Technical Information

Respirator Cleaning

When using respirators to control or reduce exposures to toxic metals it is essential that workers receive a clean and sanitized respirator to start each day. We have developed a low cost and rapid means to clean and sanitize, as well as to test the cleanliness of respirators. The following procedures can be used in a clothes washer, ultra sonic respirator washer and even in sinks and buckets.

Machine Washing Respirators
Washing Respirators in Sinks or Buckets

Cleaning & Sanitizing Respirators with D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent

Washing Respirators in Washers

ESCA Tech products can be used to improve the speed and efficiency of your respirator cleaning program (1910.134). Respirators can be washed in a top load clothes washer (preferred) or a dishwasher. Clothes washers are available in various sizes. In an inexpensive super capacity washer you can clean and sanitize 30 to 40 half face piece respirators in under 30 minutes with cold water. This procedure can be adapted for use in an ultra sonic respirator washer.



  1. Remove filters or cartridges and clean the exterior housing of them with a D-Wipe® Towel.
  2. Place respirators in washing bags.
  3. A super capacity washer will hold 30 to 40 half face pieces, or 10 to 20 full face pieces. A standard capacity washer will hold about 20 to 30 half face pieces.
  4. Set the washer on the delicate cycle for cold water wash and cold water rinse.
  5. For a super capacity washer, add 8 ounces (235 ml) of D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent #3235ES to the wash cycle. For a standard capacity add 6 oz (175 ml).
  6. Add 4 ounces (120 ml) of D-Bact™ Disinfectant #7102ES to the fabric softener reservoir (it will automatically feed during the first rinse cycle).
  7. Evenly load the respirators into the tub, then start the DELICATE wash cycle.
  8. Run the washer through 1 wash cycle (D-Lead), 1 rinse cycle (D-Bact) and a final rinse with cold water.
  9. After the spin cycle, remove the bags, drain any water from the face pieces.
  10. If drying in a clothes dryer, tumble dry on the lowest temperature setting (exhaust air temperature should not exceed 100° F) and delicate setting.
  11. Alternately, hang on the clothes line in a clean area.
  12. When the respirators are dry, inspect all of the valves, straps, face seal, and replace parts in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.
  13. Install filters or cartridges.
  14. Place in plastic bags with an individually packaged D-Wipe® Towel for use in mid shift clean up.

Notes :

  1. For very hard water use 25% more D-Lead®.
  2. If drying in a clothes dryer, be aware that the air intake for the clothes dryer will be inside the laundry room, and potentially re-contaminate the respirators. The dryer should not be the same one used for work clothes, as the residual dirt on the clothes will contaminate the dryer drum, and then the respirators. Tumbling respirators in a dryer will shorten their life and full face respirators may crack the lenses.
  3. If lead is a contaminant of concern, respirators can be tested with the D-Lead® Lead Test Kit.


  • A dishwasher will hold about 20 half face pieces. Most dishwashers have a brief pre-rinse cycle, followed by a longer wash cycle. You need to add the D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent (about 5 - 6 ounces) along with the D-Bact™ about (2 ounces) after the end of the pre-rinse cycle and use the longer wash cycle for cleaning. Use cold water (disconnect the hot water feed line). Set the drying cycle to air dry, as air temperatures over 100° F can distort face pieces. Note: Dishwashers wash with high pressure and clothes washers wash with gentle agitation.

D-Bact™ Disinfectant Cleaner and D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent are chelate free.
D-Bact™ Disinfectant Cleaner is an EPA registered surface disinfectant - registration #: 1839-103-74928

Cleaning & Sanitizing Respirators in Sinks or Buckets

Washing Respirators in Buckets or Sinks

First, determine the volume of each sink or bucket in gallons.

For rectangular containers the volume is: (length * width * water depth in inches)/1,728 = cubic feet

For round containers the volume is: (3.14 * radius * radius * depth in inches)/1,728 = cubic feet

Cubic feet x 7.48 = gallons.


D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent is an efficient, concentrated cleaner for the removal of heavy metals, grease, grime and common dirt from silicone and rubber face pieces, respirator straps and respirator lenses. Add 1 oz of D-Lead® Respirator & Laundry Detergent #3235ES per gallon of water. You can mark the water level in the container to standardize the fill level between shifts or operators. It is expected that you can do a full shift with one fill, depending on how many respirators you have to do and how dirty they are on any given day. You may need to adjust the quantity of cleaner up or down and / or the number of dump-fill cycles per shift depending on the results.

We recommend you use cold water, as the only value of warm or hot water is operator comfort.

  1. Remove filters or cartridges and clean the exterior housing of them with a D-Wipe® Towel.
  2. Immerse the face pieces with headbands still attached into the cleaning solution and allow them to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. After soaking, they can be quickly scrubbed with a soft brush or cloth then rinsed.
  4. Rinse under running water or dunk several times into a container of clean water. If dunking, change rinse water frequently.


D-Bact™ Disinfectant #7102ES is an EPA registered hard surface disinfectant, sanitizer, fungicide, mildewstat and deodorizer concentrate. The EPA approved label directions are 2 ounces per gallon. According to the EPA Approval the respirator must remain wetted with disinfectant solution for 10 minutes.

If the respirators are adequately rinsed after washing then one fill will sanitize 12 to 24 hours worth of respirators. 24 hours is a true maximum batch usage time for the disinfectant. You can use a log on the Sanitizing step to keep this straight between shifts. The respirators must remain wet for 10 minutes in order to sanitize, but they don't have to soak. So you can cut your fill level and Disinfectant usage by implementing a procedure of dunking so that every surface is completely wetted and then after 10 to a maximum of 15 minutes, they are thoroughly rinsed as described above in the cleaning step.


Our recommended procedure for testing respirator cleaning is to have a D-Lead® Test Kit on hand and test the respirator as follows. Pick one respirator for testing from a batch after it is disinfected, rinsed and dried, or alternately test one mask after it is washed, rinsed and dried but before disinfecting.

  1. Spray a test pad with solution 1.
  2. Wipe the entire respirator inside and out.
  3. Spray the test pad with solution 2. If any lead is present on the wipe, it will immediately turn yellow. The intensity of the yellow color is proportional to the amount of lead present.
  4. The detection limit is 20 micrograms total lead. That is the minimum amount of lead present that the average person can see.
  5. Use this as your pass / fail criteria for evaluating the respirator laundry performance and to see if you need to adjust the wash time, scrub effort or concentration of cleaner.

Test Kit Procedure

Respirator Drying

Air or towel dried respirators can get dirty again during the drying step if the air is not clean or if the drying towel is not kept clean.

Really Dirty Respirators

We have had success with this procedure. When a respirator comes to the laundry really dirty, it is bagged instead of washed. The operator is issued a new respirator the next day and the dirty mask is handed to their supervisor for discussion with the worker. When it comes back it is then washed and re-issued.

If you have any questions, please contact us at or 877-532-5323