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How Often Should You Clean CPAP Equipment

Now that you have been prescribed with a CPAP machine CPAP device, getting used to wearing your new CPAP therapy device while sleeping and using it correctly every night are the first critical steps to successfully managing sleep apnea obstructive sleep apnea.

The next critical step in your therapy is learning how to properly clean and maintain the CPAP mask and hose and how often you should undertake this task.

Why CPAP Parts Need to Be Washed

OSA is a medical condition that can lead to serious health issues Health Issues and effective therapy is dependent on having and using reliable equipment. Keeping your CPAP device and CPAP equipment including mask, tube and humidifier chamber hygienic is key to maintaining its reliability and ensuring your good health.

Most CPAP masks are made with silicone cushions, designed to be comfortable, gentle and non-irritating. However, the material may wear out faster without proper care. Therefore cleaning your CPAP mask and hose regularly promotes good hygiene and helps your equipment last longer.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your CPAP Regularly?

CPAP machines are humid and often warm, making them the perfect home for mould, bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microbes. Cleaning your CPAP components regularly washes these microbes away and prevents them from reaching dangerous levels.  But, neglecting your CPAP machine’s hygiene can lead to both acute and chronic respiratory conditions.

Regardless of your personal hygiene, facial oils will quickly build up on your mask’s cushion and headgear. Oil attracts dirt and bacteria, and the combination of these can quickly lead to acne and skin irritation around your mask.

Finally, a dirty CPAP machine will have a far shorter lifespan than one that is kept clean. Facial oils and dirt can degrade the materials your mask is made of, while mould and harmful microbes can also damage the hose or humidifier tank, leading to cracks or cloudiness.

How Often You Should Clean CPAP Parts

CPAP equipment manufacturers recommend regular cleanings. They advise washing out the mask, tubing and CPAP humidifier chamber at minimum once a week. Rinsing the mask and hose daily is good practice that helps keep them clean.   If you are sick it is preferable that CPAP equipment is washed daily so you do not rebreather the infections.  It is well established that viruses can remain on surfaces from a few hours Mayo Clinic to several days CSIRO.

Most manufacturers and sites say that Cleaning the CPAP equipment well does not require expensive equipment or an excessive amount of time.

However, it is important to keep in mind that all the CPAP parts that come in contact with water will actually be at risk of developing dangerous mould, breeding viruses and bacteria CPAP Masks and bacteria, especially if they are not fully dried.  To clean your CPAP properly and effectively will take time.

Sanitising your CPAP equipment with a product like the Lumin Sanitiser is prudent as it fast, and will kill 99.9% of germs, bacterial, mould and viruses.

 

How to Clean a CPAP Machine

In This Article

  • How and why, you should Clean a CPAP Machine
  • What is CPAP Equipment?
  • Types of Cleaning Methods
    • Manual
    • Wipes
    • Ozone Cleaners
    • UVC Cleaning machines

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines is the most common treatment option for sleep apnea, a serious breathing disorder.

There are several critical parts to the cpap system CPAP machines that the manufacturers recommend you clean regularly.  These include, the mask, headgear, breathing circuit and the water reservoir used for humidification.   Cleaning your equipment daily removes dangerous germs, bacteria, mould and dirt and makes your CPAP treatment a clean, fresh and healthy experience Dirty CPAP and Your health.

Although daily cleaning may be time consuming if it is undertaken manually, it is an essential process that needs to be integrate into your daily schedule.

How to Clean CPAP Equipment

All CPAP manufacturers recommend users to adhere to a daily routine of cleaning of their CPAP equipment.  If this is not possible users must commit to at a minimum a weekly cleaning schedule Clean CPAP .

Unclean CPAP equipment such as hoses, masks and water chambers can lead to serious illness.  By not cleaning your CPAP you may be susceptible to congestion, coughs, and other respiratory issues.

Not cleaning your CPAP machine may also lead your CPAP equipment lifespan being shortened and, in some cases, may void the manufacturer’s warranty. By cleaning your CPAP equipment regularly (daily or even weekly) you will ensure these lifesaving pieces of medical equipment remains in pristine condition.

What is CPAP Equipment?

CPAP Equipment is the accessories that are an integral part of the CPAP therapy and essential components that fit with your CPAP machine.

These include,

  • CPAP Mask
  • CPAP Tube
  • CPAP Water Reservoir or Humidifier

The CPAP machine itself only requires the surface of the device to be wiped down but the equipment requires cleaning daily of weekly as they are likely to accumulate dirt, germs, bacteria and viruses.

Types of CPAP Cleaning Methods

  • Manual Cleaning with Soap and water
  • CPAP Cleaning Wipes
  • Ozone Cleaners*
  • UVC Cleaners. Lumin CPAP Sanitiser

1. Manual Cleaning

This process is suggested by the CPAP manufacturers.

It can be very effective if undertaken correctly BUT

  • Can be time consuming. Process can take between 40 minutes to over 1 hour.
  • Soap residues can remain.
  • If not dried completely can harbour more bacteria

CPAP Cleaning Supplies Required for Manual Cleaning

  • Mild soap, preferably unscented and without moisturizing ingredients
  • White vinegar (if you use a humidifier tank)
  • Warm, drinking-quality water
  • A sink, tub, or bucket large enough to hold your hose or tubing
  • A clean, non-abrasive towel
  • Drying rack

 CPAP Equipment Cleaning Steps

Disassemble:

  • Before you disassemble or clean any part of your CPAP machine, you should always double-check that it is unplugged from any power source. The air hose and tubing should be disconnected from both the mask and the CPAP machine before cleaning.
  • If you use a humidifier, you should also remove the water tank and set it aside.
  • Most CPAP masks consist of three parts — headgear, cushion, and frame — that can be separated for more effective cleaning and easier drying.

Clean:

  • Most tubing can be cleaned by washing it in warm, soapy water. The inside of the tubing must also be cleaned, so be sure to submerge it in the water for long enough that it fills up completely with the soapy water.
  • However, hoses with electrical components — such as heated hoses — must be cleaned more carefully. If you use a heated hose, double-check the manufacturer’s directions for more information on keeping it clean.
  • Each part of your mask should be washed separately with mild soap. The cushion and headgear are particularly prone to becoming stained with face or hair oils — since these can degrade the material and attract microbes, make sure they are oil-free before moving on.
  • Humidifier tanks can be cleaned by filling them with a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar. The tank can be left to soak while you clean the rest of your CPAP components, allowing the vinegar time to work.

Rinse and Air Dry: 

  • All CPAP components should be rinsed with cool, clean water after being washed. The components should be free of any soap, including soap film, so double-check that they are clean before leaving them to dry. This is particularly important for thin tubing, as it is easy to miss soap bubbles trapped inside them.
  • Once all of your components are rinsed and clean, you should set them out on a soft, clean towel to air-dry.
  • Hoses and tubing may dry better if hung up, so try hanging them from a shower rail or door if they do not air-dry properly on the towel.

Reassemble: 

  • You should only reassemble your mask and CPAP components once they are fully dry. Depending on the component and your climate, this may take several hours.
  • Reassembly should be done away from outlets and with the CPAP machine unplugged. Always remember to follow any assembly instructions from the manufacturer of your mask and CPAP machine.

 

2. CPAP Wipes

Available at most sleep dealers and through online retailers.  These are pre-moistened wipes which can safely remove oils, dead skin cells, and dust from your mask.

  • While these wipes are great options for cleaning your mask, they’re a bit harder to use on the water chamber — and
  • impossible to use when cleaning your tubing.
  • Even with the mask, it may not be easy to get into all the creases, crevices and folds and you need to use multiple wipes.

Remember, you should not use the same wipe to clean the whole mask as all you are doing is spreading the germs from one area to another Risk with wipes.   Wipes are also not ecologically friendly. wipes and the environment

3. Ozone Cleaners

Some cleaning devices use ozone gas to neutralize pathogens from parts.

  • They can be very effective. BUT only use those that are approved by regulatory bodies and be aware of manufacturer’s warranty conditions.
  • Unless completely sealed, these machines emit ozone into the air. A known environmental pollutant and a health irritant to those individuals who suffer from respiratory issues.
  • Generally, Ozone cleaners that have not been approved by the regulatory bodies in USA and Australia are more than likely to create the issues noted previously.
  • Ozone is highly toxic and tends to linger, which means you can only use an ozone cleaner hours before you go to bed. Otherwise, you risk inhaling the lingering ozone when you use your CPAP. This can worsen your breathing problems.
  • The two major manufacturers of CPAP now state that the CPAP warranty will be void if ozone cleaners are used. Manufactures Warranty

4. UVC (Ultra Violet Light C) Cleaners

UV light is often used in laboratory environments to sterilize equipment. UV-based cleaners such as Lumin apply this technology to your CPAP equipment.

YOU SHOULD ONLY USE UVC Cleaners that work at the optimum wavelength and TIME and must have been tested to be effective by independent credible testing laboratories.  Benefits of UVC Light

Lumin Sanitiser www.luminaustralia.com.au

  • When exposed to UVC light at 254nm, bacteria and viruses are disabled. Meaning you can more easily clean your sleep mask without needing to use soap and water.
  • Note that it must be of a specific wavelength for UVC light to clean equipment and operated for a particular duration.
  • In other words, you cannot neutralize your sleep mask by holding a regular fluorescent light over it.
  • Choose a UVC-based cleaner specifically designed for this purpose, such as the Lumin Sanitiser

How To Choose Your Sleep Mask Cleaning Device

How To Choose Your Sleep Mask Cleaning Device

Your doctor has diagnosed and prescribed therapy for your sleep apnea. As this is something new and relates to your health you may be trying to figure out how to manage your therapy going forward. When using cpap therapy there are several components that you need consider from how do I fit the mask so there is no leak, have I set up the equipment correctly, what do I do to clean and how often should I clean?
There are several critical parts to the cpap system that the manufacturers recommend you clean regularly. These include, the mask, headgear, breathing circuit and the water reservoir used for heated humidification.
You could clean each of these components individually with soap and water, but that’s time-consuming and can leave a foul odour when the water dries on the plastic. This smell can be a disincentive to you continuing with your critical cpap therapy.
Autumn and winter are well knows as the cold/flu seasons and it is essential that you clean your cpap mask and other equipment. Remember, “A dirty mask or equipment can make you sick”!
To ensure that all parts of your sleep mask and other essential part of the system are clean and functional, we have outlined some commonly used methods that will allow you to make an informed choice on what would best suit your cleaning needs.
Types of Cleaning
Manual Cleaning
Experts recommend cleaning your water resevoir daily, tubing every week, and the sleep mask and headgear regularly. You should never use harsh chemicals or strong detergents (e.g., dish soap), as these can leave harmful residues.
Some gentle soaps such as hand soaps are okay to use in small amounts. Many people use a simple vinegar-water solution to clean their accessories.
Problems with Manual Cleaning

Mildew and germ build-up aren’t always visible to the naked eye like the above image. Occasionally, trapped water will breed soap-resistant pathogens that you later breathe in.
The problem is that most manual methods could still leave moisture and germs inside your machine’s parts. These can contribute to mould, mildew, odour, and potentially an infection. You also need to let the parts air-dry, which can be an issue on busy days if you clean the machine late it generally is not dry in time for when you are ready to go to sleep.
Other Cleaning Methods
If the soap-and-water approach does not work for you or if you would like a deeper clean, there are several options for sanitising and maintaining your cpap equipment.
Cleaning Wipes/Wet Wipes
Available at most sleep dealers and through online retailers. These are pre-moistened wipes which can safely remove oils, dead skin cells, and dust from your mask. While these wipes are great options for cleaning your mask, they’re a bit harder to use on the water chamber — and impossible to use when cleaning your tubing. Even with the mask, it may not be easy to get into all the creases, crevices and folds and you need to use multiple wipes. Remember, you should not use the same wipe to clean the whole mask as all you are doing is spreading the germs from one area to another.
Ozone Cleaners
Some cleaning devices use ozone gas to neutralize pathogens from parts. Unless completely sealed, these machines emit ozone into the air. Unfortunately, ozone is highly toxic. Ozone tends to linger, which means you can only use an ozone cleaner hours before you go to bed. Otherwise, you risk inhaling the lingering ozone when you use your. This can actually worsen your breathing problems. Recently a major manufacturer has noted that ozone has had an detrimental effect on the sound abatement foam inside their CPAP and BiPAP products and has issues a recall on these products.
UV Cleaners
UV light is often used in laboratory environments to sterilize equipment. UV-based cleaners such as Lumin Sanitiser apply this technology to your CPAP equipment.
Cleaning Device Lumin Sanitiser
When exposed to UV light, bacteria and viruses are disabled. Meaning you can more easily clean your sleep mask without needing to use soap and water. Note that it must be of a specific wavelength for UV light to clean equipment and operated for a particular duration. In other words, you cannot neutralize your sleep mask by holding a regular fluorescent light over it. Choose a UV-based cleaner specifically designed for this purpose, such as the 3B Lumin Sanitiser.
The Best Solution
Cleaning your sleep mask and other equipment such as hoses and water reservoir regularly is crucial to your overall health.
You will avoid getting sick from mould or mildew or reinfecting yourself with pathogens exhaled during sleep. Furthermore, you will also prolong the life of your CPAP and accessories. Traditional cleaning methods don’t always work. You need a water-free approach or deeper clean; make a UV-based cleaner part of your routine.
Here’s to better sleep!
Jan, 2021 by Ann S (CPAP Consultant with many years of experience in the field)