Can you reuse KN95, N95 masks? CDC says yes, but follow steps to sanitize them

As the government considered people to wear more substantial masks than the typical cloth versions that have been worn throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the KN95 and N95 variations are either difficult to find or come at a high price.

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The cost and supply issues may have many people thinking about how long a KN95 or N95 can mask be used and whether they can be cleaned when they become dirty?

The Journal of Emergency Medicine published an article in 2020 that said an N95 mask can be left in a paper bag for three to four days to allow the COVID-19 virus to die, KIRO reported.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information published an article that said a mask can be steamed in a microwave by using 60 ml, or about 2 ounces, of water in a glass bowl, covering it with mesh from a product bag, then setting the mask on top of the mesh, microwaving it for three minutes, KIRO reported.

Keep in mind that the masks do have a metal strip, but researchers said they didn’t see any sparks, so try at your own risk.

Researchers said that the use of soap can decrease the filtering efficiency of the masks and that the steaming procedure is what is recommended by the inventor of the material that the masks are made of.

To find new masks, instead of looking at typical online sellers and running the risk of getting masks that are not what they claim to be, the Washington Emergency Management Division suggests using to purchase masks that have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and that meet NIOSH requirements.

The CDC says about 60% of KN95 masks for sale are counterfeit and do not meet NIOSH requirements.

The CDC says to follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to clean or dispose of the masks properly.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Twitter Wednesday that the agency will continue to “recommend any mask is better than no mask” and that “recommendation will not change.”

She also said the CDC will be updating information on the different levels of protection that various masks provide.

For more on the different types of masks, visit the CDC’s mask page.

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