When you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it can be overwhelming learning how to use your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, getting used to sleeping with a mask on your face and maintaining the equipment. Luckily, cleaning the equipment is fairly easy and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes of your time. It’s important to regularly clean your CPAP to prevent mold and bacteria growth. Wiping down the face mask daily ensures a tight seal. Weekly cleaning of your CPAP tubing, mask, headgear and water tub prevents mold build-up. While there are some things you should avoid, cleaning your CPAP regularly should become habit. Regular cleaning of your CPAP ensures you’re getting the best therapy possible to treat your obstructive sleep apnea.
Why You Need to Clean Your CPAP
Just like everything else in your house, your CPAP machine is going to get dirty. Because you’re breathing in the air that is circulating through the machine, you need to keep it clean for your own health. We know how dangerous untreated sleep apnea is for our health, but it can also be risky to not clean your CPAP machine to treat your OSA. Remember that many of these machines use water to humidify the air so it isn’t as dry. Trapped water in tight, dark places can cause mold to grow. You don’t want to breathe in air that is filtering through the mold.
According to Very Well Health, it also helps to disinfect germs in the machine. Our bodies are naturally full of germs and bacteria, but we don’t want them to linger in the air. Cleaning your CPAP regularly ensures the bacteria growth stays to a minimum. If you are sick, particularly with an upper respiratory infection, you may want to clean your CPAP more often.
Some other reasons to clean your CPAP are because it maintains the equipment better. These machines are really expensive, and you don’t want to have to pay for another because the equipment broke down prematurely. Save that money for your bariatric surgery! Cleaning your CPAP also reduces odors that may make it unpleasant to breathe when you’re trying to sleep. Cleaning your CPAP ensures you’ll get the best therapy possible to treat your obstructive sleep apnea.
Daily cleaning of the entire CPAP machine isn’t necessary. Simply take an unscented baby wipe and wipe down the pillows of the face mask that touch your face. When I first picked up my CPAP equipment, the therapist told me that baby wipes work just fine for this daily cleaning. This cleaning helps remove dirt, oil and dead skin cells. It will help you getting a tighter seal at night with your face mask. I don’t know about you, but I always struggled with getting a tight seal. I found if I wiped down the mask daily it helped create the seal tighter.
You can also just do a quick wipe down of the outside of the machine to prevent dust and dirt build up on it. It only takes a few minutes to wipe down these parts, but it will help maintain your equipment overtime. Properly maintained equipment ensures you get the proper treatment for your OSA.
Clean your CPAP machine weekly to prevent mold and bacteria growth inside your machine. It’s really simple to do this task, and should only take about 10 to 15 minutes of your time. I like to let the equipment soak while I’m doing my meal prep, and let it air dry as I’m doing my cleaning or laundry for the week. Below are the exact steps I used to clean my CPAP weekly. I never had any issues with bacteria, mold or illness when I did these steps weekly. I used a ResMed AirSense 10 and a Philips Respironics Amara View face mask.
Disconnect Your CPAP
- Unplug the power cord from the back of the machine.
- Disconnect the tubing from the back of the machine.
- Disconnect the tubing from the face mask. For mine, I pinched two tabs and carefully separated the two pieces.
- Remove the headgear from the mask. For my mask, I disconnected the two magnets in the front and opened the Velcro straps on the side. Remove the comfort sleeves from the plastic arms on the side. I’d often thrown these fabric pieces in my laundry.
- Remove the water tub from the side of the CPAP machine.
- Open up the water tub and remove the plastic seal inside.
Clean Your CPAP Equipment
- Fill your sink with hot water. Add a few drops of liquid, unscented hand soap.
- Place the tubing, face mask, water tub and water seal in the water. Allow to soak for approximately 30 minutes.
- Use a clean dish cloth to thoroughly wipe down each part carefully.
- For the tubing, let the inside fill with hot soapy water and swish from one end of the tube to the other. Use the dishcloth to wipe down the connection ends.
- Rinse all of the pieces thoroughly with hot water.
Let it Dry
- Place a clean dish towel on the counter.
- Carefully place each piece of equipment on the dish towel to air dry.
- Drape the tubing over your shower curtain rod to let the water drip out and into the tub.
Wipe Down the Machine and Air Filter
- Take your dish cloth and wipe down the CPAP machine thoroughly.
- Clean the opening where the water tub goes by wiping it down with the damp cloth.
- Wipe down the back of the machine where the tubing is inserted.
- Carefully open the side door where the air filter is and use your fingers to wipe away any dirt on the filter.
- Use the dishcloth to wipe down the air vent holes.
- Place the filter back in the holder and snap close.
Reconnect Your CPAP
- Align the water seal back in its place. Fill the water tub with distilled water to the max line. Snap it closed.
- Carefully place it back inside the CPAP machine, make sure to gently press it in all the way.
- Place the two comfort sleeves over the plastic arms of the facemask.
- Insert the straps of the headgear into the plastic arms of the facemask. Press the Velcro firmly to seal.
- Connect the magnets back to the bottom half of the facemask.
- Connect the tubing back to the facemask. For mine, I pinched the two taps and inserted the tubing into the hole of the facemask.
- Connect the tubing to the back of the machine by pressing firmly.
- Reconnect the power supply.
Things to Avoid
As you’re learning how to maintain your equipment, there are a few things you should avoid doing when you clean your CPAP. The following list should help you maintain your expensive equipment for a long time.
- Don’t use bleach, household cleaners or rubbing alcohol on any part of the equipment. These chemicals are too harsh and can lead to damage.
- Don’t use moisturizing soaps to clean your CPAP equipment. It can leave an unpleasant residue.
- Don’t use tap water to fill the water tub of your CPAP. Use only distilled water to minimize bacteria exposure.
- Don’t place your equipment in the dishwasher. The soaps are too harsh for your equipment and could damage them.
- Don’t skip the weekly cleaning. No matter how busy you are, you need to make time to clean the equipment.
Receive the Maximum Benefit of CPAP
Cleaning your CPAP regularly is quick and easy. It’s probably the easiest part of treating your OSA. A quick wipe of your mask cushions and outside of the machine daily helps prevent oil and dirt build up. Soaking your equipment for 30 minutes weekly in hot, soapy water kills bacteria and prevents mold growth. Avoid using harsh chemicals and bleach. Allow your equipment to air dry and reassemble for another week of healthy use. Regular cleaning of your CPAP ensures you’re getting the best therapy possible to treat your obstructive sleep apnea.
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1. Unplug the power cord from the back of the machine.
2. Disconnect the tubing, face mask, head gear and water tub
3. Fill your sink with hot water. Add a few drops of liquid, unscented hand soap.
4. Place the tubing, face mask, water tub and water seal in the water. Allow to soak for approximately 30 minutes.
10. Use a clean dish cloth to thoroughly wipe down each part carefully.
11. Rinse all of the pieces thoroughly with hot water.
12. Carefully place each piece of equipment on the dish towel to air dry. Drape the tubing over your shower curtain rod.
13. Wipe down the CPAP machine thoroughly.
14. Wipe down the air filter.
15. Fill the water tub with distilled water to the max line. Snap it closed. Reassemble all the pieces and reconnect the power supply.