoke fumes. A wet piece of cloth won’t help much either. You need a respirator mask that’s formulated with smoke inhibitors, which effectively removes carbon and other toxins from the air you breathe.
Q: What’s the difference between a dust mask and a respirator?
A: A dust mask is made of thin material and can only trap non-toxic dust such as when you’re sweeping, dusting, or woodworking. Most are disposable. A respirator is a more advanced version of a dust mask and is made of thicker material that can clear out toxins, such as exhaust fumes. A respirator is commonly referred to as a dust mask since that’s its basic function.
Our top pick is the DewAmor Reusable, Washable Neoprene/Cotton Face Mask. It's an American-made product that is washable, reusable, and comfortably covers your nose and mouth to protect against dust, pollen, and other airborne particles.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Respirator for Dust, Pollen, Allergies, Paint.