Differences between surgical masks and KN95 masks

KN95 masks

Many people also think KN95 masks and N95 respirator masks are the same things because they are so similar in name. They are really close in many respects. Both are made up of many layers of synthetic materials that filter out 95% of the air's 0.3 microns or larger particles. However, depending on which country is offering certification, these masks are kept to various specifications.

The mask fit of KN95 must be checked on human subjects (about 8 percent leakage required), while N95 did not need a mask fit test (though hospitals often do their own mask fit tests). Tests that ensure they are slightly more breathable have N95 masks

The KN95, tested exclusively for use in the medical field, is the only mask usually approved in the United States for healthcare use. However, the CDC has granted emergency relief because of the PPE shortages triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surgical masks

Surgical face masks serve as barriers to liquid splashes and direct aerosols to keep the surgical area sterile (as from a sneeze or cough). Intended for relatively short wear, a disposable surgical mask fits loosely to the face. Four levels of safety, ranging from the least, intended for medical procedures that do not require fluid or aerosol spray, to level 3, are outlined by ASTM guidelines for surgical face masks.

Surgical face masks, usually made with two filter layers, are effective at blocking large droplets and particles as small as 0.1 microns when worn properly. They do not effectively provide protection against small, airborne particles, such as cough or sneeze, due to the loose fit of surgical face masks.

The FDA certifies surgical masks, not NIOSH, including N95. Surgical masks are loose-fitting disposable instruments that should be discarded after one use, according to the FDA.

Differences between surgical masks and KN95 masks

If it becomes increasingly important to wear a mask, the question on the minds of most people is whether the masks available on the market will have major variations from the surgical masks. In the industry, the most popular mask is kn95.

We are engaged in a debate that reviews the kn95 vs. surgical mask to help you find out how it varies from the surgical mask. In the analysis, when comparing kn95 versus surgical mask, we aim to find the similarities and differences that occur.

There are main differences between KN95 masks and surgical masks;

The way these masks designed

As compared to the 3-ply surgical mask, the KN95 mask has four coats. While both are made from non-woven cloth, for added efficacy and longevity, the kn95 has an additional film.

The KN95 face mask is more appropriate than a surgical mask. The KN95's elastic edges allow it to fit tightly across your face. A surgical mask, like the KN95, does not cling as closely. Its edges actually leave an opening that can let in splashes.

With an ear loop or straps that you can attach around your ears, the two masks quickly lock over your face. They have lace, too, that bend over your chin, over your nose, over your mouth.

Filtration efficacy deference of kn95 masks and surgical masks

The surgical mask is certified by the health practitioners concerned for use in specific surgical procedures. To shield you from splashes and droplets that may come from the patient or coworkers, they are meant to serve as a physical barrier. The mask is also designed to prevent the patient and the colleagues you are working with from using your saliva and nose spray.

As such, we are not covered by a surgical mask from infections coming from microscopic pathogens such as viruses. The mask can only capture large particulate matter from polluted air and protect it from fluids splattered on your face. It was not known, however, that the mask prevented the entry of microbes into the person's nose or mouth.

On the other hand, the KN95 mask has been approved for both particulate matter and pathogens as an effective shield. It is possible to capture both extremely tiny microbes and larger particles such as hair, dust, and molds. 

When comparing the effectiveness of KN95 with the surgical mask, it is evident that KN95 is more effective because it is possible to capture particles smaller than 0.3 microns.

Endurance of kn95 masks and surgical masks

The KN95 mask is manufactured of a fabric that is more durable and can be used repeatedly for up to 1 month. However, after each use, the surgical mask is a single-use shield that you can dispose of. If you continue with your medical treatment, you may need to change masks if you find that you have soiled them.

It was because the surgical mask is manufactured from a paper-like material that gets damaged under minimum pressure. As compared to the KN95 face mask, the surgical mask is often more vulnerable to damage from moisture.


Manufacturers are making stronger masks that can be reused, with the availability of face masks becoming unreliable all over the world. The KN95 is amongst these reusable masks. In order to allow you to use it separately, the mask also has a replaceable inner film. Before reusing it, you, however, must sterilize it properly.

UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, and heat exceeding 75oC have been identified by experts as suitable for sterilizing your KN95 mask. If you want to use heat to sterilize it, make sure that it is exposed to heat for a minimum of 30 minutes.

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