How to Clean a CPAP Machine: Easy Maintenance Tips

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a machine that helps people who suffer from sleep apnea. It provides a continuous stream of pressurized air to prevent the collapse of airways and allow unobstructed breathing.

In addition to sleep apnea treatment, CPAP is an effective tool to deal with snoring. The airflow that comes through CPAP mask minimizes tissue vibrations in the throat, thus preventing snoring.

A CPAP machine can improve your sleep, but it also requires regular maintenance to remain in perfect working order.

In this article, you will learn how to clean a CPAP machine. The good news is that you won’t need a sanitizer device to do it.

CPAP Cleaning 101

To clean the machine, you need a towel, a soft cloth, a small tub, and mild antibacterial dish soap. All parts of the machine can be cleaned, so don’t forget to get it ready, along with the headgear, mask, humidifier chamber, and tubing.

The cleaning process takes a few simple steps. Here’s what they are:

Step 1

Begin by completely disassembling the machine. Before you start disconnecting all the parts, make sure that the machine is unplugged to prevent getting shocked.

Remove the CPAP mask from the tubing and detach the headgear, if there is one. Take the tubing off and be careful not to damage the connectors. The same applies to the humidifier output and the water chamber. Disassemble the water chamber if you can (this may not be possible on all modern machines).

Step 2

Dampen a soft cloth in warm water and thoroughly wipe the outside of your CPAP unit.

Fill the small tub with warm water and add the antibacterial dish soap. You can add some vinegar for extra sanitation and cleaning, but it’s not necessary.

Put the disassembled gear (mask, connectors, and tubing) in the tub and let it sit for about half an hour. Swishing the water through the tubing helps you get to all the nooks and crannies, so you can do that as well. After soaking and swishing, rinse the elements in warm water and let them air dry.

You should clean the water chamber separately because it requires hot water and mild antibacterial soap. Like the other elements, it also air dries.

Step 3

There is a possibility that your CPAP machine has a special filter. You should check the machine’s instructions before you start cleaning the filter.

Some filters can be rinsed with warm water, while others need to be replaced. Disposable filters are usually replaced every 2 or 4 weeks, but the frequency may vary depending on where you use the machine.

Step 4

You can put the parts back together after they dry. Attach the headgear to the mask, connect the tubing to the mask, and hook it back into the humidifier. In some models, the tubing might plug directly into the machine.

Once you’re done, allow the machine to run for a while and check for air leaks. You should take the machine to a professional if you notice it’s not running properly after cleaning.

Additional Notes

  1. Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you start cleaning the machine.
  2. CPAPs shouldn’t be cleaned in a dishwasher because they could sustain damage.
  3. Use only gentle antibacterial soap without any perfumes. Otherwise, your lungs might get irritated.
  4. You need to clean the CPAP more often if you’ve been recently ill.
  5. Only use distilled water in the humidifier to prevent mineral deposits.

Sanitizing Units and Ultraviolet Lights

These devices are heavily advertised, but they are not necessary for proper CPAP maintenance. They provide very little additional safety compared to the cleaning routine described in this article.

CPAPs are sterile devices by nature and you are not at risk of contracting an infection if you keep the device clean. For over 35 years, these machines have helped thousands of people without expensive sanitation gadgets, so there’s no need to start using one now.

How Often Do You Need to Clean a CPAP Machine?

The physician who suggested using the machine probably also gave you some advice about the cleaning frequency. According to most manufacturers, the water chamber, mask, and tubing require daily cleaning.

Admittedly, this may be too often for most users. You are not in danger of an infection if you clean the machine once or twice a week. However, if you suffer from a respiratory infection, the machine needs a daily clean-up. This way, you prevent the germs from spreading around the machine, which might prolong your recovery.

Needless to say, you should be the only person to use the CPAP machine. Sharing might lead to an infection.

The Importance of Proper Maintenance

The air you breathe through the mask circulates inside the machine, and its quality is directly affected by the cleanliness of the CPAP elements.

In addition, proper maintenance minimizes the chance of bacteria and mold exposure. You will thus be less likely to develop allergy symptoms. There is also less risk of developing pneumonia or a sinus infection.

A poorly maintained CPAP machine often gives off a foul musty odor. There is also a higher risk of mineral deposits, which might lead to premature machine failure. What’s more, there is a danger of voiding the warranty if you fail to clean the machine as often as instructed.

Extra Tips

It is best to clean the CPAP equipment in the morning since it leaves enough time for the elements to dry. If you are a pet owner, you might need to clean the disposable filter a few times a week.

The CPAP machine should be away from direct sunlight to prevent damage. You should put it on a level surface like the nightstand. The surface needs to be clear from any objects that can obstruct the machine’s air intake.

It is advisable to wash your face before you put on the CPAP mask. Avoid facial moisturizers and oils because they can affect the integrity of the silicone seal.

Take a Deep Breath

Sleep apnea is a condition that seriously impairs your ability to sleep and may lead to more health complications. Luckily, CPAP machines provide the treatment you need to ensure continuous breathing during sleep.

This article has provided a comprehensive guide on how to clean a CPAP machine. The process is simple and, in most cases, you don’t need to do it every day.

You can make the CPAP clean-up a part of your weekly routine. If so, there’s no need to worry about the quality of the air you breathe through the machine.