Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines treat your sleep apnea, helping you breathe better at night and ensuring higher-quality sleep.
But for your CPAP machine to work properly, you need to regularly maintain it and keep it clean. This ensures proper functioning for the full lifespan of the machine, keeping you healthy and saving you money on replacement parts or machines before they’re needed. Not a bad trade off for a few minutes of your daily routine.
How to clean your CPAP machine
Without regular cleaning and maintenance, your CPAP machine turns into a breeding ground of bacteria, mold, dust, pet dander, and more. Avoid this disturbing scenario by following the seven steps below.
Before you get started cleaning any part of your machine, always unplug it first to prevent electrical shock.
1. Clean your CPAP humidifier.
Each morning, fill your sink or a bucket with a soak of warm water and mild, pure liquid soap (avoid soaps with alcohol, fragrances, or chlorine). Then empty any water from your humidifier chamber and let it sit in the soak for 10 minutes. After a quick rinse, let it air dry somewhere out of direct sunlight.
Once it dries, refill it with distilled water. Do not use tap or filtered water, as either of these can introduce chemicals that may damage the machine.
Every week, soak the humidifier for 20 minutes in a solution of 3 parts warm water and 1 part white vinegar.
Humidifiers should be replaced twice a year.
2. Clean your CPAP mask.
CPAP masks are made of silicone for maximum comfort. Unfortunately, that comfort comes at the cost of longevity. Silicone breaks down easily if it’s not properly taken care of.
Invest in special, extra-gentle CPAP mask cleaning fluids to clean your mask, or create your own mix of water and mild pure liquid soap. Let it air dry outside of direct sunlight.
You can also wipe your mask down every morning using CPAP mask wipes, which are formulated to not break down the silicone. These go for around $10 for a three-month supply.
Take extra precaution by cleaning your face every night before bed and skipping the moisturizer. The chemicals can negatively interact with the silicone, apply moisturizer in the morning instead.
Once a week, soak your mask in the same water/white vinegar mixture described above.
CPAP masks should be replaced 2 to 4 times a year, and the cushions once or twice a month.
3. Clean your CPAP tubes.
Each week, soak these in your special mixture of water and mild pure liquid soap. Then use a CPAP tube-cleaning brush to really clean them out. These cost between $8 to $12..
Let the tubes air dry out of direct sunlight.
4. Clean your CPAP filters.
Your CPAP machine probably has two types of filters – a grey one that is non-disposable, and a white one made of paper that is disposable.
Clean the grey one every week with water and let it fully air dry before putting it back in the machine. Replace these every 6 months.
Don’t worry about cleaning the white filters. Just replace them every month.
5. Clean your CPAP chin straps and headgear.
Regularly clean these by hand with warm soapy water and let them air dry. Do not use your washing machine or dryer.
6. Sanitize your CPAP machine.
It’s easy to get grossed out by the idea of bacteria growing in your machine. Ease your mind and keep your CPAP machine totally bacteria-free by regularly sanitizing it with a special CPAP sanitizing machine, but be aware that these are fairly expensive.
Of course, if you’re following the rest of these tips, you can save yourself a few hundred bucks by dutifully following the rest of these tips and wiping down the outside of your machine every week with a damp cloth.
7. Review any additional cleaning instructions provided by your CPAP manufacturer.
Your machine may come with special cleaning guidelines or additional parts we didn’t outline above. Follow these as well. For example, some humidifiers are dishwasher-safe, which could save you the trouble of step 1 — but always check your manufacturer’s instructions first.