3:17 PM PST, January 12, 2022
The Centers for Disease Control is considering recommending people wear KN95 or N95 masks, which offer the best protection against the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
And the good news is, they last longer than you’d think.
Dr. Jack Caravanos from NYU’s School of Public Health says an N95 mask can work for about five days to a week without replacing or disinfecting it.
In order to disinfect it, Caravanos says you can steam it with hot water for a few minutes.
A KN95 mask can also be worn for five days and disinfected the same way.
But those popular surgical masks are good for just one day. And when they get wet or dirty, they should be disposed of immediately.
Dr. Anthony Fauci wore a KN95 mask at a Senate hearing Tuesday, while some of his colleagues, including CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chose to double-mask with a cloth mask over a KN95 mask.
“What the cloth mask does is add another layer of protection, but it also holds the surgical mask in place. And you can see this is a much better fit,” Caravanos said.
A simple way to test your N95 or KN95 mask is by seeing if it holds water without dripping out, unlike a cloth mask, which does not hold water.
The CDC says about 60% of imported masks are actually counterfeit.