What type of mask to choose

The effectiveness of non-medical masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19 can vary based on many factors. It depends on material, construction, fit and proper use. Some non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 similarly to medical masks if they:

  • fit well
  • have multiple layers, including at least 2 layers of breathable tightly woven fabric, such as cotton and
  • an effective middle filter layer

Few non-medical masks provide information about their filtration effectiveness.

In general, while non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, medical masks and respirators provide better protection. No matter which type of mask you choose, proper fit is a key factor in its effectiveness.

Mask standards

There’s currently no required standard for non-medical masks sold in Canada. 

PetiteVie Masks Standards 

All PetiteVie Masks have an inner layer of melt-blown non-woven polypropylene filter. All our masks are 3 layered. 

Fit is important for all mask types

How well a mask works also depends on fit. When choosing a mask, keep in mind:

  • the fit of the mask can vary depending on the size and features of your face
  • masks with a flexible nosepiece may provide a better fit over the nose
  • masks with ties or bands that go around the back of the head may provide a better fit
    • if choosing an ear loop-style mask, use one with adjustable ear loops or use the tips below to improve fit
  • respirators are designed to fit snugly on the face, which may allow for a better fit than a medical mask or non-medical mask
    • a respirator worn in the community doesn’t need formal fit testing

A well-fitting mask should:

  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaps and not allow air to escape from edges
  • fit securely to the head with ties, bands or ear loops
  • be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
  • maintain its shape after washing and drying (for non-medical masks only)

Ways to improve fit include:

  • adjusting ties, bands or ear loops
  • adjusting the flexible nosepiece
  • tying knots in the ear loops and tucking the sides of the mask so that it lies flat
  • using a mask fitter or brace
    • a mask fitter or brace is a device made of flexible material worn over a mask to help provide a snug fit
      • fitters and braces may be made of plastic or silicone
  • layering a well-fitting non-medical cloth mask over the top of a disposable mask to improve the fit
    • this will help to push the edges of the disposable mask closer to your face
    • make sure that you can still breathe easily when wearing 2 masks
  • keeping facial hair and beards shaved or short, if possible, so the mask can fit more closely to your face

Proper use and care

To make mask use as effective as possible, it’s essential to make sure you’re using, storing and cleaning them properly.

A mask is most effective when it's worn properly. Keep your nose and mouth covered while wearing a mask to prevent exposing yourself and others to potentially infectious respiratory particles.

Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you:

  • adjust your mask
  • put your mask on
  • take your mask off

It's important to keep your mask clean when not in use, or when eating or drinking.

Do not hang the mask from your ears or place it under your chin. Store it in a clean paper or cloth bag until you put it on again.

Properly clean and disinfect any items that improve mask fit, like braces and mask fitters.

- Government of Canada