Friday, 01 May 2020 09:26

Nikwax creates new process to launder certain single-use PPE

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Throughout the world, PPE is largely single-use. Vast amounts are created, used for a short amount of time and then incinerated or sent to landfill. 

Finding ways to extend PPE’s lifespan safely not only increases the effective supply, but also creates clear environmental benefits. 

Nikwax PPE image

Nikwax, the UK’s leading producer of cleaning and waterproofing solutions for outdoor clothing, has created a new process to launder certain single-use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) more safely.  Unlike existing cleaning methods, Nikwax ‘PPE Extension’ maintains the physical and water repellent properties needed to stop disease transmission. The innovation is a direct response to help in the global fight against COVID-19. It is aimed at situations where supply has run out and workers are at risk from over-extending the use of masks and gowns.

  • Testing by Nikwax shows disposable masks and gowns can be cleaned in a washing process whilst maintaining their functional qualities
  • The process could be rolled out quickly using existing cleaning facilities
  • Safely reusing disposable or single-use PPE could increase effective supply by 5 times in a crisis situation 

A water repellent barrier to infection

Existing hot washing methods disable disposable PPE by degrading its physical structure and destroying water repellency. Water repellency is key to ensuring PPE forms an effective barrier against infection from bodily fluids. Without it, PPE 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.

Nikwax has published its full work, methods and arguments on its website which can be viewed here:, with the aim of extending the dialogue with professionals in this area.