Reusing and maintaining N95 respirator masks


 It is recommended that N95 anti-virus masks be used by medical personnel and emergency personnel to treat patients with viral infections. The CDC recommendation states that these masks should not be reused. However, during a pandemic, these devices may be in short supply and therefore need to be reused.

In this article, we will carefully study the recommendations for reusing the N95 gas mask. We will also show you how to maintain the mask when needed. (Learn More:

Define key terms

Reusing the mask means using the mask multiple times when encountering the patient. However, between taking care of the patient, the mask should be removed and stored safely. For a long time, contrary to your idea, in cases where pathogens cannot be transmitted through contact, repeated use is allowed. A major example is a patient suffering from tuberculosis.

On the other hand, extended use refers to wearing the same mask for repeated contact with the patient. In this case, the wearer cannot wait to remove the mask until it is displaced. This is allowed when several patients suffer from the same infection and they are in the ward together. This method is recommended if a pandemic occurs and the N95 gas mask is insufficient.

What does CDC recommend?

During the pandemic, breathing masks were known to be in short supply. Therefore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that institutions combine the two methods defined above. For this, certain guidelines must be followed:

  1. Use administrative and engineering control measures to reduce the number of people who need respiratory protection.
  2. Use alternative respirators when feasible. For example, elastic half masks, air-purifying respirators, and mask respirators.
  3. Implement the practice of allowing limited reuse and expanded use of N95 gas masks.
  4. Make sure to give priority to those who are at greater risk of complications.

Recommendations on prolonged use of respirator

You must have heard that the health authorities are in favor of expanding the scope of use rather than reusing it. This is because it minimizes the number of times the wearer touches the mask. The advantage of this is that since the wearer does not touch the mask, the risk is less.

One of the main conditions for reusing the respirator is that it maintains its normal function and suitability. In this way, the mask can still be used safely. People who work outside the scope of medicine sometimes use the respirator for a long time. The range should be up to 8 hours of intermittent or continuous use.

However, in medicine, the recommendations for use are at the discretion of the wearer. It depends on health concerns and practical considerations. If allowed, the administrator must ensure compliance with the guidelines regarding surface contamination. This includes following hand hygiene etiquette and proper doffing and wearing techniques.

In order to limit the spread of contact when workers wear gas masks, the following tips should be helpful:

N95 respirator masks
  1. After any procedure for generating aerosols, dispose of the respirator.
  2. Discard all respirators contaminated with nasal or respiratory secretions, blood or other body fluids.
  3. Dispose of the respirator after contact with a patient diagnosed as having contact precautions.
  4. Consider using a cleanable mask instead of a respirator to prevent or minimize surface contamination.
  5. Always use clean water and soap or hand sanitizer (alcohol-based) to perform hand hygiene etiquette. This operation should be done before and after touching or adjusting the respirator.
  6. Discard damaged respirator or difficulty breathing.

Recommendations for reuse of respirator

As we mentioned above, there is no specification for the number of reusable N95 gas masks. This number is determined by the degree of contamination of the mask and the quality of its retention function. In this section, if necessary, we will provide advice on reusing the N95 gas mask.

  1. Discard any respirators used in the process of generating aerosols.
  2. Dispose of respirator contaminated with blood or body fluids such as nasal and respiratory secretions.
  3. Dispose of respirators that are worn when in close contact with patients with contact infections.
  4. If possible, choose a cleanable mask instead of an N95 mask.
  5. Used respirators should be placed in a breathable container or hung in the designated storage area between uses. Make sure not to touch the mask to avoid cross contamination. In addition, each mask should be properly identified to prevent others from using it.
  6. After adjusting or removing the respirator, make sure to clean your hands with clean water and soap or hand sanitizer (alcohol).
  7. Do not touch the inside of the mask. If you touch the inside of the mask by mistake, discard it immediately. After that, implement the above hand hygiene regulations.
  8. Use new non-sterile gloves when putting on or dropping the mask. When finished, discard the gloves. If you must make any adjustments to the mask, wear new gloves before discarding.

Maintaining the respirator

If the respirator must be reused, it must be maintained to provide maximum protection. After each use, the mask needs to be cleaned properly. To this end, we outline the following steps:

  1. Remove the filter and/or filter element connected to the respirator.
  2. Use breathing detergent to clean the mask except for the filter and filter element. If no wipes are available, the mask can be immersed in a warm cleaning solution other than 120 °. Scrub the mask with a soft brush until you think it is clean.
  3. Soak the mask in sodium hypochlorite or quaternary ammonia solution for disinfection.
  4. Rinse with warm fresh water and air dry in a clean atmosphere.
  5. Store the mask in a dedicated bag or breathable container.

in conclusion

We have already explained why to extend the use of reusable than N95 respirators better. However, if you must reuse the mask, we will provide you with guidance to protect yourself. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments section. ( For information, more details, visit .)

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