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Reuse masks

I have seen some articles from reputable sources detailing methods to "clean" N95 masks so they can be reused.

Does anyone do that?

I use my masks for very brief times; a weekly trip to the public library, or a visit to an MD.



Posted by
10359 posts

Yes, I have but won't anymore. Surgical masks. The French government told us early on that surgical masks could be washed, reused. They also said they need to be changed every four hours.
However, this interview with an expert doesn't mention washing, but he says to set them out for seven days. The electrical charge is what is important in the masks.

Posted by
14278 posts

I have a couple of N95 masks in my car that I use over and over for the kind of trips you describe. I don’t wash them, just start a new one when the elastic stretches out.

I’ve seen the “change every 4 hours” recommendation but I don’t believe even health care workers are doing that and most of them are getting more of a viral load on the outside than anyone making trips into the grocery, library or an office visits. I know we’ve got a number of current or retired folks in the healthcare field so if I’m wrong about staff reusing masks, let me know.

I will add that when I went to France in the Fall I took enough N95 masks to change them out every day.

Posted by
945 posts

The omicron variant is a game changer. We also go out only when necessary and always masked with N95 or KN95. We dispose of them, never washing and reusing, but my husband is immunocompromised, so we are extra careful. There are many trustworthy sources that you can Google about omicron and masks (delta is still out there and is even more deadly). Here is one:

Posted by
5137 posts

Our masks have evolved, along with the virus. We started out with clofh masks, washing them after each use (we were pretty much hermits in the early months). Then we changed to disposable surgical masks and threw them away at the end of each outing. Now we are using N95s and at home are following the rotation strategy of using a different mask each day, and allowing them to dry out for 5 days before reusing; then throwing away after the 5th use.

That's fine if you aren't traveling around, since you can find a safe place to store them in between uses. But for our travels next month we will dispose of them each day.

Posted by
4600 posts

Use and toss frequently, it's going to be one of the smallest expenses on your trip. Don't sweat it.

Update - was just going through my mask stash and my kn95 package says specifically do not wash.

Posted by
1594 posts

Disposable masks should be discarded after use. One never knows if reusing them increases Covid risks.

Posted by
4600 posts

And our friend Mr. Biden just announced that masks will be available for free. Of course he said that about testing kits as well ...

Posted by
496 posts

Since mask wearing became a thing last year in NZ I found that only KN95s are even vaguely comfortable and I can see with out fogging classes. I only wear a mask in shops - so maybe for up to 45 min at a time? I keep a mask in my handbag and replace every month or so. If I wore it long enough for it to get damp I'd throw it immediately

Posted by
680 posts

As suggested in the Washington Post link, I am taking paper lunch bags on our trip to store/rest our masks before reusing.

Posted by
11493 posts

We used a mask a day on our trip last fall, assuming we were on public transportation or spent other time (shopping) in the company of others. We used KN95 or KF94 for intense transportation days but a simple surgical mask for those times when we were not encountering crowds. We changed every 4 hours on the plane.

I packed enough on the KN94 or KF94 to get us through 10 weeks but replenished the surgical masks locally as we travelled.

We do pretty much the same at home now, but lean more heavily on the better masks. As we are often only in a store for 40 minutes or so we make a mask last 2 or 3 days.

Posted by
2113 posts

N95s can not be washed. I hang my N95 masks in the sun. I never pull it up over my nose by the front. Pull it up by the straps if the mask falls under your nose. I’m also double masking by using a surgical mask over my N95 and throwing the surgical mask away after one use. Double masking helps seal the N95 a bit more as well.

If I go ahead with next month’s flight to Mexico, I will be double masked for more than 8 hours. Those masks will be discarded once I’m in my hotel room. It isn’t going to be fun.