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Cleaning and reusing N95

by wileyfinn wileyfinn (New) New Student

Sorry if this has been covered, but I'm wondering what the best procedure is for reusing an N95. At my hospital we were initially told we would be using N95/PAPRs for Covid 19 Rule out patients or patients that are positive. The masks were to be reused and stored in a paper bag between uses due to a shortage of them.

So my question on the N95's is this. Can you clean the N95's between uses? It seems to me the outside of your mask would become contaminated with virus particles, and simply putting them in a paper bag would then possibly(or likely) result in some of those particles getting into the wrong side of your N95, so it would be best to clean the thing off before putting it in the bag, but I'm not sure what effect if any this would have on the mask, and what solution to use. We have Oxivir wipes that we use to clean other equipment. Would those work for the N95s?

As it is were apparently so short on n95s that were using surgical masks instead unless in an ICU setting or doing certain procedures, so thats what I've used on the few patients I've had that were rule outs(some of whom were later positive). But Id like to know in the event I'm using an N95. Previously I had used a PAPR on TB patients and cleaned it off with the wipes between uses, but PAPRs are in even shorter supply.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

N95s are being covered with another mask at my facility. The cover mask is disposed of and the N95 placed in the bag and reused.

4 hours ago, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Interesting. We already use this to decontaminate some rooms. I still need an interim method. Wearing a surgical mask over my n95 has occured to me, though the outside of the mask would still be contaminated since the virus can seep through. Were also short on surgical masks.

Ill probably just use the oxivir wipes unless people at work are doing something better.

I feel like the hospital has just accepted that were all gonna get this thing eventually so might as well get it over with and have workers coming back who are immune.

On 4/2/2020 at 12:43 PM, Booty Nurse said:

I was going to post this useful link to reusing N95s, but the page is currently down and says it’s being updated with new information. Hopefully it will be back up soon.

Thanks for the info. I learned we are not to clean off the masks but being careful how we doff and store them to avoid contamination of the inside of the mask as much as possible. Were super short on n95s anyway and just using surgical masks unless doing certain procedures requiring more protection.

Stay safe everyone and keep up the good work.

tfleuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

It's my understanding that any moisture on the front of the mask makes it less effective so any sanitizing wipes would not be advised. We have been given face shields to wear when using N95s and store them in paper bags when not used.

Battelle has already deployed N95 decontamination units to Columbus, Seattle, NYC, DC and I think maybe now Detroit. They are currently building more units to deploy to other cities. Each unit can sanitize up to 80,000 masks per day. Each mask can be processed up to 20 times. This may be a game-changer for nursing staff on the front lines.