N95 Masks Can Be Sanitized With Instant Pots Or Rice Cookers

A new study suggests that N95 masks can be sanitized by taking a spin in pressure cookers, rice cookers or Instant Pots. The Washington Post reports that the researchers who published the details in the new study came upon the idea by accident. “It just happened that both Vishal [Verma] and myself and a number of our students are Asian, and we cook rice every night,” Thanh H. Nguyen said. “We said like, ‘Oh, maybe some type of electric cooker might work.’" Nguyen, an engineering professor, sent a student to Walmart looking for “something easy" to experiment with. With a pressure cooker in hand, Nguyen and Vishal Verma set out to study how the dry heat from such cookers could sanitize the masks. The team used a rice preset on the pressure cooker and masks from 3M. They found that at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, a 50-minute treatment sanitized the masks well enough to be used again. “The N95 can be reused using a very simple method,” said Nguyen. “We want to show that this concept works.” A February study in Taiwan likewise showed that a rice cooker could sterilize masks, while an April study from Ohio also showed that rice cookers could be effective. However, “the study’s authors didn’t look at what are the other factors that are going to be happening," said Sara L. Zimmer, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School.