Keeping your respirator clean and maintained will ensure that you have the highest level of safety. This means increased protection. You will also extend the life of your respirator by keeping it properly maintained. Respirator masks should be cleaned after each use. This will decrease your chances of being contaminated or inhaling hazardous debris.
There is a recommended method for cleaning reusable respirator masks. You will need to remove any filters or cartridges that are attached to the mask. You will then want to clean the respirator face piece in warm cleaning solution. You can also used a pre-packaged cleaning wipe that is made especially for respirators. If using water, the temperature should not exceed 120 F. A soft brush will clean a mask adequately. A neutral detergent can be added if necessary.
It is advised not to use cleaners that contain lanolin and other oils. The face piece should be disinfected in a quaternary ammonia solution or sodium hypochlorite solution. Household bleach is also a great disinfectant. Rinse your respirator in warm water. It then will need to air dry in a non-contaminated atmosphere. After your respirator is clean, it will need to be stored in a respirator storage bag away from any type of contamination.
If you have a disposable dust mask or particulate respirator, it is not designed to be cleaned. They need to be disposed of, due to their cloth style construction. They can’t be cleaned if wet or damaged. Make sure not to dispose of this type of respirator too early. It is ok if the outer shell is slightly soiled. The mask can be used as long as the inside of the respirator mask is clean. As long as breathing is not difficult, they can continue to be used. Never attempt to clean disposable respirators with detergents or compressed air. This will damage the mask. Disposable means just that. Do not try to salvage it. Just throw it away and start new when the one you are wearing is worn out and soiled.
It is imperative for your health and safety that your respirator mask be cleaned after every use. You do not want a build-up of debris and bacteria when you put it on for the next use. Cleaning is very easy and does not take a lot of time. Once you are in the habit of cleaning, it is something you will do automatically.
When respirator masks are required in the workplace, employers need to make sure that every employee can demonstrate the proper training knowledge when it comes to cleaning and wearing respirator masks. If they are not cleaned and worn properly, it significantly reduces the safety components. All PPE needs to be worn to meet OSHA regulations.