Reusing Face Shields: Simple Tips for Cleaning & Maintenance
As dental practices begin reopening, the CDC is recommending additional PPE over and above what was typically worn by dental professionals pre COVID-19. One piece of PPE that many dental professional are now wearing is a face shield.

To help maintain supply of PPE many dental professionals will reuse their face shields. However, guidance on how to properly clean and maintain face shields for reuse is scarce. Prior to the pandemic routine wearing of face shields was almost non-existent in dentistry and the question of reusing them had not been thoroughly discussed.

Fortunately, Dentistry IQ recently published a simple yet informative piece on face shield maintenance by Anne Nugent Guignon, MPH, RDH, CSP. We’ve summarized the information below to help dental professionals maintain their face shields so they can safely reuse them.

What Manufacturers Say

Face shield manufacturers have varied responses to if and how to reuse their product, including:

  • Not to offer instructions due to not having specific OSHA clearance to do so
  • Describe their shields as disposable
  • Provide various cleaning methods  varying from soap and water to a hard surface disinfectant

Because of the various ways in which manufacturers do or don’t recommend cleaning their face shields, Anne sought the advice of a chemical engineer to provide simple yet science-based information to keep dental professionals safe.

Basic Face Shield Cleaning

This cleaning method can help ensure safe reuse while avoiding potential damage.

  • Step 1: Submerge face shield in warm water for a minute or two to dislodge any particulate matter (this will help avoid scratches)
  • Step 2: Add a mild liquid dish detergent (e.g. Dawn) and let sit for a few more minutes
  • Step 3: Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently clean the shield
  • Step 4: Rinse shield in clear water and dry with a soft cotton towel or microfiber cloth
  • Step 5: Disinfect with a surface disinfecting wipe (be sure to follow the proper contact time as necessary) and test to ensure no residue is left behind that may impede vision
  • Step 6: Store face shields in a covered location until next use

Additional Maintenance Tips

  • Don’t use cleaners that contain ammonia or that are formulated to clean glass as they can leave behind a cloudy surface
  • Don’t use cleaners with any type of grit as they can scratch the face shield
  • Don’t use paper towels or similar paper products for drying as they can cause small scratches over time
  • To test a specific cleaner or disinfectant for compatibility apply a small amount to an area out of your line of sight

Following these simple instructions as part of your practice PPE protocol, can help you and the rest of your staff safely reuse face shields.