How to Clean Your Respirators
Keeping your respirator clean, if possible, will go a long way to ensuring your breathing safety. However, knowing which air respirators can be cleaned and which ones cannot is also important. The tips below will help you make the decision about whether to clean your respirator or throw it away.
Most air-purifying respirators are designed with a limited shelf-life. They can be used once of twice and then it is best to dispose of them. Basic face masks, like those used when visiting a hospital, are not designed for multiple uses. In fact, after the mask is worn for ten to fifteen minutes, it becomes saturated with the moisture from your breathing and is no longer effective. Throwing it away in a proper receptacle is essential.
Other air-purifying masks have small cartridges that filter the particulates and fumes from the air. These masks may or may not have replaceable cartridges that will save you from throwing them away. Check the manufacturer’s directions for the best way to replace your mask’s cartridge, as well as, the life span of a cartridge. If the cartridge cannot be replaced, it is best to throw the mask out after use, especially if it has been used in situation where the gases were particularly potent.
If you do a lot of painting, keep a supply of high-quality disposable masks on hand for your work. It may seem like a waste of equipment and money, but it is better to make sure that the air you are breathing in is healthy and beneficial to your body. Unclean air can create havoc on your respiratory system, so always take proper precautions.
Supplied Air Respirators
Since most supplied air respirators are used in highly volatile situations, cleaning the respirator after use is not something that a lay person would do. It requires specialized training and handling to be able to clean such an apparatus. Unless you are with a hazardous materials clean-up crew, there is no need to worry about cleaning a supplied air respirator. This is not the type of mask that most home painters and repair people will normally encounter in their daily interactions.
Another type of respirator that is not normally encountered during household work is a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). This type of equipment is most often used in SCuBA diving and is not seen in any sort of home use. There are certain cleaning methods that are appropriate for this type of respirator, but again, they are more involved than what is needed for home painting.
Taking care of your respirator means using the right one for the job. It requires you to be aware of the types of vapors, gases and particulates that you will be exposed to during the job. If you have any questions about the type of respirator that is right for your particular situation, consult someone at your local paint store or home improvement shop for advice. They can help you select the right respirator and even give you tips for cleaning and storing it if possible.