mask cleaning and maintenance

Unfortunately too often neglected, the maintenance and cleaning of respiratory protection masks are essential to their proper functioning and ensure maximum safety level of. In this article, find good reflexes and good practices for the maintenance and upkeep of your respiratory protection equipment.

Cleaning respiratory protection masks

The face piece of a respirator (gas mask half mask, full face mask or hood) is the most sensitive part of the equipment because it is in intimate contact with the breathing user. Over time and repeated use, this part can become dirty and contaminated with dust, condensation, sweat, and even bacteria.

Regular cleaning of the mask in addition to maintenance and annual control is a matter of hygiene, it aims to:

  • Eliminate dust, dirt and bacteria accumulation
  • Prevent fungi appearance
  • Reduce device renewal costs
  • Preserve the protective performance of the equipment
  • Assure the user that the mask is clean and healthy

Mask cleaning with disinfectant wipes

At least, a mask cleaning can be carried out with water and with a non-aggressive detergent solution (based on the manufacturer’s recommendations) or using suitable disinfectant wipes. However, this practice has some drawbacks: it requires very close attention to the expiratory valves and mask sealing, but above all it does not guarantee complete disinfection of the mask in each corner.

Good mask cleaning practices

More complex to implement, the good practice for cleaning PPE masks consists of several stages ranging from washing with high water to bagging the mask after washing and disinfection. Once the mask has been washed with large amounts of water, it is then placed in a dedicated washing machine using a specific cleaning and disinfecting product with a suitable temperature program for perfect cleanliness and hygiene. It is then dried at temperature to ensure any germ or bacteria elimination. After drying, it is individually seal-packed proving that it is healthy and suitable for use.

Practices to proscribe

Some reflexes and unwise advice encourage cleaning techniques that can be harmful to a PPE mask, such as for example using aggressive detergents, talc or window cleaning products for the visor. These products are to be avoided because they present risks of skin transmission, inhalation, as well as materials deterioration. If the mask is washed by hand, it is important to proceed with delicacy to avoid damaging the fragile elements of the mask such as the sealing skirt, panoramic visor, exhalation valve or the phonic membrane.

Also note that gas mask filters are not cleanable, a passage in water would make them unusable. Likewise, a filter cartridge dismantling and “dusting” cleaning of would irreversibly affect its filtration capacity. In case of doubt it is important to consult maintenance recommendations detailed in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Periodic control of respiratory protective equipment

Gas masks, PAPRs (powered air purifying respirators), supplied air respirators and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) are class III personal protective equipment. The 1993 March 19 decree, imposes a category III PPE periodic inspection and control once a year - by an approved maintenance center - in order to verify their proper functioning.

Air purifying respiratory protection devices periodic control

  Gas mask Powered air purifying respirator
Before use

Verification of the general condition, cleanliness and date of control of the device

Installation of new filters adapted and not expired


Battery status check

Air flow control

After use

Disposal or storage of filter cartridges

Cleaning and disinfection of the face piece

  Battery charge
Each year Periodic inspection and verification by an approved maintenance center
Each 4 or 6 years* Replacement of expiratory & phonic membranes and seals
  Battery change

* Following manufacturer’s recommendations

Self-contained breathing apparatus & supplied air systems periodic inspection


Appareil à adduction d’air

Appareil respiratoire isolant (ARI)

Before use

Verification of the general condition, cleanliness and date of control of the device

Leak test and operation

After use

Cleaning and disinfection of the face piece and the valve on demand

Visual inspection, function and tightness control

Each 6 months

On-demand valve control

Each 12 months

Periodic inspection and verification by an approved maintenance center

Air supply source inspection (EN12021)

Compressed air cylinder inspection (composite only)

Replacement of the sintered filter and the O-ring of the high pressure connector

Each 24 months

Reclassification of composite compressed air cylinders

Each 4 years

Periodic inspection of steel cylinders (by a specialist)

Replacement of the mask exhalation valve

Each 5 years

Compressed air cylinder valve overhaul

Each 6 years

Replacement of the masks’ diaphragm

Each 10 years

General control of the regulator

Requalification of steel cylinders

Respiratory protection equipment storage

Respiratory protection equipment (gas masks, powered air purifying respirators (PAPR), SCBA) storage is the logical continuity of maintenance and cleaning measures. They must be stored ready to use in clean and dry places in a dedicated cabinet or case. They must be stored protected from light, humidity, extreme temperatures indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions, shocks (that can cause deformation) and any pollutant (dust, oils, chemicals, etc. ) that can lead to plastics and overall performance degradation.

Respiratory protective filters must be stored in compliance with the various manufacturers directives, and the expiration dates must be respected. Reusable in-use filters can be closed (cover provided for some models) - subject to having noted the expiration date when opening the filter - and placed in airtight bags for better performance conservation.

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