Where to store your N95 masks when you’re not wearing them?

It was after the birth of the novel coronavirus that masks and respirators such as the N95 started becoming popular among the masses besides the construction and healthcare workers. Suddenly N95 was the mask everyone was talking about and was in constant search of as this mask was the preferred choice of agencies such as the CDC and NIOSH due to its efficient protection against airborne particulates. But a pandemic is not sunshine and rainbows, it is a very stressful time to live in. People were even struggling to acquire the items of necessities during this time so items of personal protective equipment such as the N95 were about as easily available in the market as missiles

There was a huge shortage of PPE, to such an extent that even people working in healthcare didn’t have sufficient respirator and other PPE for their protection and the US government’s denial of this problem didn’t help the situation either As a result, healthcare workers resorted to reusing N95 masks which are recommended for one-time use only. This made a lot of people question the reusability of these respirators and urged different scientists to figure out a possible way through which the N95 could be sterilized and reused.

Although no definite result has been acquired yet and the scientists still haven’t agreed upon a method that is viable for sterilization. While some continue to argue that N95s can’t be sterilized at all and are created to be used once only, there is the question of what one is supposed to do with their N95 when they are sitting idle and are not being donned—where does one store them? Whether you have ordered N95s in bulk and now you’re wondering which will be a suitable place to store them or you simply want to store your used N95 in a safe place to reuse later—worry no more because you are about to find the answer to this nagging question.

What “storing” refers to exactly

Storing an N95 mask or other respirator means to put the mask in a suitable place that will protect it from damage and bacteria and keep it safe so that the buyer could put it to use after some. This applies to both the masks that are new and also to the ones that have already been used and the user wants to store them to ensure their effectiveness so that he/she may put them to further use later. Storing is necessary because as mentioned above, if a mask is not stored under suitable conditions it will lose its effectiveness and go to waste, and during times like these when a mask such as the N95 is a coveted object, it is important more than ever to store them in a safe place.

Ideal places for mask storage

According to the CDC, there is more than one way of storing a mask whilst also keeping it safe from contamination or any other damage. Following are the preferable methods for mask storage:

  • Hang them

An easy yet viable way of keeping a mask safe and sound till further use would be to hang it in a clean place. You may either hang them on a hanger, rack, or clips but make sure that the place you’ve decided to hang them on is clean and free from any sort of contamination. In this way, you’ll be able to sustain these masks for a long time without any problem.

  • Use a container

Storing your N95 in a container would also be a good option. It will keep your mask safe from any contamination and damage and whenever you need your mask you can just open the lid and don it easily. However, make sure that the container you have chosen is most importantly clean and not damaged in any way. In addition to this, the containers should also be replaced-preferably regular or either as per one’s convenience but don’t be a slacker in this regard, because a contaminated mask isn’t good for anyone.

  • Store in a paper bag

Like containers, you may also store your N95s in paper bags. This will be an economical way of storing masks since you can get paper bags quite easily at a cheap price. However, like a container, paper bags should also be replaced daily to avoid any contamination. 

Now that you know the ideal storing method of a mask, there are some additional guidelines you must also follow to make this task more effective. Always remember to store your mask in a dry place, if you're using a mask other than the N95, then place it with the front side folded and if you’re in a haste or do not have a proper place for mask storage then you can also keep you ask safe by placing it N95 between two clean paper towels or tissues.

Conclusion

To prolong the life of one’s N95, one must know about the ideal location of storing it. Not only does storing will help you in keeping your N95 mask safe from contamination and other damages but it will also give your used N95 mask time to get rid of the particles trapped inside of it- that is if you give it enough time in the storage. A person must keep the guidelines given by the CDC in mind while selecting a suitable place for storing their mask.

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