How to Reuse Your KN95 or N95 Mask Safely
It might be time to level up your mask game. With the highly contagious Omicron variant around, the CDC may soon recommend trading in your cloth masks for higher-quality KF94, N95, and KN95 masks, which feature several layers of filtration to block up to 95 percent of particles from reaching your mouth and nose.
The downside to these highly protective masks is that they're not quite as reusable as cloth masks, which can be washed and reworn time and time again. And since they're often priced at about $1 to $2 per mask (and prices are on the rise), replacing your N95 or KN95 mask every time you're out and about can start impacting your finances—even while it's protecting your overall health.
Fortunately, you can safely reuse your N95 and KN95 masks for a while before it's time to toss them out. "The filter material is so high performing that even with 40 hours of use, I haven't seen issues with filtration," says Aaron Collins, a mechanical engineer who runs the Mask Nerd YouTube channel, posting videos of mask aerosol tests and other mask fit information. "Even after loading the mask with aerosol, they're still high performing."
But there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind to help you get the most out of every mask—and keep yourself as safe as possible.