How much does a reusable face mask cost?
Straight up, it's one of the more expensive pieces of fabric you'll ever own.
Wearing masks outside the home is mandatory in parts of Victoria, and many other Australians are choosing to wear masks to help contain the spread of coronavirus. Increased demand means that many stores are running out of stock, and others are charging high prices. But just how much should you expect to pay for a mask?
We analysed current pricing to see how much is being charged for reusable cloth masks in Australia right now. Here's what we discovered.
Average mask price
Average shipping cost
The big lesson? Pricing varies a lot, with masks from as low as $6 to $50 or more, and it pays to shop around. But if you're paying more than $50 to get a single mask delivered, you're likely overpaying. Bulk buying and checking shipping costs can make a huge difference.
Our price analysis methodology
For this analysis, masks had to meet the following criteria:
- Made of cloth and able to be washed and reused. Disposable masks are cheaper per unit and more widely available right now, but they're less environmentally friendly. We've done our best to compare equivalent products, but there will be differences between brands in (for instance) sizes available and degree of facial coverage. We didn't include masks that ship with filters in this analysis.
- Cheapest adult size available from that store. Fancier designs invariably cost more, and kids' sizes are usually cheaper. We looked at pricing for single masks; many stores offer discounts on bulk purchases, and some only sell in multiple lots (and hence weren't included here).
- Designed for general use, not medical or industrial protective use. There's a need for higher-grade options such as P2 or K95 for healthcare workers and people with medical issues, but they're not necessary for everyone else.
- Sold online. We've included some retailers who also have physical stores but have factored in their delivery costs when selling online since in-store stock levels are so unpredictable.
We calculated shipping costs based on the cheapest available option for Melbourne, where demand is most urgent as of this writing, and we checked the pricing on Tuesday 21 July 2020. Many retailers had no stock or were on backorder at this point.
We didn't cover every single mask seller, but aimed to include a representative selection of major brands and local retailers. We'll update this analysis in the future as we see significant price movements or changes.
Australian mask price list
Here's what the retailers we analysed were charging for shipping a single basic reusable mask to Melbourne on 21 July 2020.
|Retailer||Cost||Shipping||Total (1 mask)|
|Australian Face Masks||$34.90||$7.00||$41.90|
How can you save money on masks?
You should buy in bulk. Many retailers offer free delivery, but only if you spend a set amount or buy a certain number of masks. In practice, if you're regularly wearing a mask, you'll need to own several anyway so you can use a new mask each day while others are being washed and dried. Experts suggest you think of them as being like underwear: wear a new one each day and don't take it off in public.
Postage is often the biggest trap. Stores that ship masks from overseas often charge more for postage than for the mask itself. If your heart is set on that highly customised design, you might be OK with that, but bear it in mind. If you're a member of a scheme such as eBay Plus or Amazon Prime, look for options with free postage at those retailers.
Be prepared for delays. Many retailers are out of stock, and some are quoting restock periods of 30 days or more. Orders from overseas may well take longer than that, even if the item is in stock, due to coronavirus-related shipping delays. (We're maintaining a list of stores with fast delivery, but always check what the delivery time is when you actually order.)
Make your own. Urgently need a mask? It's possible to get basic protection with a home-made mask even if you have no sewing skills. Check out the video below:
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has more detailed instructions on sewing your own mask.
Where to shop for reusable masks
Check out Finder's list of stores selling reusable masks, which we're regularly updating to reflect stock levels. We also have state-specific lists for Victoria and New South Wales, which include some retailers who have local pick-up options, and also highlight other mask options.