April 9, 2020 / 3:58 PM / 2 months ago

True claim: Face masks catch fire if microwaved

Users on social media are sharing pictures of burned face masks, warning of the danger of microwaving them, after viral posts recommended microwaving cloth face coverings in plastic bags for “2 to 3 minutes” to clean them ( archive.vn/XbtdK ). ( here , here , here , here , here , here , here ).

An example of the posts accompanying the photographs of burnt face masks reads: “I read a post or two about sanitizing face mask in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Look at mine after 1:39 seconds. Glad I was standing by and watching the process! Don’t do it FIRE HAZARD”

Local authorities have posted warnings about the potential fire risk of microwaving cloth masks on their social media channels.

The Colorado River Fire Rescue posted a warning that reads “DO NOT place any face mask in the microwave for any amount of time” ( here ).

The Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management in Tennessee warned of the fire risk and urged people: “Please do NOT microwave your hand made masks.” ( here )

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Reuters: “Washing a cloth face-covering in a washing machine will sufficiently clean and sanitize it”. On its website, CDC also advises that fabric face masks should be “routinely washed depending on the frequency of use” ( here ).

On April 3, 2020 the CDC reversed its previous advice on wearing masks in public and recommended wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. CDC stressed fabric masks fashioned from household items can also be used, and that surgical masks or N-95 respirators must be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

VERDICT

True: Microwaving face masks is a fire hazard. The CDC recommends washing face coverings

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work   here  .

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