Heat up your rice cooker and clean your masks!
According to a team of American researchers, electric cookers can be used to effectively clean N95 masks, worn to protect the wearer from COVID-19. A look at how it works.
More environmentally friendly than disposable masks, fabric masks can be reworn several times, as long as they are cleaned regularly. As wearing a mask is increasingly becoming the new normal almost everywhere, including in many outdoor locations, it’s therefore important to carefully follow the guidelines so that the mask provides optimal protection.
Health authorities advise washing the mask using a hot cycle (such as 60 C) for at least 30 minutes. However researchers from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign are proposing a solution that you probably haven’t considered: the electric multicooker. These ultra-practical kitchen appliances, like rice cookers or Instant Pots, can be repurposed for cleaning certain types of masks, outline the study authors.
Experiments using N95 masks
The researchers conducted their tests on N95 masks, which are comparable to the FFP2 respirator-style masks used in Europe. These masks protect the wearer by filtering out the smallest particles that could be carrying COVID-19. The method tested functions due to the use of a dry heat cooking cycle that maintains the contents of the cooker at 100 degrees Celsius during 50 minutes and allows for decontamination of the masks inside and out. The results of the tests are explained in detail in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.
“The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer’s face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker,” explained Vishal Verma, a professor in civil and environmental engineering who co-led the study.
The study only tested N95 masks, meaning it didn’t conduct any research on the mass market fabric or surgical masks. However, the researchers believe that this technique could be useful for healthcare personnel whose work requires them to wear N95 masks. As long as they have an electric cooker at home, that is. CL
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