This article aims at helping users know the best cleaning practices for their CPAP equipment. It also aims at answering questions about frequency of cleaning as well as what substances should be used for cleaning the machine.

Importance of Cleaning CPAP Equipment

Regular cleaning of CPAP equipment is necessary for ensuring that the user does not get any opportunistic infections as a result of dirty CPAP equipment. Moreover, routine and proper care would help the user to prolong the life of his/her CPAP machine, mask as well as other accessories.

Except cleaning insides of CPAP machine (qualified technician should only open it) the user can clean pretty much everything else, which includes CPAP mask, filter, hose, and humidifier

Tips for Cleaning CPAP Equipment

The following video show how to properly clean the CPAP equipment, including CPAP accessories, the frequency of cleaning humidifier and tubes, cleaning solutions as well as other essential rules.

Effective Humidifier Cleaning

If the user is using distilled water in the humidifier, then there does not arise any significant problem while cleaning the humidifier. The user can just clean the chamber with a 10-minute soak in mild soap, rinse and air dry after every use.

However, if the user uses regular tap water instead of distilled water, then the chances of microbial growth as well as mineral build-up are high. In such cases, the user can use vinegar and water mix (one part of vinegar with three parts of water) to clean the humidifier, rinse with clean water and later on fill the chamber with distilled water.

If the user feels the water-vinegar mix is not sufficient, then he/she can go for specialized cleaning solutions that are available in the market. Since it is stronger than vinegar, care should be taken while handling these solutions.

Cleaning CPAP Hose

CPAP hose has to be cleaned once weekly without fail. This can be done by filling the sink with a mix of liquid soap and warm water. The tube should be placed into the tub ensuring that it is thoroughly soaked and the water can enter and clean entire tube.

A cleaning brush can also be used for cleaning. However, care should be taken to ensure that the fragile hose is not broken. Once cleaning is done, the tube should be rinsed well and left hanging to air dry. There are complete systems developed by various companies for cleaning the tube, which is highly beneficial during travel.

Of note, CPAP hose should be either replaced annually or more often since these can develop microscopic holes which can impact the pressure setting since the air can leak through these holes.

The following videos describe cleaning of the CPAP hose with the cleaning system.

Cleaning CPAP Mask

One of the essential accessories for an effective CPAP therapy is the mask, and the user should clean the mask on a daily basis as this would ensure that there is no buildup of grime on the mask. The mask should be only washed after it is completely disassembled.

To clean the mask correctly, the soft cushion should be cleaned with mild liquid soap, after which the mask should be rinsed well with clear warm water and left to air dry. The soft cushion should be handled gently to avoid it from tearing. The headgear and mask frame can be cleaned on a weekly basis in the same manner and left to air dry. The soft cushion, headgear and the mask frame should never be kept in direct sunlight.

Of note, CPAP mask (silicone parts and mask) should never be cleaned with antibacterial soaps. The mask should be worn on a clean skin devoid of any cosmetics, conditioners, moisturizers, etc. to ensure the longevity of the CPAP mask. The cleaning process of CPAP mask is shown in the following video:

Cleaning CPAP Filters

Filters present in the CPAP machines are essential accessories which enable in minimizing the amount of dust that has been sucked into the machine. Over a period, the CPAP filter becomes very dirty, and lack of regular cleaning can result in it becoming a fertile hotspot for bacteria and other microorganisms. Ideally, the CPAP user should change the air filters regularly. While many machines have a single filter, there is a machine which has two filters - non-disposable (made from foam, usually grey or black) and disposable filter.

The non-disposable filter should be cleaned once in a week with a mild dishwashing liquid and rinsed with clear water and left to air dry. The filter lasts up to one year, so replacement need not be widespread. Disposable filters, on the other hand, must regularly be replaced as and when the dirt starts building up or the filter changes color. These filter should ideally be replaced either monthly or bi-monthly.

Bottom Line

CPAP equipment cleaning is a straightforward process and is something which should be done regularly to avoid contracting avoidable diseases. Of note, while cleaning the machine, the instructions from manufacturers should be followed very clearly as each machine has a different set of instructions and failure to obey them can result in avoidable harm to the CPAP machine.