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Prices surge for KN95 and N95 masks; how to safely wash and reuse them to save money

Prices go as high as $58 for a pack of 30 KN95 masks, nearly $80 for another pack and up to nearly $72 for a pack of 35 N95 masks.

SAN DIEGO — Public health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated and boosted. They are also recommending people upgrade from a cloth mask to a higher quality medical grade mask, but what is the price you’ll pay online for these masks? CBS 8 did some digging to find out. 

It's time to switch out the cloth masks for a KN95 or N95 mask.

According to an article for the Poytner Institute, KN95 and N95 masks are infused with an electrostatic charge that helps filter our particles, but these masks will cost you a pretty penny.

High price tags

CBS 8 searched for N95 and KN95 masks on Amazon. Prices go as high as $58 for a pack of 30 KN95 masks, nearly $80 for another pack and up  to nearly $72 for a pack of 35 N95 masks. 

A best-selling pack of 40 KN95 masks on Amazon shows that the price has tripled over the past month, according to the website camelcamelcamel. The item increased from $26.99 in December to $75.99 in January.

On top of that, N95 and KN95 masks are created for single use only, however, there are ways to clean and re-use your mask. 

How to reuse and save

The journal of emergency medicine says leaving a N95 mask in a paper bag for 3-4 days is a good option, and “all SARS-COV-2 viruses on the mask will be dead in 3 days.”

A study by a team of Harvard/Beth Israel doctors found you can also microwave-steam a mask. They say to put about two ounces of distilled water in a Tupperware container, then cover it with a produce mesh bag and secure it with a rubber band. Then, set the mask on top and microwave it for three minutes to decontaminate. 

The "95" in the names refers to the masks’ 95% filtration against viral particles. N95 masks are regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, while KN95s are regulated by the Chinese government.

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