Taiwan Has a Brilliant Life Hack to Disinfect Face Masks Using Rice Cookers
With protective face masks in short supply due to the growing demand worldwide, any hack to effectively prolong the use of one mask could go a long way.
In Taiwan, local officials shared how to reuse a mask multiple times by disinfecting it with a rice cooker, Taiwan News reports.
If you own a rice cooker, Taiwan’s FDA made a PSA stating that you can put your disposable PPE or mask in your rice cooker (with no water) and set it to steam for three minutes to sterilize it and re-use.
During a press conference over the weekend, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) demonstrated how to use a rice cooker to disinfect a mask.
In a light moment, Chen fumbled a bit after Wu instructed him to place the metal rack at the bottom of the cooker. Chen can be seen placing it at the bottom of the metal pot, which prompted Wu to joke that the minister apparently has never used a rice cooker before.
As the audience erupted in laughter, Wu then directed Chen to first place the metal rack inside the cooker before putting the metal pot in.
A couple of caveats: do not reuse if soiled or torn. For disposable surgical masks this process can be done about 3-4 times. Cloth masks for longer obviously.
Chen was then asked to insert a mask inside the metal pot and then put the cooker’s lid to cover it. Wu drew more laughter from the crowd as she reminded users to remember plugging in the rice cooker for it to work.
When Wu finally asked Chen to press the “cook” button, he had a difficult time locating the correct button. After being guided by Wu, Chen was able to eventually switch the cooker on with the light indicator showing that it had begun cooking its contents.
According to Wu, the cooking cycle will finish after three minutes, which would prompt the rice cooker’s button to pop back up.
She then advised her audience to let the mask sit inside for another five minutes before taking it out to complete the disinfection process.
Wu warned the public against placing water inside the cooker during the process as it will damage the mask. She also noted that using a rice cooker to disinfect masks is better than spraying disinfectant as this method could damage the mask’s electrostatic layer.
According to Wu, surgical face masks can be disinfected using the rice cooker method for up to “four or five times” based on research conducted by the FDA.
Based on its findings, the bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of the masks can be maintained at a level of 99% even after dry heating them five times.
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