Surgical masks can be washed and reused up to 10 times, science confirms

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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According to this additional analysis, surgical masks can be reused up to 10 times by cleaning them between each use.

According to this additional analysis, surgical masks can be reused up to 10 times 

We broke up a year ago, when French researchers tried washing surgical masks up to 10 times at 60 ° C, using detergent. Then they noticed how the filtering capacity remained high.

Now comes the confirmation from their further analysis published in the scientific journal Chemosphere by the clinical research center of the University Hospital of Grenoble, in France: the surgical masks can be washed and reused up to 10 times.

Read also: The Ffp2 masks can be washed and reused up to 10 times. The French test

The need for personal protective equipment has increased exponentially in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To address the shortage of masks during the spring of 2020, many scientists found ways to reuse masks in health departments.

It was then that the necessary balance was struck between cleaning medical masks in order to maintain their safety and functionality for reuse, with the environmental benefit of handling single-use medical waste.

According to the new study, type IIR polypropylene medical masks can be washed up to 10 times: the researchers have shown, after a year and a half of laboratory tests, that surgical polypropylene masks they can be washed up to 10 times in the washing machine while maintaining their performance superior to category 1 fabric masks, with a capacity to filter bacteria higher than 98% against 90%.

However, scholars find a loss of anti-projection properties.

The workflow - the study reads - has made medical masks compliant with the AFNOR S76-001 standard as “type 1 masks for non-medical use”. This qualification gives a legal status to masks treated in laboratory tests and allows reuse of washed medical masks by the general population, with the significant public health benefit of providing better protection than cloth masks.

Furthermore, this legal status provides a basis for carrying out a clinical trial to test the masks in real conditions, in full compliance with the EN 14683 standard, for collective reuse. The rational reuse of medical masks and their end-of-life management is essential, especially in pandemic periods when decisive turning points can be taken. Reusing face masks in the general population, in industries or hospitals (but not for surgery) has significant benefits for waste management without putting people's safety at risk.


What many do not know is that the waste generated by the masks has even surpassed the plastic bags becoming the most frequent waste present in the environment. Waste that is added to other waste, in an increasingly harmful vicious circle.

Also read: Disposable school surgical masks will produce 44 tons of waste every day

Solution? This French study also shared by the WHO confirms the interest in reusing masks. Let's try to wash them and use them several times. The French propose a simple rule: throw away the mask when it appears damaged and when some fluff appears that can be delayed by washing the mask in a closed pillowcase.


However - they conclude - the appearance of hair is the sign that the mask is to be thrown away even if its filtering properties remain effective, we read in the study.

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Fonte: Chemosphere 

Read also: 

  • What happens if you wash the surgical masks after using them, according to a new French test
  •  Can surgical masks be machine washed?
  • Cloth masks should be washed every day (otherwise they won't work). I study
  • Masks the new nightmare for the environment: in just 1 year, they are the most abandoned plastic waste
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