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How to Clean PPE

Photo by Matilda Wormwood from Pexels

The world today is a complete opposite of what its was just a little over six months ago. From carefree, “you only live once” attitudes, people are now gripped with intense fears on what the future comes. The COVID-19 pandemic had indeed changed the norms of life in almost every single way. Everywhere a person looks, people are donning on personal protective equipment or PPE as a safety precaution. It seems that the latest fashion trend is now heavily focused on these kinds of gear!

But it must be admitted that it is wasteful to throw out these materials, considering how pricey they can get in the market. Now, it is imperative that people learn how to conserve them in the face of the growing global crisis. With extensive source materials from health experts, we at Eazihome present this condensed, easy to follow tips to help you use your equipment and keep safe for even longer.

Face Shields/ Goggles/ Eye Shields

In recent weeks, health experts have been recommending the use of face shields as a way of augmenting the effectivity of face masks. The premise behind this is that it prevents droplets of bodily fluids (which, incidentally, is the main means of transmission of the COVID-19 virus) to be in direct contact with a person’s body. However, it doesn’t mean that a person is immediately safe from the virus just because they are wearing it. As said in a previous article, the virus can stay on surfaces for a few hours to some two days. A person can still get infected just by touching the face shield, thus defeating its purpose. To prevent this, extra care is needed during the removal of the PPE. If possible, disposable gloves must be used in taking it off.

To clean face shields, first, give the inside a wipe down using cleaning wipes or cloths saturated in mild detergent. Discard the wipes used, or wash the fabric if it is reusable. Then, using wipes or cloths with detergents, clean out the outside of the shield. Do this carefully so that the cleaning implements will not be touching the other parts of the face shield. After this, apply disinfectants on the outer side to prevent any more growth of microbes on its surface and air dry.

Washable Cloth Masks

Cloth masks are notoriously discouraged from being used, yet being a more affordable option than say, standard N95 respirators, it is the one being used widely by people. Cleaning this type of mask is just like cleaning your ordinary laundry: wash with warm water, use detergents, scrub it vigorously. You can either air- or sundry these masks, making sure that it is fully dried in heat to fully get rid of any microorganisms lurking on its fibres.

N95 Respirator Masks

Now, this is the one highly recommended by experts everywhere. Priority access to this is of course given to healthcare workers who need it during their daily rounds at medical facilities. To those who have this though, the question of how to clean it still stands. The ever expanding universe of the internet have varied takes on this, mostly by self-proclaimed DIY experts. But the truth is, cleaning the N95 is tricky. In healthcare facilities, the respirator is cleaned under UV light that then sterilizes it for future usage. The general consensus though, is to store the N95 in a breathable storage container such as a paper bag and use it for as long as it doesn’t get wet, catch sneezes by either user of passers by, or even by saliva or sweat. Any of these, and the N95 (which is incidentally quite pricey per piece) gets thrown out.

But What About Surgical Masks, Full Body Suits, Surgical Gloves and More?

There is only one option after every usage: throw it out. However, when doing this, extreme care must be conducted. They must be rolled/ turned inside out then placed in containers specially marked for these materials. If you do not have a separate trash can for these though, it is better to put them in trash bags that labels the contents so that trash collectors will know what to do with it. The reason that they cannot be reused is that their protective barriers will break down over time, thus risking its user, rather than protecting them.

For more information on PPE reusability and disposability, do check out the following resources used in this article: