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Proper cleaning crucial before reusing any mask

Benita Zahn
Updated: April 06, 2020 06:26 PM
Created: April 06, 2020 05:32 PM

Now that the push is on for us all to wear a mask in public, the question becomes how to disinfect them.

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With masks in short supply, re-use is common, even though that would never be recommended in normal times. However, these are not normal times, and no one outside the medical community is recommended to wear an N-95 mask. The Centers for Disease Control discourages any home recipe for cleaning them.

For a homemade mask of any type, Dr. James Malley, PhD, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire, says clean it as soon as you return home. That means laundering and drying it, along with the clothing you wore outside as well.

Malley was involved in the UV disinfection of the Albany water supply some years back.

He notes clearly, you can't wash a professional N-95 mask. Elevated heat and humidity can disinfect these masks, but leave that to the professionals says Malley.

It's not a job for your microwave or steam iron. In fact, that could make bigger problems.

Learn more about why, by watching the video of Benita Zahn's story.

MORE INFORMATION: Effects of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) on N95 Respirator Filtration Performance and Structural Integrity

You can also reach Malley at jim.malley@unh.edu.


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