Safety Tips Personal protective equipment

Caring for respirators

Photo: ANCCI/iStockphoto

Making sure respirators are in proper working order is critical to ensuring they perform as intended. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends following a number of steps when caring for your respirator.

General checklist:

  • Always inspect your respirator before and after performing work.
  • Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Inspect equipment designated for “emergency use” at least once a month.
  • Promptly repair or replace any cracked, torn, broken, missing or worn parts.

Regarding a respirator’s facepiece, CCOHS recommends checking for holes or tears, looking for scratched or loose-fitting lenses, and ensuring – for disposable respirators – metal nose clips form comfortably over the nose. Additionally, ensure the edges of the facepiece aren’t rippled, damaged or otherwise distorted.

When inspecting your respirator’s filters, pay careful attention that the filter and mask are certified to be used together, CCOHS states. Your filter should be approved for the hazards you expect to encounter. In addition:

  • Check the filter and facepiece threads – they should be properly screwed together, and no cross-threading should be occurring.
  • Regularly inspect the filter housing for wear, cracks and dents.
  • Keep track of the expiration date of the end-of-service-life indicator for gas masks.

CCOHS offers tips for proper respirator care and maintenance, including:

  • Don’t use solvents on your respirator to clean it.
  • Wash with a mild dish detergent.
  • Store your respirator to protect against dust, light, heat, moisture and chemicals.
  • Clean and disinfect respirators after each use.
  • Ensure a qualified professional performs any repair work on your respirator.

For more on caring for respirators, visit

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)