How to Properly Care for Respirators

December 15, 2023

Respirators won’t last very long or perform effectively if they’re not properly cared for. When you get busy, you may be tempted to skimp on proper respirator care. Make proper respirator care a priority, and your respirator will thank you by keeping you safe when you need it.

Why taking proper care of your respirator is important

Your respirator is an important piece of safety equipment. It helps protect you from breathing in harmful particles, gases and vapors. In order to be effective each time you use it, your respirator must be in good condition. The following tips can help you properly care for your respirator so that it works effectively to keep you safe.

How to inspect your respirator

Some respirators are disposable and can be thrown away after they are worn. However, non-disposable, reusable respirators should be checked before and after each use. Here’s how:

  1. Stretch the elastic on the straps. Be sure the elastic isn’t becoming loose. Also check the straps for tears.
  2. Check the lens for cracks or other damage.
  3. Inspect the face seal. Make sure nothing interferes with the fittings. Check for dirt, cracks or tears.
  4. When you perform fit checks on your respirator, you will be able to tell if the valves are working properly.
  5. Look for any other worn, damaged or missing parts. If you spot a problem, get a different respirator.
  6. Report the problem to your supervisor so the respirator can be repaired.
WARNING: Cartridges can break down and become ineffective with use. Leave the contaminated area you are in and change cartridges when you detect any tastes, odors or irritation, or your senses indicate any abnormal condition.

Proper respirator care do’s and don’ts


  • Take good care of your respirator by knowing how to inspect and clean it
  • Use a different respirator if you spot any worn, damaged or missing parts
  • Leave the contaminated area and change cartridges when you detect any odors or irritation


  • Handle your respirator with dirty hands
  • Forget to disassemble your respirator before you clean it
  • Store respirators on the dashboard of a truck, in an enclosed cab, on a work bench or near pesticide containers

How to clean your respirator

Follow these steps to clean your non-disposable respirator:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Disassemble your respirator before cleaning it. Check the written instructions that come with the respirator.
  3. Hand wash the facepiece in warm water. Use a disinfecting soap recommended by the manufacturer. Then thoroughly rinse it off.
  4. Clean the inhalation and exhalation valves with the disinfecting soap.
  5. Cartridges and filters cannot be cleaned. They may be reused or disposed of, depending on their condition.
  6. Let all of the parts you have cleaned air dry before you put the respirator back together.
  7. Between thorough cleanings, you can use disposable wipe pads that do not contain alcohol to wipe off your respirator in between uses during the workday. The wipe pads come in small packets and can be taken with you where you work.

How to store your respirator

  • Be sure to store your respirator in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight.
  • Cartridges should be removed from the respirator and stored in a standard zipper-lock plastic bag.
  • DO NOT store your respirator on the dashboard of a truck, in an enclosed cab, on a work bench or near pesticide containers. Cartridges can absorb anything from cigarette smoke to engine exhaust, and may not work properly the next time you use them.
  • Store your respirator away from dust, sunlight, humidity, extreme heat, extreme cold and chemicals to avoid damage to your respirator.
  • Do not put anything on top of the respirator when you store it.

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