Face Shield Maintenance: Understanding Practical Steps To Ensure Cleanliness And Optical Clarity
Face Shield Maintenance: Since most health care workers are expected to reuse their face shields, it is essential to understand how to disinfect and clean this personal protective equipment (PPE). Proper and effective cleaning is a hot topic online. Typically, the comments are off-the-cuff and anecdotal. People are spending hours trying to get answers to these questions. They have also contacted numerous distributors and manufacturers, and quite honestly, there was minimal consensus regarding how to care for these devices, but here is what we learned.
Plastic face shields: The actual face shield material is some plastic, but that is where the similarity ends. Protectors are made with a variety of materials, including polycarbonate and polyethene terephthalate (also known as PET or polyester). Some shields are more scratch-resistant while some materials are more rigid than others, prolonging the overall life of the guard. Optical clarity in a plastic shield is also critical.
Full Face Shield Disinfection After Removal
- Put on clean gloves – obtain disinfectant wipe
- Disinfect front (patient-facing) side of the shield with EPA-approved disinfectant, non-bleach wipe. Allow for appropriate dwell time.
- Turn protection over, wipe inside of guard and other areas, e.g. strap or ear loops with disinfecting wipe, avoid foam area. Allow for appropriate dwell time.
- If the shield is streaked or has a cloudy film, clean mask with soft, damp (with water) cloth or use an alcohol pad.
- Allow airing dry.
- If face shield appears damaged or torn – discard and obtain a replacement
Damaging/destroying a face shield
Avoid using household cleaners, as they contain products formulated to clean glass surfaces and ammonia. Cleaners like these have the potential to damage plastic surfaces resulting in a permanently cloudy surface. Commercial cleaners that contain any grit are also contraindicated, including toothpaste. Avoid using paper towels, which can create microscopic scratches. If you are worried that a disinfectant or specific cleaner might damage your face shield, it is easy to run a compatibility test. Apply a small amount on the protection (in an inconspicuous place), such as the edge. To avoid an oops moment, make sure the test area is out of your line of sight.
Patient eye protection: In addition to face shields, many clinicians offer patients protective eyewear or goggles. Most likely, this practice will become more common. Patient eye protection can be cleaned and disinfected in the same way as our shields. Once dry, store the protective eyewear in individual zip lock bags. Patients are bound to appreciate this additional consideration.
Planning for the future
Not only has it become difficult to find a product that will work well, but there are also significant backorders. Do you know that manufacturers are working to meet the increased demand for face shields for healthcare workers? Now it is more prominent than ever to take good care of your reusable PPE to get the maximum life and optimal protection out of all products. Not only does this help the practice bottom line, but it also reduces unnecessary landfill waste, while helping us protect our health.
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