Can I Use Bleach to Clean My CPAP Machine? If you are a sleep apnea patient, you are probably aware of the importance doctors and manufacturers place on thoroughly cleaning your CPAP device. When you treat your sleep apnea through CPAP therapy, the device becomes a regular fixture in your life. You use it every night to help you breathe freely during sleep. The regular usage of your CPAP machine makes the need for routine cleaning unavoidable.
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You might use household bleach to handle your day-to-day cleaning needs. It is a common belief that cleaning a CPAP hose with bleach is acceptable as well. Therefore, a question that CPAP experts often get is, “Can I use bleach to clean my CPAP machine?” But before we explain whether or not this practice is actually safe, let’s understand the properties, general usage, and health hazards of bleach.
What is bleach and how is it used?
We commonly refer to chlorine-based bleach when we mention bleaching agents or household bleach. In chlorine-based bleach, the active agent is chlorine. A bleach solution of 1/3 cup of bleach per one gallon of water is recommended by the CDC as an effective disinfectant against many germs, viruses, and bacteria.
Bleach is frequently used in everyday households as well as in industrial cleaning to disinfect hard surfaces. Bleach is also found in specialized cleaning products for hospitals. It can also be used to disinfect water in emergency situations.
What are the health hazards of bleach?
High concentrations of or prolonged exposure to bleach can lead to severe complications. In addition to skin irritation and potential burns upon contact with skin, bleach ingestion or inhalation can affect the esophagus, stomach, and lungs. Bleach creates chlorine gas when mixed with acids, including vinegar, which is highly toxic and can lead to severe burns. Even when diluted with water, bleach can cause significant damage to your vital organs. Bleach fumes can linger in the air and irritate your lungs every time you breathe.
In 2008, a study by European researchers indicated that chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) formed when sodium hypochlorite reacted with chemicals contained in household cleaning products. These chlorinated VOCs are emitted during cleaning applications. Some of these compounds can be extremely toxic and have carcinogenic properties. The study showed that indoor air concentrations increased up to 1,170 times above the baseline quantities when bleach-containing products were used for cleaning.
Bleach is one of the most common cleaning agents in homes. When used in the right concentration for general cleaning purposes it is not poisonous, but using it for medical equipment can be hazardous. Some users have been cleaning their CPAP hose with bleach, but there are good reasons to think twice before doing so.
Can I Use Bleach to Clean My CPAP Machine?
These days, the market has a wide variety of CPAP machine cleaning support accessories. There are also many cleaning solutions available that doctors and manufacturers suggest for sanitizing machines. Using vinegar or bleach to clean CPAP devices is a common alternative to specialized CPAP cleaning agents. But is it safe?
Rigorous and consistent cleaning can be a time-consuming schedule disruption for CPAP users. It can be especially troublesome to clean your CPAP machine if you run out of your usual cleaning solution. However, it is highly recommended by CPAP experts never to use bleach to clean a CPAP hose or other parts of the machine. You will never find a legitimate manufacturer who suggests using anything to clean your CPAP device apart from approved cleaning agents.
Using bleach to clean a CPAP machine, depending on the concentration, can be corrosive to your gear. Household bleach can cause skin, eye, and oral irritations. Individuals with pre-existing conditions are particularly susceptible to complications. Sleep apnea patients already experiencing congestion should avoid close contact with bleach or other similar products.
Bleach fumes are toxic, even if it is diluted with water. The fumes can cause serious damage to your lungs if inhaled in large amounts. If you have not been cleaning your CPAP hose with bleach but use it on your mask, it still can be harmful. Using bleach to clean a CPAP machine mask can cause skin irritation as the chemical can be absorbed by the mask’s soft lining.
There are also other commonly available cleaning agents that should never be used on your CPAP machine. These include aromatic-based solutions or scented oils like eucalyptus, essential oils, and alcohol. Any other products that have a strong smell, such as citrus, should also be avoided. Like bleach, these substances can damage your CPAP mask and other components, reducing the useful life of your device. They may also leave behind harmful residues that can be destructive to your health if they are inhaled or come into contact with your skin. More chemicals that should never be used on your CPAP machine without professional guidance are chlorine and antibacterial agents.
Another similar myth around cleaning CPAP devices is the use of baby wipes. Baby wipes are not effective enough to be used to clean CPAP devices and could even be damaging to the machine. For short trips or hectic schedules, you can buy wipes specially created for CPAP cleaning. These are a good choice for short periods of time, but should never replace the thorough cleaning of your device.
Help! I’ve been cleaning my CPAP hose with bleach!
There’s a lot of misleading information on the internet. Some of it might have you believe that cleaning your CPAP hose with bleach is a great idea. Don’t be led astray by this inaccurate information. If you only use CPAP cleaners approved by your doctor or the manufacturer of your CPAP device, you can be confident that what you are using is safe, effective, and will not damage your device.
However, if you have already been cleaning your CPAP hose with bleach, or using bleach to clean CPAP machine components of any kind, there’s still hope. Get your device inspected by your doctor or the device’s manufacturer for any damages that might have occurred due to the corrosive nature of bleach. You can also connect with the experienced CPAP experts at Clean CPAP. They can give you thorough instructions on how to deep clean your CPAP device without damaging it any further.
Using bleach to clean a CPAP machine is not doing your health or your device any favors. Your CPAP machine is your gateway to better sleep and more robust health. Be sure to treat it well with regular cleanings using a solution that is approved by your doctor or the device’s manufacturer.