Face Visor: Washing Process and Reusability

Disclaimer: This article does not provide any guidance as to the suitability of washing processes to remove SARS-CoV-2 from a visor. The aim is to guide health workers in choosing a suitable washing process for the visor to maintain/retain optical and mechanical functionality of the face visor.

PDF versions are available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish


As a result of a shortage in PPE during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, visors have been produced by new suppliers in a range of materials.

Visors are usually composed of three parts:

  1. Face shield made of clear plastic
    Either needs to be disposed of after use, or can be re-used after washing
  2. Elastic band made of textile fabrics
    Can be washed and re-used
  3. Face shield carrier made of plastic
    Either needs to be disposed of after use, or can be re-used after washing

Based on the values published, “Heat at 56°C kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 min (quick reduction)” [1] and SARS-CoV-2 is “susceptible to standard disinfection methods” [2], general guidance is for health care workers is to wash high-risk items and clothes at a minimum of 60˚C during at least 30 minutes using a bleach-based product [3-5]. For general laundry and non-high-risk laundry, a lower temperature could be used, such as 40˚C using a bleach-based product [6] and for a longer time.

SARS-CoV-2 virus has also been shown to not be resistant to steam sterilisation and to chlorine [2]. The sterilisation techniques employed are:

  • Steam sterilisation: Baby bottle sterilisation, Type Tommee Tippee, Closer to Nature
    • 100 ml of water and 10 min steam cycle
  • Milton tablet (1.8% v/v) sterilisation at room temperature, 1 tablet in 5 litres of tap water
    • Allow 15 minutes for tablet to dissolve, then steep materials in solution for 240 minutes (4 hours)

In all the cases, the parts need to be checked by the user after washing to assess that the visor is still fit for intentional use by the user. For example, the parts must not have shrunk, the face shield must remain clear, the elastic band must remain with enough strength to hold the visor and the face shield carrier must not have snapped. The behaviour of the parts during the cleaning process will depends on how they are manufactured, what they are made of and on the cleaning process itself.

Based on the information from health organisations, the materials used and how they are manufactured, the washing processes for the different parts of the visor that the user could perform are as follow:

References:

[1] – [English] WHO https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/

[2] – [English] Independent study https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-5247(20)30003-3

[3] – [English] WHO https://www.who.int/publications-detail/water-sanitation-hygiene-and-waste-management-for-covid-19

[4] – [French] Haut conseil de la santé publique https://www.hcsp.fr/explore.cgi/avisrapportsdomaine?clefr=761

[5] – [English] NHS https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/infections/can-clothes-and-towels-spread-germs/ [6] – [English] NHS https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-prevent-germs-from-spreading/

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