Kill Covid-19 pathogen - So disinfect face masks properly

Kill Covid-19 pathogen - So disinfect face masks properly

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To reuse face masks, they should be sterilized

In times of the corona pandemic, the German government “urgently” recommends wearing protective masks (so-called MNS masks - mouth and nose protection) in public space in order to minimize the spread of Covid-19 pathogens. However, because there are not enough masks to buy, hygiene measures should be strictly observed when reusing.

Hygiene measures also for private use

Because not enough mouth-nose protection masks (MNS) and respirator masks “Filtering Face Piece” (FFP) can be purchased, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has information on possible “measures for resource-saving use of mouth-nose Protection (MNS) and FFP masks ”, from which hygienic information for private use can also be derived.

In principle, the masks are designed so that they can only be used once. It is therefore important to know which hygienic measures are necessary when using again so that mouth-nose protection masks are of more use than harm.

This is important to remember when reusing protective masks:

  • The mask has to be removed in such a way that contamination of the mask (especially the inside) or contamination of the face is prevented, e.g. through a previous glove disinfection.
  • After the mask has been removed, it should be kept dry in the air (not in closed containers!) And stored temporarily, so that contamination of the inside of the mask / MNS and spreading to other surfaces are avoided.
  • Discard the gloves after storing the masks and disinfect your hands.
  • The used mask should only be worn by one person. In households, therefore, the name e.g. write on the strap of the carrier.
  • Do not clean or disinfect used disposable masks with disinfectant, as this can negatively affect the functionality of the mask.
  • When putting the mask back on, ensure that the pathogens are not spread from the contaminated outer surface to the inner surface. Touching the inside of the filter fleece should therefore be avoided.
  • When putting it on again, wear hygienically perfect, unused gloves and dispose of the gloves before contacting the patient again.
  • Do not use masks whose inner surface may have been contaminated by handling errors.
  • Disinfect the place where the intermediate storage takes place immediately after removing the mask.

Sterilize masks: oven, microwave or washing machine?

On the Internet, tricks for cleaning self-made masks are often given in tabloid media. It is advisable to heat the masks in the microwave or to sterilize them in the oven. But are these tricks actually effective in killing Sars-CoV-2?

Virologist Christian Drosten from the Charité in Berlin considers the idea to be feasible in the daily Corona update on NDR Info. If the masks 70 degrees in the oven heated, it could be enough to kill the virus. However, this only applies to cellulosics in a mouth-nose mask. You can use FFP masks in the oven Not sterilize as the plastic filter melts at such high temperatures. Even sewn masks made of cotton can, according to the virologist 60 degrees in the washing machine getting washed.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Robert Koch Institute: Possible measures for resource-conserving use of mouth and nose protection (MNS) and FFP masks in healthcare facilities in the event of delivery bottlenecks in connection with the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 (as of April 14, 2020) , RKI
  • NDR Corona Virus Update with Christian Drosten: Masks can protect others, NDR Info

Video: MSU develops new way to clean, reuse N95 masks (August 2022).