How to clean surgical masks if they have been exposed to harmful pathogens?

If you have been wearing surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment, you are probably looking at the best ways for you to maximize the supply that you currently have. 

With that, this article aims to provide ways to clean surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment as well as some other information that you may need to learn more about. 

Facts You Should Get Straight

You should keep in mind that before you are able to clean surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment, you should be able to learn more about the facts that the World Health Organization (WHO) already recommend.

Wearing Surgical Masks Is Necessary

The WHO recommends wearing surgical masks for the general population. Surgical masks are the masks found in hospitals but have now been ventured out for use of the general population. 

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also required individuals to go further and advised all to go and wear a cloth covering for anyone who is going into a crowded public place. 

You Should Not Exceed The Guidelines

You should not exceed the guidelines that have been set. Misusing any of the protective gear could cause more harm than good. It is because the masks and the gloves themselves aim to capture germs and viruses in  the air. This means that they are definitely contaminated so once you touch them, you may have to face a challenge in the fact that you may contaminate your hands or the things around you once you misuse any of the guidelines. 

According to Jade Flinn, an educator in the biocontainment unit at Johns Hopkins University, there is a high possibility of contamination at the time of the failure to properly use the personal protective equipment. She said in a statement that “When I see someone [wearing gloves] touching countertops and then digging in their purse, I think, 'Now they’ve created cross contamination and voided whatever protection they’re wearing”.

How To Clean A Cloth Mask

Cleaning a cloth mask can be done through washing off the virus. It is really susceptible to detergents. Joshua Santarpia, a pathologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said that laundry detergents are necessary to get rid of the virus.

How Do I Clean Contaminated Surgical Masks?

Surgical masks are also worn by the general population. Not like the cloth coverings, there are medical masks that are intended for single use as well. But, it is now important to maximize the use of the surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment and decontaminate them. 

If you wash the surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment and try to decontaminate them improperly, you may cause more damage to the filtration capability of the surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment.

Ultraviolet Light

One of the most important kinds of experience that you need to know about is use of ultraviolet light. In hospitals, individuals use a high energy type like ultraviolet light. Some hospitals even require their staff to decontaminate and re-wear their masks a handful of times. 

There are a lot of ways of decontamination that individuals should know more about but using ultraviolet light is one of the best and most sought after by many individuals. 

This kind of sterilization is used worldwide.

Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide

Individuals are also now familiar with the use of vaporized hydrogen peroxide. It is said to be one of the most effective ways for individuals to clean their surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment. 

It has several advantages such as the following:

  • It cleans quickly and efficiently. It has a rapid cycle time which lasts between 30 minutes to 45 minutes;
  • It also has a low temperature, environmentally safe by-products that individuals would love;
  • There is relatively good material compatibility even after a couple of decontamination sessions; and 
  • There is ease of operation, installation and monitoring so individual users will not have to worry about training the end-user.

Dry Hanging

A cost effective solution that some people already know about is dry hanging. Dry hanging is the process of hanging your surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment for 72 hours so that the virus is already gone or inactive before reuse.

How Many Times Can I Decontaminate My Surgical Mask?

To be completely honest, surgical masks should be discarded upon use. But given the current predicament, a maximum of a second use should be remembered by people. There is no sense in wearing surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment if you are wearing something that does not even work for you. It is up to you to protect yourself. 

Keep Yourself Informed

If there is one thing that you should keep in mind, it is the fact that you should keep yourself informed. People should always remember that they need to always have the latest information possible so they can make an intelligent and a wise decision. You should always keep yourself informed of the latest facts about the surgical masks, N95 masks, N95 respirators, and all other personal protective equipment and everything else in between. You are responsible for what you do so your knowledge should always be updated and relevant to your current needs.

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