How to Reuse and Clean your N 95 Mask

How to Reuse and Clean your N 95 Mask

It is recommended not to reuse the N95 filtering facepiece respiratory mask. But during this pandemic situation, it is becoming almost impossible to find a new mask every day, and if you do, you certainly cannot afford it. Here are some scientifically accepted and tested methods to decontaminate the N95 mask and reuse them again.

Lets first learn how not to clean the N95 mask

Here are some cleaning methods people think are effective, but in reality, they reduce the effectiveness of the mask.

  • Washing the mask with soapy water
  • Wetting or spraying liquid alcohol or aerosol

If you use any of these methods, it can break the electrostatic charge, which is the key to the small particle of the N95 filter. These methods can reduce the effectiveness of the mask by a third to almost half. 

Methods to clean an N95 mask:

There are three methods of cleaning the mask, which, according to the experts, are credible and can be done easily at your home.

  • Method 1- Rotation-: this method involves using one mask and later leave it for 72 hours so that the virus, if any, is on the mask will die within this time period. This method relies on the belief that COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus does not survive more than 72 hours in an inhospitable environment or host, like on the object’s surface and an N95 mask. This method was suggested by Dr. Tsai. The major downside of this rotation method is that you ought to have at least four masks with you, assuming you will use only one mask each day. And tree new mask for rest 32 hours.
  • Method 2– Boiling or Steaming-: According to Dr. Tsai, if you submerge the N 95 mask in 125C/260F boiling water or steam for around 3 minutes, the mask will be disinfected significantly, without reducing the filtration efficiency of the N 95 mask. You don’t have to constantly stir the mask just put enough pressure to keep it submerged under the water when boiling. If your mask has an inner and outer layer made of paper, then any of the steaming or boiling method is not advisable as it will disintegrate the paper layer that holds the filter medium of the mask.
  • Method 3 – Baking-: you cannot use just any oven to use this method for cleaning your N95 mask. This method needs a second oven dedicated to only this purpose. If you do not, then there is a high chance you will end up contaminating your main oven for food preparation. The N95 mask should be heated at 70C or 160 F for about 30 minutes to decontaminate the mask effectively.

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Shubhrata Choudhary