COVID-19: How to properly clean protective masks

COVID-19: How to properly clean protective masks

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How can COVID-19 protective masks be cleaned?

Ozone or activated oxygen seems to be suitable for the effective sterilization and cleaning of masks to protect against COVID-19. When reusing protective masks, it is particularly important that they are sterilized to ensure optimal protection.

An editorial on cleaning protective masks published by the University of Toledo College of Medicine explains which measures for sterilization are most successful. The editorial was published in the English-language journal "The Open Dermatology Journal".

Lack of masks in hospitals

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a huge challenge to health systems around the world - including hospitals, doctor's offices, medical staff and medical supplies. A very vivid example is the lack of equipment and preventive kits, including so-called N95 masks . The lack of N95 masks in hospitals has forced many local hospitals to use normal masks as well.

Sometimes masks have to be reused

A major problem for people in healthcare and hospital settings is how best to sterilize (clean) the masks for use so that they are ready for reuse if necessary. An editorial has now described how such effective sterilization can be achieved.

Chemical agents for sterilization are particularly well suited

Dr. Craig G. Burkhart of the Medical Faculty of the University of Toledo College of Medicine defines in his editorial a suitable method for the sterilization of protective masks. In his opinion, the best cleaning solution for protective masks is treatment with chemical agents for sterilization.

Ozone sterilization is very effective

Such agents work, for example, by killing all bacteria, fungi and viruses through oxidative processes. The so-called ozone sterilization is a very effective method for sterilizing masks, reports the expert.

How does cleaning with ozone work?

Ozone or activated oxygen (O3) is a sterilizing agent that has already proven successful in killing bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa in the past. When fighting viruses, ozone diffuses down to the nucleic acid in its protein shell and thus damages and kills the viruses. The activated oxygen destroys the unsaturated lipid envelope of the virus by breaking the existing multiple bond configuration, explains the author of the editorial.

Virus cannot survive without a lipid envelope

Since the core content of the virus cannot survive without an intact lipid shell, the virus is killed. The COVID-19 virus is one such virus that is unable to survive without its lipid envelope, and has an unsaturated lipid envelope that surrounds the core contents.

Which viruses respond to the process?

Other viruses that cannot withstand the activated oxygen include, for example, polioviruses 1 and 2, human rotavirus, norwalk virus, parvoviruses and various hepatitis viruses, explains Dr. Burkhart.

The insights gained so far on the sterilization of the masks will hopefully help to improve protection against COVID-19 in practice, the expert emphasizes. The protection of people in healthcare and hospitals is particularly important, since these people are exposed to an increased risk of infection every day at work. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Craig G Burkhart: Ozone Disinfectants Like SoClean CPAP Sanitizer can be used to Sterilize Cloth and n95 Masks in the Protection against COVID-19, in The Open Dermatology Journal (Published Apr 27, 2020, Volume 14, Page 14), The Open Dermatology Journal

Video: How to wash your reusable face mask (December 2022).