Watch the best visualization of the filtering capabilities of face masks at the microscopic level I have seen. You can scroll through the animations. Less than 5 minutes is required. There are references for more information.
With these animations, you can see how cotton and n95 mask filtering works. For example, you can see the smallest particles being bounced around by air molecules in a random zig-zag pattern, increasing the time they spend in the fiber forest and their chances of getting captured.
Tightly woven cotton outperforms most common fabrics. A nonwoven material like that of an N95 respirator is most effective.
Humans are visual. We can more easily understand if we can see something. But, the virus-containing particles are too small for us to see, even with a standard microscope. Now you can see the particles being trapped in cotton vs n95. How face masks work: excellent animations
I always assume everyone, including myself, has Covid, including family and friends. 50% of infected persons show no symptoms.
My personal story
I got industrial n95 masks two years ago when wildfires created lots of heavy smoke where I live. N95 masks were the best to use. Other face masks don’t work for smoke. A few months ago, we had the same bad smoke. Bright red sun in the morning and twilight all day long. I used my n95 masks.
When the pandemic started, I used the n95 masks. They had small round air filters. To block the air, I covered the filters with tape. Now I use other types of masks also, such as layered cotton.
Proper fitting is very important so no virus-laden particles leaks in or out of the mask. Fitting properly is difficult with n95 masks. Facial hair is a significant problem, especially beards.