Is it safe to sterilize a face mask in a microwave? People are getting creative when making homemade face masks. There are even templates, patterns, and tutorials that are available online. However, one of the concerns of people is how to sterilize their face masks after use. Suggestions range from spraying the masks with disinfectant to sterilizing it a microwave.
Is it safe to sterilize a face mask in a microwave? No, it is not ideal to sterilize face masks in a microwave. According to research done by Smart Air, “Microwaving contaminated objects at 600 watts for 3 minutes deactivates viruses. However, microwaving masks isn’t recommended if it requires removing metal parts. Microwaving masks may also cause masks to melt or even catch on fire, so it is dangerous!”
This article does not contain any product recommendations. If you are interested in purchasing face masks, here’s our buying guide with products.
Aside from the risk of fire, you also need to consider the material of the face mask. Light materials can easily get damaged, which can affect the performance of the face mask. Check out the rest of the article below for more information about the dangers of sterilizing face masks in a microwave.
Microwaving Face Masks Can Cause Fire
Using the microwave to sterilize a face mask can cause a fire. One suggestion that has been shared on Facebook and went viral is for those who are using fabric face masks. According to the post, “Those that use a fabric mask – after wearing place in a ziplock bag and microwave 2-3 minutes to sanitize. Do this after each wear.”
While it may seem reasonable to kill the virus by microwaving the face mask, the truth is that it is dangerous because the cloth can burst into flame. According to the Las Vegas Fire Department, “Reports of fires starting across the country in microwave ovens after people put their face masks in them to sterilize them. Never put anything in a microwave oven that is not recommended on the packaging. That includes face masks.”
The New Hampshire State Fire Marshall Office also urges the locals not to use microwaves when sterilizing face masks. They have posted two photos on their Facebook page of charred face masks, which said to have come from residents who tried using the microwave to sterilize their masks.
✅ Photo – Post from the NH State Fire Marshall Facebook Page
The NH State Fire Marshal’s Office posted photos of two burned face masks. They also warned people that microwaving face masks to kill germs is a fire hazard. The face masks can overheat and catch fire. Disposable masks also have a metal nose wire that can cause a spark.
Officials Warn the Public about Fire Hazards
Health officials are strongly advising the general public against sterilizing face masks in a microwave. One of the many safety organizations that have warned about the potential fire risk, especially with face masks that contain plastics, metals, and flammable inks, is the Greene County Office of Emergency Management in Tennessee. According to Heather Site, the emergency management director for Greene County, “All they were doing was setting them on fire. We had also heard of people putting them in plastic bag things like that, so of course, that was just causing another hazard.”
The Colorado River Fire Rescue also posted on their Facebook account, telling people not to place any face masks in the microwave for any amount of time. They also added that “There’s no evidence that microwaving a face mask will sanitize it properly.”
✅ Photo – Post from the Colorado River Fire Rescue Facebook Page
The Colorado River Fire Rescue posted on their Facebook page about the proper way to clean and sanitize cloth face masks. They included three main reasons why it is dangerous to place any face mask in a microwave for any amount of time. These reasons are: There is no evidence that microwaving a face mask will sanitize it properly, a medical-grade face mask will likely degrade, which makes it less effective, and any metal or man-made materials in a face mask will catch fire in the microwave.
Microwaving Can Damage the Face Mask
Face masks have various materials that can easily get damaged when sterilized in a microwave. For instance, a 3M N95 mask has metal clips and nose bars that can easily catch a spark and catch fire. Removing the metal bits will make the mask unusable, and you may end up having to destroy it before it gets into the microwave.
Other face masks do not have metal clips like homemade cloth face covers. However, some materials or fabrics are also flammable and can quickly spark while inside the microwave. It is best to avoid using this method when sterilizing the face mask. After all, there are no studies that prove that microwaving face masks will kill Coronavirus.
Fire Departments Warn of the Dangers of Sterilizing Face Masks on a Microwave
Fire departments all across the country are warning people of the dangers that can come from sterilizing face masks. Some masks contain metal which is a fire hazard. Also, leaving the face mask in the microwave for some time can cause the material to overheat and catch fire. Below are some of the reports posted by fire departments on their social media account.
✅ Photo – Tweet from the Arlington Fire Department
The Arlington Fire Department shared a tweet warning people not to place face masks in the microwave for any amount of time.
✅ Photo – Posted by the Madison Fire Department
The Madison Fire Department posted on their Twitter page a warning that reads “SAFETY TIP: Do not microwave your homemade masks. This is a fire hazard, especially if your mask has metal inside.”
✅ Photo – Tweet by the Reading Fire Local 1640
The Reading Fire Local warned people that microwaving a face mask can cause the microwave to catch fire!
✅ Photo – Posted by the Las Vegas Fire Department on Twitter
The Las Vegas Fire Department shared on their twitter account about reports of fire starting across the country because people are putting their face masks on microwaves to sterilize them. They warned never to put anything in the microwave that is not recommended on the packaging.
How Do I Sterilize Face Masks?
The CDC recommends sterilizing face masks using a detergent in a washing machine. Face masks could also be hand washed with detergent and hot water. Wash the face mask after every use and make sure to dispose of filter inserts properly. You can also use other methods like boiling the mask or soaking in hot water.
You can also check out this article that tackles how to sterilize a face mask. We have shared different ways to properly sterilize a face mask. Moreover, we have listed some methods that you need to avoid when sterilizing the mask. Check out the article for more information.
Can I Use Bleach to Sterilize a Face Mask?
Choose a disinfectant according to the fabric of the face mask. While bleach or chlorine makes an excellent disinfectant, it can also weaken and discolor fabrics when not used properly. Make sure that you read the product labels and carefully follow directions when using any disinfecting products.
Avoid using bleach or other chemical cleaning solutions if you have an existing health issue, especially those who have a respiratory illness. The smell of chemicals can linger on the face mask, and this can cause health issues when inhaled.
How to Wash a Reusable Face Mask?
Wash the face mask properly to make sure that it is thoroughly clean. It is ideal for washing face masks after every use. You can wash the face masks by hand or with the use of a machine. Below are some tips provided by the National Jewish Health when cleaning face masks.
- Take the mask off from the straps (not touching the front), loosely knot the ties together, place in a pillowcase or laundry bag to keep the ties with the mask if you have it.
- Wash it in the washing machine with hot water and completely dry on medium or high heat.
We have also written this article that tackles the best washable reusable face masks. We have gathered a list of the best products that you can choose from.
You have reached the end of this post that tackles the dangers of sterilizing face masks in a microwave. Simply put, sterilizing a face mask in a microwave is dangerous. While you need to make sure that your face masks are clean and adequately disinfected, avoid using dangerous methods. Sterilizing face masks in a microwave can cause fire, especially when it has metal parts that can easily catch a spark. Also, no proof sterilizing face masks in a microwave can kill Coronavirus. Thank you for reading and stay safe!