Thorough cleaning of your CPAP machine is an important step to ensure your safety and a properly functioning device. An unclean system can become a breeding ground for microbial growth like mold, which can pose significant health risks. Fortunately, the process itself does not require more than five minutes of your time. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your CPAP machine will help ensure a comfortable and safe night’s sleep.
Supplies you need to get started
First, gather all the supplies you will need for the cleaning process and assemble them in a comfortable and accessible place. You need water to clean, so keep your supplies close to the sink or use a tub of water in a suitable location. The water should be warm and of drinking-quality, and ideally at a temperature of 86°F (30°C). You want to use potable water to reduce exposure to particulate matter or germs that could contaminate your system. You will also want a mild soap and a clean towel. We will cover the cleaning process in three stages: cleaning the CPAP mask cushion, frame and headgear, cleaning the air tubing and cleaning the humidifier tub.
Stage One: CPAP mask cushion, frame, and headgear cleaning process
You make direct contact with the CPAP mask, so make sure to give its cleaning extra attention. It is recommended to clean your CPAP mask cushion, frame and headgear daily.
To ensure safety while cleaning, unplug the CPAP machine from the power source and disconnect the mask and the air tubing. The mask can be further disassembled into three parts: the headgear, the cushion and the frame.
The mask cushion and the headgear may have oil or dead skin on it from normal nightly use. In a sink or tub, gently rub your mask cushion and headgear with mild soap and warm water. A mild soap is preferable as it does not damage the mask and leaves less residue behind. Once you finish cleaning the headgear, the cushion and the frame, rinse them thoroughly in warm water. Again, make sure to use water good enough to drink. Let the components dry by placing them on a flat surface. Do not expose the cushion and frame to direct sunlight.
Stage Two: Air tubing cleaning process
Another essential task is to clean the inside and outside of the air tubing once every week. Doing this ensures that the tubing system does not become host to any harmful bacteria or germs. First, disconnect the CPAP machine from the power source so that there is no power supply to the system. Remove the air hose going from the mask into the CPAP machine. Rinse the air tubing thoroughly with mild soap and warm water.
The air tubing system, like the mask, is susceptible to damage if washed with harsh detergents so it’s best to use a mild soap. Once you have finished cleaning the air tubing rinse it thoroughly so no soapy residue is left behind. Dry the air tubing by placing it on a dry towel. Like the cushion and frame, do not expose the air tubing to direct sunlight.
Stage Three: Humidifier tub cleaning process
The humidifier tub should be on a daily and weekly cleaning schedule. Cleaning the humidifier tub should be done daily. Soaking the tub in a solution of vinegar and water should be done weekly.
To clean the humidifier tub, use mild soap and drinking quality water just as you do for the mask and air tubing. After rinsing it thoroughly, place it on a flat surface to dry. Make note that the humidifier tub should be clean at all times and should not be allowed to become discolored.
To do the weekly soak, prepare a solution of equal parts white vinegar and distilled water and soak the humidifier tub in the solution for 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and place the humidifier tub on a towel to dry in a place it will not be exposed to sunlight. Using distilled water exposes the machine to a minimum amount of mineral deposits. You should replace your humidifier tub at least once a year and examine it once a month for any evidence of deterioration.
While cleaning the CPAP machine manually is simple, it is challenging for some people to find the time for the additional daily tasks. Unfortunately, if the device’s cleanliness is not maintained it can have far-reaching harmful effects. If you find yourself struggling to stick to a manual cleaning schedule, you may consider using an automated CPAP cleaner, many of which are available on the market. They are a convenient, compact, and reliable way to keep up with your CPAP maintenance.