Respirator Hygiene

Fall is notorious for bringing about the flu! With the changing of the seasons, workers need to protect themselves from getting sick. Although most workers will get their flu shot vaccination, they often overlook small details that can cause several days lost at work — respirators being one of them.

In all occupations it is important to keep the work area clean and respirators are no exception! By following these steps, you can help reduce time loss due to illness and help keep the safety community strong.

“The proper cleaning and maintenance of respirators is an important area that is commonly overlooked. All respiratory protection equipment needs to be in good condition to work effectively and to be able to supply the level of protection expected by the user.” -Peter Knott, Senior Occupational Hygienist, 3M

Peter Knott suggests that cleaning your half face respirator should be as follows:

  1. Remove the cartridges from the respirator
  2. Warm water container (such as a sink) to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Add cleaning solution (should not contain lanolin or other oils)
  4. Immerse respirator into the solution and begin to scrub gently until clean
  5. Empty sink or use a separate container to fill with warm water and add disinfecting solution
  6. Immerse respirator in solution for 3-5 minutes
  7. Rinse respirator with fresh running water
  8. Allow to air dry in a non-contaminated area
  9. Check respirator to ensure no damage
  10. Attach cartridges and store in a non-contaminated area

This cleaning method is the best way to properly ensure your respirator is fully disinfected. By following these steps routinely, you can help defend yourself from illness as we transition into cooler weather.

References: reusable-respirators.pdf