Abstract The recent surge in the use of UV technology for personal protective equipment (PPE) has created a unique learning opportunity for the UV industry to deepen surface disinfection knowledge, especially on surfaces with complex geometries, such as the N95 filter facepiece respirators (FFR). The work outlined in this study addresses the interconnectedness of independent variables (e.g., UV Fluence, respirator material) that require consideration when assessing UV light efficacy for disinfecting respirators. Through electron microscopy and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, we characterized respirator filter layers and revealed that polymer type affects disinfection efficacy. Specifically, FFR layers made from polypropylene (PP) (hydrophobic in nature) resulted in higher disinfection efficiency than layers composed of polyethylene terephthalate (PET-P) (hygroscopic in nature). An analysis of elastic band materials on the respirators indicated that silicone rubber-based bands achieved higher disinfection efficiency than PET-P bands and have a woven, fabric-like texture. While there is a strong desire to repurpose respirators, through this work we demonstrated that the design of an appropriate UV system is essential and that only respirators meeting specific design criteria may be reasonable for repurposing via UV disinfection.