CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Highly sought-after N95 masks can be effectively sanitized of coronavirus using the dry heat of a common electric cooker, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Engineering professors Thanh “Helen” Nguyen and Vishal Verma found simply placing an N95 mask in an electric cooker like an Intant Pot or rice cooker set to 100 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes can decontaminate it inside and out without affecting the size or filtration.
Researchers said the N95 masks are considered the “gold standard” of personal protective equipment in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and such a simple method could help health care workers and first responders get more use out of limited supplies.
“A cloth mask or surgical mask protects others from droplets the wearer might expel, but a respirator mask protects the wearer by filtering out smaller particles that might carry the virus,” Nguyen said in a statement.
Through their testing, researchers found they could decontaminate the masks up to 20 times in an electric cooker without affecting the fit or filtration.
They also outlined their method for decontaminating a mask in a video and a post on the U of I’s website.