Fact Check: Experts warn against sanitizing fabric masks in microwave; the viral post is fake
- By Vishvas News
- Updated: April 11, 2020
A post doing rounds on social media claims that after using fabric masks sanitize them by microwaving it for 2-3 minutes. The viral post is fake.
The viral post on Facebook shared by a user named Loni Martin reads: Those that use a fabric mask – after wearing place in ziplock bag and microwave 2-3 minutes to sanitize. Do this after each wear. The archived version of the post can be checked here.
Vishvas News started its investigation by going through various reports on how to sterilize/ clean cloth masks. On the website of Centers of Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC), we found that cloth face coverings should be washed depending on the frequency of use. Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that masks should be microwaved in order to get sanitized.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) recommends certain ways to sanitize homemade face covers:
How to Clean and Sanitize your Homemade Face Cover Everyday
- Thoroughly wash the face cover in soap and warm water and leave it to dry in hot sun for at least 5 hours. If you do not have access to the sun, follow Option 2:
- Place the face cover in water in a pressure cooker and pressure boil it for at least 10 minutes and leave it to dry. Adding salt to the water is recommended. In the absence of a pressure cooker, you may boil the cloth face cover in hot water for 15 minutes.
- Wash and clean with soap and apply heat on the face cover for up to five minutes. (You may use an iron).
The report further suggests: Homemade reusable face covers only reduce the chances of inhaling droplets still in the air from an infected person, they do not give full protection. Homemade reusable face covers must be washed and cleaned each day, as instructed. Reuse without washing should NEVER be done. Never share your face cover with anyone. Social distancing must still be maintained. Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap for 20 seconds.
Nowhere it has been recommended to directly microwave the fabric masks for 2-3 minutes to sanitize.
Microwave settings are not standard. This is not easy to determine the strength of each microwave. Moreover, some face masks have a metal noseband, which will not be safe to place in microwave and heat.
Colorado River Fire Rescue also mentions on its Facebook page not to put masks in the microwave to sanitize.
As per a report by Reuters, face masks catch fire when microwaved.
Vishvas News spoke to Dr. Nikhil Modi who is a Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. He said: “Firstly, one should avoid reusing fabric masks. However, if reused then only specific methods for sterilisation is recommended, microwaving masks is not among them. Fabric mask is resued, should be properly washed with soap and water. Then, it should be in sunlight for some hours before reuse.”
We also spoke to Devesh Sachdeva of Medilife India which is a
Pharmaceutical Manufacturer. “He also refuted the claim by saying: Fabri masks should not be heated for microwave. If someone wishes to reuse it, masks should be washed properly using soap and water.”
The viral post is shared on Facebook by a user named Loni Martin. When we performed social scanning of the user we found that she hails in British Columbia.
Disclaimer: The #CoronavirusFacts database records fact-checks published since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic and its consequences are constantly evolving and data that was accurate weeks or even days ago might have changed. Remember to check the date when the fact-check you are reading was published before sharing it.
Conclusion: Fabric masks should not be sanitized by microwaving it for 2-3 minutes. Instead, they should be washed properly using soap and water.
- Claim Review : Fabric masks sanitize them by microwaving it for 2-3 minutes
- Claimed By : FB User: Loni Martin
- Fact Check : False
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