Kn95 vs Surgical Mask – What’s the Difference?

As wearing a mask increasingly becomes a necessity, the question on most people’s mind is whether the masks that are available in the market could have significant differences from the surgical masks. The most common mask in the market is the kn95. To help you figure out how it differs from the surgical mask, we engage in a discussion that reviews the kn95 vs surgical mask. In the review, we seek to find the similarities and differences that emerge when comparing kn95 vs surgical mask.

As the quality of air becomes more compromised and mask makers unable to keep up with their increased demand, most people are eager to find as many reliable alternatives to the face mask as possible. In this post, we will evaluate the popular kn95 vs surgical mask to establish how they compare as far as keeping you safe is concerned.

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kn95 face masks disposable
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The kn95 mask has four coats as opposed to the 3-ply surgical mask. Although both are made from non-woven fabric, the kn95 has an extra film for added effectiveness and durability.

The kn95 face mask is also more fitting than a surgical mask is. The elastic edges of the kn95 enable it to fit tightly over your face. A surgical mask does not cling as tightly as the kn95. In fact, its edges leave an opening that can let in splashes.

The two masks easily fasten over your face with an ear loop or straps that you can tie over your head. They also have pleats that bend down your chin, over your mouth, and on the nose.

Effectiveness of kn95 vs surgical mask

kn95 vs surgical mask
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The surgical mask is certified for use by health workers involved in particular medical procedures. They are supposed to act as a physical barrier to protect you from splashes and droplets that could come from the patient or colleagues. The mask is also designed to keep your saliva and nose spray from the patient and the colleagues you are working with.

As such, a surgical mask does not protect you from infections coming from microscopic pathogens like viruses. The mask will only trap large particulate matter from polluted air and shield you from fluids splattered on your face. However, the mask has not been known to prevent the entry of microbes to the user’s nose or mouth.

The kn95 mask, on the other hand, has been certified as an effective barrier for both particulate matter and pathogens. It can trap both the exceedingly tiny microbes and the larger particles such as hair, dust, and molds. In comparing the effectiveness of kn95 vs surgical mask, it is clear that kn95 is more effective because it is able to trap particles smaller than 0.3 microns.


The kn95 mask is made of a more durable fabric, and you can use it repeatedly for up to 1 month. However, the surgical mask is a single-use shield that you should dispose of after each use. You may also need to change masks as you progress with your medical procedure if you notice you have soiled it.

This is because the surgical mask is made from a material that is paper-like and gets damaged under minimum pressure. The surgical mask is also more prone to damage from moisture as compared to the kn95 face mask.

Comparing reusability of kn95 vs surgical mask

kn95 vs surgical mask
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With the supply of face masks being unreliable all over the world, manufacturers are making tougher masks that can be reused. Among these reusable masks is the kn95. The mask even has a replaceable inner film to allow you to use it severally. You, however, must sterilize it well before reusing it.

Experts have listed Ultra Violet Germicidal Irradiation, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, and heat exceeding 75oC as suitable for sterilizing your kn95 mask. If you choose to use heat to sterilize it, ensure you expose it to the heat for not less than 30 minutes.

While you may reuse your kn95 face mask, a surgical mask is certified as a disposable mask. This means that you should not reuse it. The surgical mask is rather delicate, which means that you may not succeed in decontaminating it.

Appropriate user of kn95 vs surgical mask

A surgical mask should only be used by medical workers when they are performing a medical procedure. Even with medics, the surgical mask is not appropriate for use for all procedures. For example, dental procedures require a different type of mask. The general public is advised not to use surgical masks since they offer ineffective protection from pathogens that may be found in contaminated air.

The kn95 mask, however, is safe for use outdoors as well as in medical facilities. It can be used to perform all kinds of procedures, even during surgeries when medics usually wear surgical masks. Kn95, therefore, is appropriate for wider use as compared to the surgical mask.

Pros for kn95

  • Reusable
  • Effective in shielding you against pathogens
  • Durable
  • Good for use by medics and general public

Cons of kn95

  • The mask is in limited supply
  • Might be too expensive for some people

Pros of Surgical Masks

  • Effective shield for splashes and particulate matter
  • Appropriate for use during surgeries
  • Readily available

Cons for Surgical Masks

  • Only appropriate for use during surgeries
  • Not reusable
  • Not durable
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The surgical mask is more readily available as compared to the kn95 face mask. They are both soft and comfortable. However, kn95 is more effective in screening pathogens like viruses and bacteria. It also fits more tightly, which reduces the chances of pollutants getting to your nose or mouth.

The kn95 mask is more durable, which means that you can reuse it after sterilizing it properly.

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