How to Know Your CPAP Needs Cleaning

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a common machine. It is used by those suffering from OSA, also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA is a disease where one suffers from lack of breathing during sleep. The frequency may last for a few seconds, and in some cases, it may become life-threatening.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea has become very common in the US. Stress, lifestyle habits, and medical issues play a role in the development of sleep apnea. Due to the lack of oxygen during sleep, OSA results in poor sleeping habits. This may lead to irritable behavior and, in some cases, memory loss. There are different therapies and medications used to treat OSA. The CPAP machine has shown to be the most effective and popular treatment.

What is CPAP?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a treatment for those with sleep apnea. This machine provides mild air pressure, which keeps the airway open. This encourages proper breathing during sleep. Since the machine is used continuously, it is important to clean it regularly. Routine cleaning will enhance the life and performance of the machine. It will also keep the machine free of allergens and pathogens which could cause other issues.

How to clean CPAP?

The CPAP machine has a mask made of silicone, which is a soft and pliable material. Comfort is important since users wear the mask during sleep. Silicone does not have a long lifespan however, and it needs regular care and maintenance. Since the mask is used daily, cleaning it is important. There is a risk that it may become a breeding ground for some bacteria, molds and other pathogens. This could degrade the quality of the silicone and can also cause respiratory issues. It is recommended that a CPAP machine be cleaned frequently.

When should you clean the mask?

It is important that the mask be cleaned daily. Make sure to use warm water and mild soap. Wipes for cleaning CPAP masks are also available for purchase. Once the mask is washed and cleaned, wipe it with a dry cloth and allow it to dry completely before using.

The final step to sterilizing the CPAP equipment is use a CPAP cleaner. CPAP cleaners disinfect and keep the mask and tubing dry and clean.

Even with regular mask cleaning, things like facial moisturizers or makeup can degrade the longevity of the silicone. If possible, users should have a clean face before use of a CPAP machine.

As an alternative to soap and water, the masks can soak in a solution of one part of white vinegar and two parts of water. After this, the mask should be rinsed thoroughly.

In addition the mask, the headgear, chinstrap and tubing should be washed using mild soap and warm water. Rinse it well and allow it to dry completely.

Always check the recommendations from the manufacturer. In general, the mask cushion should be replaced 1-2 times a month and the mask every 3-6 months.

Another important part of CPAP is the filter. Most CPAPs have disposable a white filter and a non-disposable grey filter. These should also be cleaned.

When should you clean the filter?

Since filters pull in air from the outside of the unit, it must be washed at least once a week. Cleaning it more often may be necessary if there are pets in the house someone who smokes. The filter must be free from dust and debris.

How to clean the filter?

The process of cleaning is very simple; rinse the grey filter with water and allow it to dry. The grey filters are re-usable, and they should be replaced when it starts to appear worn down. The disposable white paper filters must be replaced monthly or earlier if it is dirty or worn out.

The entire outside of CPAP machine should be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Cleaning and replacement of CPAP parts:

A brief guide to CPAP parts, when to clean, and replacing parts.

CPAP Mask Cushion

Must be cleaned regularly with warm water and mild soap 1-2 times a month.


Must clean the mask daily and replace it 3-6 times a month.

CPAP Tubing

Must also be cleaned with warm soapy water every day. Replace it when it appears worn out.

CPAP Filters

Must be cleaned once a week. Replace when they start appearing worn out.

General CPAP Cleaning Tips

  • The CPAP cleaning instrument should be regularly refreshed.
  • Make sure that the equipment and its parts are dry before using.
  • Do not use any facial moisturizer before using CPAP.
  • Always use warm water and mild soap to clean CPAP.
  • Replace the worn-out parts.
  • If CPAP is used during times of illness, clean the entire unit thoroughly before the next use.
  • Wipe off the entire setup with a damp cloth.
  • Keep the CPAP dust-free.
  • Do not use chemical-based cleaners. These can damage the delicate parts of the equipment.
  • Always follow the instruction mentioned in the manual before using the equipment.

In Summary

With basic steps and a cleaning routine, users can safely use a CPAP machine. Proper cleaning safeguards the equipment from growing pathogens. Regular maintenance also enhances the longevity of the machine.

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