How to sanitize your N95 respirator using a rice cooker or Instant Pot

Do you feel annoyed to perform the extra responsibilities that COVID-19 has compelled you to do? Well, we think at least half of the world's population would feel exactly the same way. And that is wholly justified. We miss our lives prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, don’t we? We could quickly go out whenever we want and the essential items used to be body spray, comb, sunscreen maybe, sunglasses, lipstick, etc. in our bag. However, the situation is different now. Survival has become the essential thing in this pandemic where millions of people died in these eight months. Every day there are new cases, and this news makes us feel sick and scared. We don’t have any choice other than changing our lifestyle until the vaccine hits the market. Hence, our essential items have become sanitizers, disposable masks, face shields, etc. when we go out in public. Greeting people with warm hugs is past now; we have to maintain social distancing. This is the new normal, and we have to stick to these protocols if we want us and our family and kids safe from the deadly virus. 

All of us are now acquainted with the different types of masks for our daily needs. As N95 is the most popular respirator, people are more inclined to this one than the others in the market. All of its variations are approved by NIOSH, and this is one of the main reasons people trust this one. N95 respirators are manufactured by many companies who sell them online at best deals, but only those who are approved by NIOSH are reliable ones like 3M.  

This distinguishes the N95 mask from surgical masks. This can be used repeatedly post to sanitization, and the users don’t need to throw if after one use. This is generally a three-layered mask with a respiratory valve attached to it. However, there are N95 masks without the respiratory valves as well. Many people ask about the best way of sanitizing N95 masks for repeated uses. Here, we are going to share some methods to sanitize your N95 respirators and masks. 

In an electric cooker such as the rice cooker or Instant Pot, an Urbana Champaign study found that 50 minutes of dry heat have decontaminated N95 respirators that it may have accumulated from indoors and outdoors while providing safety to the wearers. This could allow users to reuse the masks that are not intended for one-time use, without fearing the infection. 

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the public used to buy N95 masks in such vast amounts that it became difficult to identify nurses, physicians, and other individuals who needed them. Now, not only the people but also frontline workers like medical professionals, police, and others will be able to reuse these masks because of shortages. This discovery will benefit them all.

Researchers proposed that the system for decontamination and filtration should be in dry heat without individual planning or leaving any chemical residue. They also wanted a way to be open to people in their homes. They have also chosen to test an electric cooker, a system that many people have in their shops.

They checked that the masks, inside and without, have been decontaminated from four different kinds of viruses, including a coronavirus, by one method, with a rice cooker or instant pot at approximately 100° Celsius or 212Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes. Thye found out that this method has helped the process of decontamination more efficiently than UV light. Then, filtration and fittings are tested.

The scientists created a video showing the procedure. They remember that the temperature should be dry, and no water applied to the cooker. The temperature should be maintained for 50 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius point, and a small towel should cover the bottom of the cooker to prevent direct contact with any part of the respirator and a heating item. It may burn it. However, multiple masks can be placed simultaneously in the cooker.

Researchers see the potential usefulness of the electric-cooker method for health professionals and first responders, especially those in smaller clinics or hospitals have no access to heat sanitation systems on a large scale. This can also benefit other people who own an N95 at home – for example, in a home-improvement project and decide to reuse this.

The Environmental Protection Department of the United States has approved this study and supported the initiative to help many people who don’t have access to professional sanitization machines available in the medical institutes. The researchers made it very clear that the method is restricted to a rice cooker or instant pot. Trying the same in any other cooking machine-like oven or microwave can be dangerous because of the possibility of fire hazards. 

Therefore, if you think that a single N95 respirator is way costly to be used for once, you don’t have to be worried. Now, you can sanitize it and use it repeatedly for a specified period. At least, you don’t have to throw your mask after a few uses. You can do it on your own, at your home. Who doesn’t have a rice cooker or instant pot? When the process is certified,s you can definitely try it, keeping the mandatory protocols in mind. Use your mask repeatedly and keep yourself safe. 

 

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