The main types of face masks are surgical masks, cloth masks, and the KN95 or N95 masks. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic, many people have rushed to purchase the KN95 mask as it has been reported to be the most effective of the four types of masks. Due to this knee jerk reaction by people, the health workers on the frontline have been faced with the problem of the shortage of their supply. The KN95 mask is thicker than the surgical mask hence more effective than the latter.
This problem has led the CDC and the WHO organizations to advise people who aren’t caring for people from suffering from this contagious disease not to wear the KN95 mask. However, it seems that this advice has fallen on deaf ears, and people are still purchasing the small number of masks left. Also, due to the hard economic situations, many people are finding it hard to purchase the KN95 masks every single day; hence they are asking themselves the question, “can KN95 face mask be washed?”
What we have to understand is that the KN95 mask was made to be disposable. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people have faced the shortage problem of the KN95 mask, CDC has recommended some practices that can be followed when experiencing this problem. KN95 masks and surgical masks shouldn’t be washed. Some companies have experimented and used hand soap and water to clean the mask and let it dry for a night. After drying the mask overnight, they tested its ability to capture the particles the same way it did before washing it.
They found out that washing the KN95 mask was reducing the filtration effectiveness of the mask. The cleaned KN95 mask’s capability to trap particles was decreased by 21%. The main reason as to why it is so harmful and not advisable to wash your KN95 mask is because this particular mask was made from thin fibers which are aligned randomly. The lifespan of the mask is at a greater risk of not being effective through washing it than letting it age naturally. One, however, can opt to soak the mask in alcohol, even though its ability to capture particles is reduced; it isn’t as much as the way washing would do.
Additionally, health workers have opted to use the masks for an extended period of 8 hours a day though they exercise some precautions. These precautions include; handling the patients being affected by the same illness, all the while not removing the mask. They also can reuse the masks provided they don’t wash them. Researchers have also found out that the used mask can be decontaminated through the use of hydrogen peroxide, which has been vaporized. The filter integrity of the mask can be maintained by also heating the mask over 70 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. There are many ways to decontaminate a KN95 mask, but washing it isn’t one of them.