Respirators without replaceable filters are for single use only. Is it possible to extend their service life?

Respirators are made of non-woven fabrics and are intended for single use only. After their use, it is necessary to dispose of them. The respirator can only be officially used repeatedly if it is equipped with a replaceable filter. However, there is a shortage of such respirators in our market. At present, shops are again well stocked with disposable respirators and then other protective equipment, and it is therefore appropriate to pre-supply your household by purchasing them.


Good mask respirator
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shortage of respirators and other protective equipment, so researchers sought to find ways to effectively sterilize used respirators so that they could be reused, despite manufacturers’ recommendations. Researchers from the Czech Technical University and the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague have dealt with methods for disinfecting respirators without significantly reducing their filtering ability.

Researchers from the Department of Nuclear Chemistry of the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague recommend several methods of sterilization, which people can also perform at home. However, it should be noted that this emergency sterilization of disposable respirators reduces their effectiveness. It is therefore only an emergency method in the event that all respirators are unavailable.

  1. Heat disinfection using a microwave or hot steam
    If the respirator has metal parts, remove them. Moisten the respirator, for example, with a spray can. Place the respirator in the microwave and sterilize it for 3-5 minutes, depending on the performance of the appliance. Keep a sterilized item under constant supervision in case it ignites.
  2. Disinfection by UV radiation
    Light the respirator with a UV lamp. The recommended lighting time is 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Chemical disinfection
    Use a suitable chemical for this disinfection and then allow the respirator to dry. It is good to know that alcohol-based disinfectants help effectively kill viruses and bacteria, but also reduce the effectiveness of the filters in the respirator.
  4. Pasteurization
    It is a dry heating at a temperature of 60–70 ° C for several tens of minutes.
  5. Boiling
    Boil the respirator in the same way as, for example, diapers or a veil.

All of the above methods of disinfecting respirators are only an emergency solution. Respirators should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s information, ie as a disposable preservative. It is therefore advisable to have a sufficient supply of respirators.