How to Clean Your Respirator Mask

Taking care of your respirator is simple stuff, but it can have a big impact on your health and safety at work. In this post we’re going to explain the best way to keep your non-disposable respirator clean and how to prolong the life of your cartridges.

Cleaning Your Respirator

Most people never clean their respirators. Why? Maybe they love germs. Or accumulated grime. Or maybe, like me, they just wipe it out with a rag occasionally and keep working. Hey, I’ll do it right from now on.

Masks like the 3M 7500 Half Facepiece Respirator or the Moldex 9000 Full Face Respirator are worn to protect workers from dangerous atmospheres, and properly cared for, they will continue doing that for quite some time. However, if you’re wearing a mask, chances are you’re not working in the cleanest of environments and they need to be washed to remove any residue occasionally.

To clean your respirator, first wash your hands. You don’t want to take out the dirt and replace it with the paint or chemicals you’ve been working with. Next disassemble the respirator. If you’re not sure how to do it, check the written instructions that came with the mask. Make sure you don’t lose any seals or washers that may be in place with the cartridges.

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: You can’t wash your cartridges. If you have cartridges with rigid exteriors, you can wipe the dirt or over-spray off. But make sure you set them to the side when you are washing. More on care for cartridges soon.

Next, hand wash the respirator facepiece in warm water. Use a disinfectant soap. Check with the manufacturer to see if there are recommended brands. Allegro sells individually-wrapped respirator cleaning wipes that can be used for everyday quick cleaning. And they also sell cleaning kits that can be used if you have lot of respirators to clean on a regular basis.

After you have cleaned the respirator and all the parts, let them air-dry before reassembly.

The other important thing to remember about caring for your respirator is keeping your respirator and cartridges stored correctly. Sunlight, dust, extremes of both heat and cold, and chemicals can have a negative impact on the longevity of your mask.

Proper Storage of Respirators and Cartridges

Ideally the cartridges should be removed after each use and put in a zip-lock bag for storage. If you have a half-face mask, it will fit into a gallon-sized bag without having to take the cartridges off. Always store your mask away from the job site or any other chemicals.

It’s important to remember organic vapor cartridges like the 3M 6001 or a multi-gas cartridge like the Moldex 7600 Multi-Gas Vapor Smart Cartridges will continue to absorb any gas or vapor they are exposed to, even if a worker isn’t pulling air through mask.

As always, if you have any questions about your safety gear, respirators, cartridges or safety in general, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-829-9580 or contact us online at PKSafety.com

Thanks for reading.

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5 comments on “How to Clean Your Respirator Mask
  1. jeff says:

    Is it sanitary to share a cartridge from one millennium advantage 1000 respirator to another….(ie. germs/breath etc…).

    • Administrator says:

      Hi Jeff. Good question. We’d say it is sanitary. For one thing, the cartridges are filled with activated charcoal. It’s not holding germs. But more importantly, when you breath in there is a flap on the inside of your mask that allows the air in. When you breath out, that flap covers the cartridge air inlet, and the air goes out a different way. So in a perfect world, the cartridges are just experiencing incoming air, and don’t have contact with the outgoing breath.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Thanks for reading,

      Justin
      PK Safety Supply

  2. Jeff says:

    Thank you Justin.

  3. Jana says:

    Hi

    I have a respirator, and have never cleaned it. I am sooking it in warm water like you said. My respirator is a half face mask covers the nose, and mouth. I am wondering when you need to change the filters and cartridges and where I can go to get that done. I live in Calgary. Thanks

    • Justin McCarter says:

      Hi,

      It’s sure nice to have a clean respirator. You’ll notice the difference.

      As far as changing the filters and cartridges, it’s easy to do yourself. And they can be ordered from us and delivered right to you. Take a look at our blog post about when to change filters. The basic rule is you change filters when it becomes difficult to draw a breath through them (or when they become damaged), and you change your cartridges when you can smell the things you’re trying to block.

      Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks for writing.

      Justin
      PK Safety

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