One of the most common questions we receive at Vital Supply Store is “are KN95 masks reusable?”
The quick answer is “Yes!”
Although KN95 masks are designed to be used for short periods of time, they can be reused—if you take a few extra measures.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about reusing KN95 masks and share some helpful tips on how you can safely and effectively wear your masks multiple times.
Can You Wash A KN95 Mask?
KN95 masks should not be washed. Cloth masks can be washed after use or if soiled, but KN95s are designed to be used for shorter durations. When KN95 masks become soiled, they should be discarded instead of washed.
Washing your KN95 mask by hand or machine will damage the specially designed fabric layers and reduce its effectiveness at filtrating harmful particles. Even spraying your KN95 mask with disinfectant or wiping it down with alcohol wipes can cause damage to the filtration layers.
Microwaving is another method that should never be used to sanitize your KN95 masks. Not only does this method damage the mask, it may also cause personal injury and property damage. If microwaved, the mask’s aluminum nose bridge could cause a spark that ignites the fabric and starts a fire.
The most reliable and effective way to sanitize your used (but unsoiled) KN95 mask is to simply hang it in a dry location for 24-48 hours. Then you can continue to rotate your KN95 masks until it’s time to discard them.
When Should I Discard And Replace My Used KN95 Mask?
Although KN95 masks cannot be washed for continuous reuse, they can be used more than once. However, KN95 masks do lose their effectiveness over time and in certain situations.
If you’re unsure when to discard and replace your KN95 mask, here are a few of the signs:
- Your KN95’s ear straps are so loose that the mask no longer fits snugly over your nose, mouth and chin
- Your KN95 mask becomes damp or wet
- Your KN95 mask is visibly soiled or stained
- Your KN95 mask’s fabric is torn, frayed or damaged
All of these signs indicate that a KN95 mask has dutifully served its intended purpose. Now it’s time to discard the well-used mask and add a new one to your rotation.
Does a KN95 Mask Have An Expiration Date?
KN95 masks have an expiration date, just like vaccines, testing kits and other tools used in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants.
Over time, the elasticity of the ear loops degrades. Even though a KN95 is unopened and unused, the ear loops may not provide a tight fit if they’re beyond the expiration date.
The expiration date also serves as an identifier of the mask’s legitimacy. Only authentic KN95 masks are manufactured with an expiration date. If an expiration date is missing from the packaging, then it’s a clear sign that the mask is inauthentic—and ineffective.
And remember, an unexpired KN95 mask’s lifespan also depends on proper storage and handling as described above.
How Can I Extend The Use Of My KN95 Mask?
Every time you use a KN95 mask, its lifespan decreases. Yet, there are steps you can take to maximize the use of your masks.
#1. Handle the ear loops gently
It’s time to discard a mask when loose ear loops cause poor fitting. To help prevent your ear loops from loosening too quickly, do not remove your mask by roughly tugging the mask from the nose and mouth piece. This causes the ear loops to stretch too far, so the mask starts to slip and the fit is compromised.
Instead, you should remove the mask by holding the edge of the chin area with one hand while gently removing the loop from one ear. Then, with your hand still holding the mask’s chin edge, gently remove the second loop from the other ear. Using this method helps retain the elasticity of the ear loops, ensures a proper fit and extends the life of your mask.
#2. Avoid touching the center of the mask
Another way to extend the lifespan of your KN95 mask is proper handling. To reduce the risk of damaging or soiling your KN95 mask, avoid touching the nose or mouth areas. This is especially important when wearing the mask.
When dirty hands come into contact with the front of the mask, they can degrade its effectiveness. Handling the mask by the edges or the loops helps reduce the risk of soiling or contaminating the exterior and interior of the nose and mouth areas.
#3. Store the mask properly
As we previously mentioned, storing your used mask in a dry place after use sanitizes it and extends its life. While it’s easy to find an appropriate spot at home, it’s a bit more challenging when you’re on the road or at work.
Tossing your used mask on a desk, car seat or any other unsanitary surface is a surefire way to damage, soil and contaminate your mask. When a cool dry location isn’t available, you should store your used mask in a brown paper sandwich bag until you return home. This storage solution helps keep your mask clean, prevents it from contacting unsanitary surfaces, and minimizes the risk of damage.
Prolong Use With The Right Mask
Ultimately, KN95 masks can be reused as long as you follow the recommended caring, storing and handling tips—and you purchase authentic KN95 masks.
You’ll be happy to know that all of Vital Supply Store’s authentic KN95 masks meet the CDC’s recommendations for five layers of non-woven fabric as well as GB2626-2019 standards for mask production.
With Vital Supply Store, you’ll be able to reuse your KN95 masks with confidence!