When working on a big auto job, a DIY project or even a deep clean of your home, you need to protect yourself from all those airborne nasties you will undoubtedly create. From humble dust to fumes and allergens, it is essential that you take the right steps to keep your breathing sweet.
Holding your breath and hoping for the best just won’t cut it, you need to add protection to your kit list. And with our review of the best dust masks, you can be confident we have your respiratory system covered. From simple face masks that filter out household dust or pollen through to military-style particle filters that suck up even the most harmful of airborne particles, there is a dust face mask for you.
But don’t just take out word for it, take a deep breath and read on…
The Best Dust Mask
The Fightech is a multi-purpose dust face mask that can take you from workshop and garden to an urban running training session, enabling you to breathe healthy whatever your activity. Rated N99, which indicates an impressive dust filter performance, the Fightech is offers effective protection against non-toxic dust, pollen, mold, fumes, common airborne irritants and other non-oil based particles. While not suitable for gases or chemical vapors, it can also help to protect against non-oiled based paint fumes.
With an eye-catching design that fits the full lower face, the Fightech is made from skin-friendly, breathable fabric with layered active carbon filters as well as one-way discharge valves to reduce heat build-up inside the mask as you work. The mask also includes anti-fog foam nose pieces to prevent air reaching your eyewear when you exhale. There are neat ear loops to prevent slipping and an adjustable nose band so you can customize the fit. Washable, this is a reusable dust mask to have in your toolbox for all those dusty DIY projects or to protect against allergies as you work outdoors. As one of our best dusk masks, the Fightech is also an effective breathing mask for your training bag as it can keep fumes at bay when you train or cycle outside.
Half-face dust mask, rated N99
Protects against airborne irritants and non-oil based particles
Replaceable active five-layered carbon filters
Breathable fabric, with one-way discharge valves
Ideal for DIY, gardening or outdoor training
- Weight2.72 ounces
For a straightforward breathing mask to have in the workshop or back of the truck, the cost-effective SAS Safety dust mask comes in a box of 50 so you are always ready for those small dusty ‘nuisance’ jobs. The SAS Safety does not provide NIOSH approved protection so are not suitable for more heavy-duty projects or for more dangerous irritants such as mold. These face dust masks are not intended to protect against vapors, such as those found when spray painting your auto. But it does act as a reasonable filter against household dust, pollen or cut grass, making it a good everyday domestic mask.
Simplicity is the keyword with these dust face masks, a soft mask that fits over your nose and mouth, with an adjustable nose piece to shape the mask to your face and a single elastic strap to hold it in place. Use at the height of the pollen season to help protect against hay fever or if you are sensitive to dust but need to give the house a good clean. They can also help if you are doing a minor sanding job in the workshop when you could do with a little extra protection.
Protects against pollen, household dust and cut grass
Single strap elastic head band
Adjustable metal nose piece
Does not provide NIOSH approved protection
50 masks per box
- BrandSAS Safety
- Weight8.3 ounces
For sucking out the muck of the urban environment, the CFORWARD Dustproof Mask is a cool looking piece of kit that’s suited to the fitness fan’s gym bag. There’s a stealth ninja look to this well-priced face dust mask, which has been designed for running, cycling and other outdoor activities. It can also work well as a go-to particulate mask for the DIYer’s toolbox.
Made from a lightweight, neoprene-style fabric for a quick- drying and comfort fit, there’s an alumimum adjustable clip on the nose bridge so you can custom the shape to fit your face. There are plenty of ventilation holes as well as a double-air breathing valve to let your exhaled breath easily escape, reducing heat and moisture build-up on the inside of the mask and giving you a smoother breathe. The activated carbon filter is also effective in halting around 95% of non-toxic airborne particles created by dust, the natural environment, car fumes and general urban living in their tracks.
Designed for runners, cyclists and outdoor activities
Made from breathable, quick-drying material
Adjustable nose band for comfort fit
Double-air breathing valve for easy exhalation
Comes with a one-year warranty
- Weight1.6 ounces
For a basic dust mask to keep around the house, this five-pack from 3M is a good addition to the cleaning cupboard. They come with the 3M quality reputation, but they are NIOSH approved, so not suited to more toxic or heavyweight jobs. But for helping to protect against everyday allergies or to keep your lungs clear when tackling the housework, the 3M Home Dust Mask is the way to go.
Neatly covering the mouth and nose, the material of these breathing masks is soft and nicely pliable and will not irritate the skin on your face. There is a simple aluminum nose clip so you can tailor the fit and the whole dust mask is kept in place by a sturdy elastic band. If you use them for light jobs, you should get several wears out of each mask too, if you store them well between use. You do get a bit of a ‘hot breath’ effect inside this 3M dust mask, particularly if you are working hard but with its simple design, that’s to be expected.
Pack of five home dust masks
Simple nose and mouth cover design
Adjustable nose strip for comfort fit
Protects against dust and pollen
Not NIOSH approved
- Brand3M Safety
- Weight0.8 ounces
Unassuming but hardworking with a great shelf life to boot, the Vogmask also comes with a n95 mask rating, making it a great choice for jobs, big and small. Made from a lightweight and impressively breathable fabric, the Vogmask fits really well, snug but not too strong on your face. The nose and mouth half-face dust mask is kept nicely in place, thanks to the latex-free spandex ear loops. But what we really like from such a straightforward breathing mask is its performance, protecting you against PM 2.5 particles in air pollution and other non-toxic airborne contaminants.
Dust, pollen, wood shavings, fire fumes and air pollution, it not only reduces your exposure to airborne nasties but also filters odors too. The breathe while wearing this N95 dust mask is good too, thanks to exhalation valves, keeping the heat and moisture inside the mask to a minimum. And as a reusable dust mask, it is really good value; hand wash and look after this breathing mask well and it should last you up to six months.
Dust mask to protect against non-toxic airborne particles
Rated at N95 – filters 95% of contaminants
Protection against particles as small as 0.3 microns
Soft fabric, with non-latex spandex ear loops
Reusable – lasts for 3-6 months
- ModelSingle Valve
- Weight1.6 ounces
The premium pick in our best dust masks review is this sleek looking breathing mask from RZ Dust that is a totally sleek operator too. Made from breathable neoprene and with a dual exhalation valve system, this hardworking dust mask will filter out the non-toxic airborne nasties without leaving the inside damp or your eye protectors fogged. Rated to an impressive 99.9%, the RZ dust will also suck up minute particles, to a size of 0.1 microns, to give you awesome all-round protection. And, thanks to the neoprene, it has been designed to perform effectively in cold temperatures.
The fit is good too, with a back fastening and adjustable nose clip to keep you snug and your breathing mask slip free. Use to filter dust, pollen or airborne irritants, then watch it step up on your more hardcore home DIY jobs, such as plastering, sanding and sawing. It may be at the top end of our best dust masks review budget but with its twin replaceable active carbon filters, the RZ dust mask will prove great value over time.
Laboratory tested – filters 99.9% of particles
Dual-Exhalation valve system removes moisture
Anti-Fog adjustable nose system
Includes two replaceable active carbon filters
Neoprene design to work in low temperatures
- BrandHardware & Outdoor
- Weight5.4 ounces
For when you need higher level protection when out on a work job, or for sheer convenience, these foldable dust masks from 3M could well be your breath-filtering solution. The 3M Aura is a disposable dust mask that provides effective filtering against dusts and non-toxic mists found in a variety of industrial and DIY work applications where you need FFP3 protection (higher levels of dust as well as solid and liquid aerosols and metal fume).
This FFP3 mask has a clever three panel design for greater facial movement and comfort, perfect for the longer job and the low breathing resistance filter keeps your breathing easy throughout the shift. At the front of the dust mask there is also a Cool Flow valve to help reduce heat and moisture build-up. The 3M Aura comes in a single flat pack, hygienically sealed for easy storage and contamination protection.
Flat fold disposable FFP3 filter mask
protects against higher levels of fine dust, mists and metal fume
Low breathing resistance filter technology
3-panel design for greater facial movement
Cool Flow valve reduces heat build-up
- Weight1.6 ounces
This easy to use dust mask from SafetyPlus is a good value disposable mask that performs impressively well, even though it looks simple in design. In fact, its simplicity is its strength, as proved by its NIOSH N95 particle filter rating. With effective nose to mouth coverage and with a built-in adjustable nose clip design, you get a great fit without feeling over-covered. And the exhaust valve means you can breathe easily without heat build-up, moisture or fogging.
The SafetyPlus is a versatile chap too – for the price you can afford to have it at home if you find the dust and airborne particles created by cleaning or gardening just a little too ‘irritating’. But it then totally steps it up in the garage or workshop, filtering out non-toxic particles and dust created by grinding, sanding, plastering and other dust-creating DIY jobs. This is a disposable dust mask that comes in a pack of 10 so great value. And, we think that for lighter filtering situations, you could get several uses if you store it well in-between.
Pack of 10 disposable dust masks
Filter rated to N95
Adjustable nose clip for custom fit
Exhaust valve allows easy breathing
Great for sanding, grinding and DIY
- Weight6.9 ounces
In our seemingly ‘germy’world, if bugs and contaminants are your concern, then pop on one of these bug-busters that can also be used to filter out your everyday DIY debris! Billed as ‘anti-flu’ these easy-wear breathing masks can protect from dust, allergens, germs and pollen as well as dust, ash, smoke and low-level environmental pollution.
The manufacturers claim the Anti-Flu and Sawdust Mask can filter out up to 99% of non-toxic airborne particles, down to 0.1 microns in size. The design is slimline, with a cotton line and comfortable to wear but there are no exhaust valves. However, the soft mask material is washable so great for multi-use and you get three black masks in each pack, making the less than $10 price tag great value for money. Pack one in your travel case for weekend city breaks if pollution is a concern or in your gym bag for when you go for an outdoor run or cycle. They are also an option to have in your tool kit, for basic sanding and other DIY-dust generating jobs around the home or garage.
Three pack of 100% breathing masks
Filters dust, ash, pollen, allergens, flu and haze
Good for travel, outdoor activities and general DIY
Ear loops and adjustable nose clip
Washable and reusable
- Weight0.48 ounces
The Cambridge Mask Co have tapped into military technology to come up with this awesome anti-pollution breathing mask that whips out almost 100% of particles in the air you inhale. Rated N99, it meets the highest NIOSH standard and also protects against a range of harmful gases and odors to PM0.3. The target list for this breathing mask is impressive – including coal dust, exhaust fumes, factory emissions and particles from construction. The gases it sucks up include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Ozone, Benzathine, and Formaldehyde.
This dust face mask uses a triple-layer filter system which will protect from a range of airborne contaminants yet despite its military credentials is easy and comfortable to wear. Made from a soft, hand washable fabric, the ear loops keep it in place while an adjustable toggle keeps it totally secure. We think this is a great go-to mask for pretty much all dusty or dirty occasions, whether it is in the auto workshop, for home DIY, on the construction or industrial site, spending time in air-polluted environments, for health reasons or travel.
Reusable breathing mask with adjustable straps
Lab tested British Military Filtration Technology filters
N99 rated/PMO.3 triple-layer filters
Works on airborne particles as well as gases and odors
Ideal for construction, DIY, travel and health protection
- BrandCambridge Mask Co
- Weight5.3 ounces
Best Dust Mask Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying a Dust Mask
To get the best dust mask, you will need to check out the following to make sure it is totally up to the dust-busting job:
Filter: First up, know what you are looking to keep out of your lungs. This way you can match the filter type and strength to the job at hand. The filter ability of a dust face mask or respirator is split into two:
- Particles: you are in dust mask territory if you need to filter out microscopic particles – aka dust – from the air. Particulate masks should be approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), meaning they can filter out particles as small as one millionth of a meter – or 0.3 microns to you and I. Particle filter masks tackle dust, pollen, mold spores, sanding and wood dust but do not work on gas or vapor. Also, check the product’s labelling as some particulate masks are not suitable for high volume or toxic dust.
- Vapor: these breathing masks use activated charcoal, which is highly porous, to suck out dangerous vapor you may get from paint and chemicals. We are also moving into respirator territory here, with some models also having air purifiers to help with easy breathing as you work.
Dust mask ratings: All NIOSH approved dust masks come with one of three ratings – N, R and P – which show the filter’s ability to resist oil mist. N is ‘not resistant’, R is ‘somewhat resistant’ and P is ‘strongly resistant’. Masks are also rated to show the efficiency of the filter in the worst-case scenario – 95%, 99% and 99.7%. Now, here’s the clever bit – your mask will be rated as a combination of the two, for example, N95 mask (not resistant, 95% filter capacity).
Fit: Doesn’t matter how good the filter is, it if is a poor fit, your dust face mask isn’t really going to work. Dust face masks come in small, medium and large sizes and often have adjustment fittings to make sure they are snug. With most reusable dusk masks, look for an aluminum strip across the bridge of the nose that can be bent to fit as well as a strip of foam rubber on the inside to ensure a good seal.
Coverage: You can also choose how much the dust mask covers your face. A simple half face mask will cover the nose and mouth, which is perfectly serviceable if you are working in an environment which does not have particles that could be harmful to your eyes or skin. For more aggressive and harmful situations where you need more protection, then opt for a more full-faced dust mask design.
Durability: You may have your disposable or reusable dust mask in storage for some time so before you use, check it is in good condition. For a long life, store away from sunlight, in a dry, dust-free environment. Also, if you have a filter mask, check the expiry date.
Why You Should Use a Dust Mask?
If you are working in an environment that could expose you to hazardous dust, then you need to take the right precautions to keep you safe – and this means wearing a dust mask. Whether it is for work or for your own DIY project where dust and harmful particles are present, then it could well be a lifesaver. Many materials used in construction and even in your own garage or workshop can be harmful to your health, particularly if they are inhaled over a prolonged period of time. Using a particulate mask will filter out harmful particles before you have the chance to inhale them, protecting your lungs and respiratory system from contamination.
Dust Mask vs. Respirator
While it can seem that they do the same job, there is a clear distinction between a dust mask and a respirator. Dust masks should only be used for filtering out dust particulates you get when you are sanding, grinding, cutting wood etc. In short, if there’s physical dust in the air, wear your dust mask. To filter out anything chemical – which includes spray paint – only ever opt for a respirator-style breathing mask, anything less is ineffective.
To be safe, always keep a respirator and a supply of dust masks in your workshop cabinet so you have all the bases covered.
Disposable vs. Replaceable
When choosing a dust mask, you can opt for either disposable or a multi-use alternative which has a replaceable filter. Both work well in situations where you need protection against airborne particles or dust, but when it comes to picking which is right for you, it is about personal choice. To help, here’s the lowdown on both:
These breathing masks are intended to wear for a short period of time before you throw them away. A disposable dust mask needs to be discarded when it starts to crack or fold, and you can see visible soil or dirt on the inside of the mask. However, the benefits are convenience and also cost and can be bulk bought for when you need them.
A replaceable dust mask comes in two parts – the main mask body and a filter cartridge which enables you to extend the resuable dust mask’s shelf life and makes the whole mask a little more durable. When the filter is used and becomes ‘unstable’ you simply replace so that the whole mask can be re-used.
Best Dust Mask FAQ:
Q: How does a dust mask work?
A: Simply put, a dusk mask is a flexible pad which is held over the nose and mask by straps (typically elastic or rubber) to protect your airways from potentially hazardous airborne particles as you work on your auto, DIY or construction project. There are several dust mask types, but they are basically all designed to rotect you from dust created from drywall, brick, wood, silica, fiberglass for example. They can also be worn if you are susceptible to allergies. Typically made from a breathable fabric, dust masks act as a barrier to pollutants and can also include filters to target and remove specific particles and allergens. However, they cannot protect against chemicals, vapors or mists so if this is your issue, you need to look for a more heavyweight respirator to keep you safe.
Q: What is dust?
A: Dust is made up of miniscule particles of solid matter from the environment – both natural and man-made. Everything around us is constantly breaking down thanks to the wear and tear it experiences. From rocks and soil, to minerals, plastics, fibers, household materials, plant pollen to human and animal skin, tiny particles are released into the air, to create what we know as dust. We can help this process when we embark on a DIY or building project – fire up your buzz saw or sander and you will know exactly what we mean!
Q: How often should I perform a fit test?
A: We say opt for the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach which means check the fit of your dust mask every time you put it on. Disposable masks are only designed for a couple of uses and many are not adjustable so if the fit has failed then discard and put a new mask on. For adjustable masks, test each fit section and replace the mask if there are any signs of sagging or wear.
Our Top Pick
Price, filter quality, comfort and ease of use – these are the reasons why the Fightech Dust Mask scooped our best dust mask review’s top pick.
For less than $20 you get a multi-purpose breathing mask that will take you from workshop to garden and then on to your outdoor training session, whipping out the main airborne nasties as you work, rest and play. And with the highest NIOSH rating in our review, it works hard to keep your breathing sweet. Washable and reusable you get a lot for your money and so we think it is an essential for your tool box.
- The Difference Between Dust Masks and Respirators, and When to Use Them - LifeHacker
- Do You Have Questions about Disposable Dust Masks? We Have Answers! - EHS Today