How to Properly Disinfect and Decontaminate KN95 Face Masks for Re-Use?

How to Properly Disinfect and Decontaminate KN95 Face Masks for Re-Use? - Brookwood Medical

Masks are part of our daily life now, and they're not going anywhere. There are a variety of different face masks you can use, depending on your lifestyle and preferences. One of the most popular types is KN95 face masks.

These are reusable face masks that offer the most protection against coronavirus. It filters out 95% of particles from the air breathed in. If you own one of these masks or are looking to purchase, you'll need to know how to disinfect and decontaminate it properly. 

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This guide shares the proper way to make sure your mask is properly clean and ready to use. Let's get started.

Difference Between N95 and KN95 Face Masks

You might be confused by the difference between N95 and KN95 masks. N95 face masks are personal protective equipment, or PPE, that protect the person wearing them from contamination. The N is for "Not resistant to oil."

KN95 masks are also PPE used to protect you from similar hazards. They are often identical to N95 masks and are primarily used in an industrial setting. They offer the same filtration as N95 masks as well. 

The FDA approved the use of KN95 masks for healthcare professions to increase available PPE. It's a great option for anyone who wants the strongest protection against the coronavirus. 

Can You Wash a KN95 mask?

It is not recommended you wash a KN95 face mask. At least not in the traditional sense, with soap and water. Do not clean masks by spraying them with aerosol or liquid alcohol, and do not wash them in soapy water.

KN95 masks are made of a paper inner and outer layer that will be damaged if you steam or wash it. It will disintegrate the material and reduce the mask filtration efficiency. You can most likely clean your mask by boiling it if it isn't made of flimsy material, like paper. 

The most simple method of cleaning the masks is:

  1. Soak the mask in hot water
  2. Rinse the mask
  3. Air-dry the mask

Other Methods of Disinfecting

There are other ways of disinfecting KN95 masks that you may not have thought of. Many people assume that washing with soapy water or tossing them in the laundry is sufficient. This is not the case; it's important to do your research before attempting any methods that have not been properly researched.

Brown Paper Bag Method

The CDC recommends using standard brown paper bags to store masks for proper decontamination. You shouldn't use sealed bags because it needs to be something breathable. Here are the steps for using the paper bag method for reusing masks:

  • Label respirators on the outside of each bag with the user's name and date
  • Remove masks without touching the inside
  • Place the mask into a new paper bag
  • Store the bags with masks and wait at least 5 days before reusing them
  • When you need to reuse the respirator, remove it from the bag and use it without touching the inside of the respirator 
  • Discard the bag that the masks and respirator were stored in
  • Use a new bag every time you store masks

This is a simple and efficient way to decontaminate KN95 masks. 

Using Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide

Ideally, you would replace a KN95 mask after each use. However, sometimes there is a limited supply, and you need to reuse your current mask. There may not be a ton of information on decontaminating your mask properly, but there are key principles for effective cleaning.

You'll want to make sure the mask's fit isn't compromised, the filtration capacity is preserved, the mask isn't soiled, and the method of cleaning must inactivate the viral load on the mask.

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One method of sterilizing KN95 masks is using vaporized hydrogen peroxide. This may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to KN95 face mask care, but studies show it successfully decontaminates KN95 face masks. 

The vaporized hydrogen peroxide can penetrate through the mask layers and kill microbes. The best part of all? There's no damage done to the mask.

Using Dry Heat

Heating your mask at 70C for 30 minutes can provide decontamination to wash KN95 masks while keeping the filter efficient. The National Institute of Health specifically indicates that this method can be used for two cycles. It kills the virus without compromising the fit of your mask. 

UV Light to Disinfect 

Some hospitals use UV light to kill coronavirus. There is encouraging data that indicates UV-C light effectively makes COVID-19 inactive. This is one of the more promising methods, provided that the entire mask and straps could be exposed to UV light. 

If the mask isn't bathed completely in the light, it can leave residual traces of the virus. Of course, not everybody has access to UV light, so find a method that works best for you. 

What to Avoid

Of course, some methods are not approved by the CDC for disinfecting your mask. Avoid using these options since there is little to no research done on them. Do not try to clean your KN95 masks with:

  • Alcohol 
  • Bleach
  • Boiling
  • Microwave
  • Sanitizing Wipes
  • Soapy water

Remember that these masks go on your face and protect you from getting sick, so be careful with how you clean them.   

KN95 Face Mask Care

The best thing you can do when it comes to masks is: have plenty of them available. You can separate the used masks from the clean ones using different bags. As cumbersome as it may seem now, you'll get used to it in no time.

If you need to disinfect KN95 face masks, there are different options available. Some are more effective than others, but there's also convenience to consider. As long as the method is safe and the mask gets disinfected, you'll be good to go. 

Looking for the perfect face mask? We have a variety of you to choose from, be sure to check out our products!