WARNING: Do NOT use the oven or microwave to sanitize masks. It is a fire hazard.
If you own an Instant Pot, rice cooker or any other electric cooker, you now have a way to sanitize your N95 respirator mask.
According to a study by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, if you apply 50 minutes of dry heat to your mask in an electric cooker, the N95 mask will be decontaminated inside and out while maintaining its filtration and fit.
Researchers said this method of sanitization could allow N95 mask wearers to safely reuse respirators that are originally intended for one-time use.
N95 respirator masks are one of the most-effective masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19 droplets and particles, according to U of I researchers.
“A cloth mask or surgical mask protects others from droplets the wearer might expel, but a respirator mask protects the wearer by filtering out smaller particles that might carry the virus,” U of I Professor Thanh “Helen” Nguyen said in a statement.
If you do utilize this method to sanitize your N95 respirator mask, the study suggests putting a towel inside of the cooker before placing your mask inside to separate it from the heat source at the bottom of the cooker.
One cooking cycle in the electric cooker at around 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes will decontaminate the mask from four different classes of viruses, including coronaviruses, researchers said.
Watch an instructional video from the University of Illinois explaining how to do the decontamination with an electric cooker:
The study was supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Do NOT use a microwave or oven to sanitize a face mask because it could be a serious fire hazard.
To learn more about the study, click here.