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NH fire marshal: Don’t microwave face masks

The New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office explained proper methods for sterilizing face masks while warning that microwaving them can start fires


Rebeka Humbrecht
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

CONCORD, N.H. — As people scramble to sanitize and stay safe, some have turned to microwaving their face coverings to clean them. Firefighters warn that this could end badly.

In a Facebook post from the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office, they warn against microwaving masks in an attempt to kill germs.

The post was accompanied by pictures of burned fabric face masks, but the office advises against the practice for all masks.

The office warns residents: “Cloth masks can overheat quickly and catch fire. Disposable masks also have a metal nose wire and can cause sparks, a fire, and/or break your microwave.”

When using a cloth face covering, the CDC recommends that they be washed regularly in a washing machine. The New York State Department of Health offers a similar warning, stating that masks should be washed and frequently changed, particularly if wet.

For surgical-style face masks, the CDC warns that, generally, these masks are for a single use. If washed, the mask will likely be damaged. They can, however, be sanitized using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI).

N95 and KN95 face masks also cannot be washed with soap and water. Instead, the CDC recommends hanging used masks or putting them in a breathable container between uses. Make sure that your mask never touches anyone else’s and is only worn by yourself, the CDC says.

When you put on and take off the mask, make sure your hands are cleaned with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, the CDC advises.


©2020 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.