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Improving Mask Effectiveness Through Double–masking

Using a mask correctly and consistently is important to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. Everyone should wear a mask, but not all masks provide the same level of security. Consider how well the mask suits, how well it cleans the air, and how many layers it has.

What is double masking and how does this benefit?

When you layer one mask on top of another, you're doing double masking. This could be beneficial in two ways:

  • Better fit

Many styles of masks do not suit your face perfectly. In reality, you've probably noticed that when you breathe in and out, air escapes through the sides of your mask. This faulty seal will not only allow virus-infected respiratory droplets to escape but also allow them to enter your mask. The use of two masks will help to prevent this from happening. When you're wearing two masks, the outer mask will gently brush against the inner mask's edges. The inner mask blends more tightly to your skin and provides a tighter seal as this happens.

  • Increased filtration

SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread via respiratory droplets generated when a person infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. Adding a second mask will further boost filtration. This is because it essentially doubles the number of layers of material that virus-containing respiratory droplets must pass through before touching your mouth and face. Wearing a double mask is more effective at minimizing aerosol exposure from coughing than either a cloth mask or a surgical mask alone. When both the source and receiver wear a double mask, aerosol exposure by coughing is significantly reduced.

How to double mask?

You may be wondering how you can safely and efficiently wear two masks. Here are a few pointers to help you get started:-

Use the appropriate combination of masks: A disposable mask should be worn underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric

Other mask variations should be avoided: Certain mask combinations cannot improve fit and may make breathing difficult. You should stay away from the following combinations:

  • a KN95 mask, as well as every other kind of mask
  • an N95 mask, as well as every other kind of mask


  • Don’t combine two disposable masks. Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
  • Do not use the same mask for two consecutive days.
  • Washcloth mask regularly.

Conduct a test at home: Before wearing your double mask in public, give it a test run at home.

  1. Fit is one of the things to look for: Assist the inner mask in forming a seal by pressing it against your face with the outer mask. To do this, cup your hands over your mask and feel for air escaping from the edges as you breathe.
  2. Breathing: When you're double masking, breathing might take a little more effort, but it shouldn't be difficult.
  3. Vision: Check to see if your double mask is obstructing your view.

Preventative measures, such as hand-washing and physical separation, should be used in addition to wearing a mask. Given the existence of more transmissible viral variants, this is especially significant.


Dr. Vikas Deswal
Internal Medicine
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