Personal protective equipment (PPE) keeps healthcare providers safe and shields them from bacteria transmission and illness. Present in every medical setting and even at home, this equipment is essential for administering safe care practices. But having reliable PPE is only half the battle; knowing how to clean and store personal protective equipment is necessary for maintaining and keeping it reusable.
Gloves of any material are single-use; this equipment should undergo prompt disposal measures as soon as you remove them after a task to avoid the transmission of bloodborne pathogens and bacteria.
Depending on the material of the mask, a provider may be able to clean and reuse a face mask.
- Surgical Masks: These face coverings should not undergo washing; you should discard all surgical masks that are wet from sweat or contaminated from the aerosols of a cough. To store this type of mask, wash your hands with mild soap and water, then store the face covering in a breathable container and rewash your hands.
- N95 Respirators: You can follow the same procedure for these respirators as you would for surgical masks.
- Homemade Masks: While homemade masks are not a usual piece of equipment in the healthcare setting, you might be able to wear one over an N95 respirator. In this case, homemade masks should undergo washing after every use and be stored in a clean container.
Goggles and Face Shields
Unlike most masks, goggles and face shields are completely washable and reusable. Start with putting on disposable gloves. Upon removal of the PPE, wipe the inside of the goggles and face shield with a clean cloth and mild detergent.
Wipe the outside surface of your goggles with a wipe and neutral detergent. Afterward, wipe the entire apparatus with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Allow to dry and store in a clean area. Remove your gloves and wash your hands to complete the task.
Hospital Gowns and Lab Coats
As long as they follow proper cleaning measures, providers and assistants can launder and reuse cloth gowns and lab coats. After putting on gloves, wash the garments using the warmest setting on your machine and soap.
Then, remove your gloves and dry the garment on the hottest setting. Check the garment for tears and place it in a clean container or area.
Knowing how to clean and store personal protective equipment maintains apparatuses so that you can continue fulfilling responsibilities with everyone’s health in mind.