The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic represents a considerable risk for the general public and especially for health care workers. To avoid an overloading of the health care system and to control transmission chains, the development of rapid and cost-effective techniques allowing for the reliable diagnosis of individuals with acute respiratory infections are crucial. Uniquely, the present study focuses on a direct face mask sampling approach, as worn (i.e., used) disposable face masks contain exogenous environmental constituents, as well as endogenously exhaled breath aerosols. Optical techniques – and specifically infrared (IR) molecular spectroscopic techniques - are promising tools for direct virus detection at the surface of such masks. In the present study, a rapid and non-destructive approach for monitoring exposure scenarios via medical face masks using attenuated total reflection infrared spectroscopy is presented. Complementarily, IR external reflection spectroscopy was evaluated in comparison for rapid mask analysis. The utility of a face mask-based sampling approach was demonstrated by differentiating water, proteins, and virus-like particles sampled onto the mask. Data analysis using multivariate statistical algorithms enabled unambiguously classifying spectral signatures of individual components and biospecies. This approach readily extends towards the rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 – as shown herein for the example of virus-like particles which are morphologically equivalent to authentic virus - without any additional sample preparation or elaborate testing equipment at laboratory facilities. Therefore, this strategy may be implemented as a routine large-scale monitoring routine, e.g., at health care institutions, nursing homes, etc. ensuring the health and safety of medical personnel.