Disinfection of reusable elastomeric respirators by health care workers: a feasibility study and development of standard operating procedures

Am J Infect Control. 2015 Jun;43(6):629-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2015.02.009. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


Background: This was a feasibility study in a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center to develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) to be used by health care workers to disinfect reusable elastomeric respirators under pandemic conditions. Registered and licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, aides, clinical technicians, and physicians took part in the study.

Methods: Health care worker volunteers were provided with manufacturers' cleaning and disinfection instructions and all necessary supplies. They were observed and filmed. SOPs were developed, based on these observations, and tested on naïve volunteer health care workers. Error rates using manufacturers' instructions and SOPs were compared.

Results: When using respirator manufacturers' cleaning and disinfection instructions, without specific training or supervision, all subjects made multiple errors. When using the SOPs developed in the study, without specific training or guidance, naïve health care workers disinfected respirators with zero errors.

Conclusion: Reusable facial protective equipment may be disinfected by health care workers with minimal training using SOPs.

Keywords: Disinfectants; Disinfection; Influenza; Pandemics; Respiratory protective device; Sodium hypochlorite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disinfection / methods
  • Disinfection / standards*
  • Elastomers
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Equipment Reuse / standards*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Reference Standards
  • Respiratory Protective Devices / standards*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs


  • Elastomers