A familiar name in our trade has developed a way of safely re-using single-use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Nikwax – maker of cleaning and waterproofing products for outdoor clothing – has created a new process to launder single-use PPE.

Nikwax PPE Extension maintains the physical and water repellent properties that are needed to stop disease transmission. 

It’s aimed at situations where supplies have run out, and workers are at risk from over-extending the use of masks and gowns.

Nikwax developed the innovation as a direct response to the global fight against Covid-19. 

Barrier to infection

Existing hot washing methods disable disposable PPE by degrading its physical structure and destroying water repellency, says Nikwax. 

Water repellency is key to ensuring PPE forms an effective barrier against infection from bodily fluids. Without it, the fabric and filters can become saturated, forming a fluid bridge across which infections are transmitted. 

Nikwax PPE Extension ensures water repellency is restored and physical structure maintained. 

Working the NHS Trusts

During development of the process, Nikwax worked with masks and gowns from NHS Trusts – and collected information about existing cleaning regimes in hospitals. 

Now the firm has shown that disposable masks and clinical gowns can be cleaned up to five times without significant loss of function.

Another advantage of re-using PPE 

The environment can also benefit from re-usable gowns and masks, says Nick Brown, CEO and founder of Nikwax. 

“COVID-19 has created a massive spike in demand for disposable PPE,” he adds. “We came up with a simple way of cleaning and restoring water repellency for outdoor gear in a washing machine many years ago. 

“In the long-term, the right solution to this problem has to be equipment that has been designed to be re-used many times, and not thrown away after one use.”

See the Nikwax study here

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