Jump to content

How to Sanitize N95 Masks for Reuse: NIH Study


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Medscape Medical News https://www.medscape.com/index/list_11861_0

Marcia Frellick

April 17, 2020

How to Sanitize N95 Masks for Reuse: NIH Study


...Exposing contaminated N95 respirators to vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) or ultraviolet (UV) light appears to eliminate the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the material and preserve the integrity of the masks' fit for up to three uses, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study shows.

Dry heat (70° C) was also found to eliminate the virus on masks but was effective for two uses instead of three.

Robert Fischer, PhD, with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana, and colleagues posted the findings on a preprint server on April 15. The paper has not yet been peer reviewed...


Posted in the above articles comment section:

Canada: N95 Mask Decontamination using Standard Hospital Sterilization Technologies


...We sought to test the ability of 4 different decontamination methods including autoclave treatment, ethylene oxide gassing, ionized hydrogen peroxide fogging and vaporized hydrogen peroxide exposure to decontaminate 4 different N95 masks of experimental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 or vesicular stomatitis virus as a surrogate. In addition, we sought to determine whether masks would tolerate repeated cycles of decontamination while maintaining structural and functional integrity. We found that one cycle of treatment with all modalities was effective in decontamination and was associated with no structural or functional deterioration. Vaporized hydrogen peroxide treatment was tolerated to at least 5 cycles by masks. Most notably, standard autoclave treatment was associated with no loss of structural or functional integrity to a minimum of 10 cycles for the 3 pleated mask models. The molded N95 mask however tolerated only 1 cycle. This last finding may be of particular use to institutions globally due to the virtually universal accessibility of autoclaves in health care settings....

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.05.20049346

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

Does anyone know how to even partially decontaminate N 95 masks at home? I've been issued one mask, with the understanding that the agency would give me more PPE if my home client gets COVID 19.

I have no assurance that they will even have any more masks.

(No, I'm not using it yet, although I do use a procedural mask.)


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Article in above posts stated Dry heat 70C kills coronavirus.

From the Hunker site:


Modern dryers have at least three general cycles: low heat for delicates, medium heat for permanent press and high heat for regular clothes. The temperature range is 125 to 135 F across these cycles.

Some dryer brands and models can reach as high as 176 F. These extreme temperatures might be common in commercial and professional grade dryers that are used in large households,


70 C = 158 F So I'd put an N95 mask in a lingerie bag in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes as best chance for home mask cleaning.

Lingerie bag:


Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

My husband is thinking about getting me an ultraviolet light sanitizer for small objects, like cell phones. The advertisement shows a procedure mask being sanitized.

CampyCamp, RN

Has 18 years experience.

is there any discussion about dealing with the fit? A correctly fit tested mask feels effective at 7 AM but by 7 PM, my glasses are fogging and I can feel leaks at the side because the elastic stretches out even if it's only removed and replaced once.


Has 43 years experience.

I'm glad that I'm retired.

Most of this pushes against everything that I was ever taught or practiced in working with vulnerable burn victims or children with active infectious diseases like measles. It is hard to wrap my head around the state of our pandemic planning and preparedness at all levels.