How Often Should CPAP Equipment Be Cleaned?
We recommend routine cleaning of your equipment. Daily cleaning of the mask, tubing, and water chamber can help to avoid potential dangers and problems, including bacteria exposure, mold exposure, allergy symptoms, possible increased risk for sinus infections or pneumonia, musty or foul odor, mineralization within the equipment, and premature equipment breakdown. This may seem excessive. Fortunately, the risk of any sort of infection or mold exposure is extraordinarily low. If you are sick with an upper respiratory infection, you may want to clean up the equipment at this time. It is further recommended that you not share the equipment with others as this may cause an infection to be shared.
What Supplies Do You Need?
CPAP equipment (mask, headgear, tubing, humidifier water chamber, CPAP machine)
Dish soap (mild antibacterial is preferable)
Small sink, tub, or basin
5 Simple Steps to a Cleaner Machine
Disassemble the parts of the CPAP machine. Unplug your CPAP machine from its power source, as there may be a danger of electrical shock if you do not. Disconnect your mask from the CPAP tubing. If your mask has a headgear, remove or detach it. If there are other pieces that are easily reattached, these also can be separated. Remove the CPAP tubing from any connectors, the humidifier output, or from the CPAP machine itself, if it connects directly. If you have a water chamber, remove it from the humidifier unit of the CPAP machine and separate it into its pieces if these are present (and if this is easily done). Most modern water chambers open but may not separate into different parts.
Take a soft cloth and wet it with warm water. Gently wipe down the external surface of the CPAP machine to remove dust.
Fill a small sink, tub, or basin with warm water. Add a small amount of gentle dish soap. Some people will even use a little vinegar in the water (diluted to a ratio of 1:1 with water), but this is optional. Submerge the mask, headgear, tubing, and any connectors in the warm soapy water. Allow it to soak for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, wipe out the mask with a soft cloth and warm water, and swish soapy water through the tubing. Allow everything to air dry on a towel or by hanging (such as over the shower curtain rod in the bathroom). These items ideally should be cleaned every day but try to do it at least weekly. The humidifier's water chamber should be cleaned with hot water and mild soap. It should also be allowed to air dry.
Some CPAP machines have filters in place. It will be important to review your manufacturer’s instructions or ask your respiratory therapist about how these should be maintained. Some can be rinsed but others must be replaced, and the timing of this will vary depending on the environment you use the machine in. The replacement of disposable filters should generally be done as needed, which can be determined by how quickly the filter changes colors (most will turn a grayish color, depending on the environment).
Finally, after everything has been allowed to air dry, reassemble the various parts. Apply the headgear to your mask, hook the mask back onto the tubing and any connectors, and connect the tubing back to the humidifier or directly to the CPAP machine. Turn the machine on briefly and listen for any air leaks that weren’t there previously.