Alaska Sleep Education Center

CPAP Equipment Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practices

Posted by Kevin Phillips

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on Sep 10, 2014 3:25:00 PM

Proper CPAP mask cleaning

One of the most important factors in maintaining CPAP compliance is taking proper care of your CPAP equipment. In order to have successful CPAP therapy, you must be willing to make your treatment a priority in your life, and that means regularly cleaning and maintaining your CPAP equipment.

Fortunately, taking proper care of your equipment is pretty easy, and not very time-consuming. With a little adjustment to your regular morning routine, your device and accessories will be working at 100% efficiency to get you that much-needed sleep you've been longing for.

At The Alaska Sleep Clinic, we care about how well our patients' therapy is progressing, and we strive to provide as much information as possible to make sure that they are highly informed on the impact that therapy compliance can have on their lives.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is "how often do I need to clean my CPAP equipment?" To answer this question we set out to compose a comprehensive guide on proper CPAP equipment maintenance and cleaning.

CPAP Humidifier Cleaning and Replacement

Nearly all current CPAP machines now come stock with a heated humidification system that helps cut down on morning dry mouth as well as keeping your nasal turbinates from drying out and becoming irritated and inflamed. However, the humidification chamber needs to be cleaned out daily to prevent bacteria build-up as well as calcification. Here's how:

  • Remove the chamber from the humidifier carefully so water doesn't enter your CPAP machine.

  • Open the chamber and wash with warm, soapy water.

  • Rinse well with water and allow to dry on a clean cloth or paper towel out of direct sunlight.

  • Fill with distilled, sterile, or bottled water.  It is also safe to use water from reverse osmosis systems. Do not use tap water as it may contain minerals and chemicals that can damage components of the machine. It is also not recommended to use filtered water (i.e. through a Brita filter) for the same reasons. 

    Reverse Osmosis Guide

  • Once a week the humidifier chamber should be soaked in a solution of 1 part white vinegar 3 parts water for approximately 15-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with distilled water.

  • Some humidifier chambers are dishwasher safe, but make sure to check your CPAP machine's manual before cleaning in a dishwasher.

  • Humidifier chambers should be replaced every 6 months or as needed.


CPAP Mask Cleaning and Replacement

mirage_quatro_face_editedMost CPAP mask cushions are made of silicone, a gentle, non-irritating material. However, while silicone is a very comfortable material for masks, it doesn't have a very long lifespan, and without proper care can break down quicker than expected. Therefore, cleaning your CPAP mask is crucial in making it efficient as possible. Here are some tips on CPAP mask cleaning and replacement:

  • Wash mask daily with warm water and mild, non-fragrant soap or purchase CPAP mask-specific wipes and detergents.

  • Rinse with water and allow to air dry on a clean cloth or paper towel out of direct sunlight.

  • Before using a mask at night, wash your face thoroughly and don't use facial moisturizers. Facial oils and moisturizers can break down the silicone faster.

  • Once a week soak mask in a solution of 1 part white vinegar 3 parts water before rinsing in distilled water.

  • Headgear and chinstraps should be washed as needed by hand using warm soapy water, rinsed well, and air-dried. Do not place headgear or chinstraps in the washing machine or dryer.
  • For replacement schedules of CPAP masks, you should check both your manufacturer's recommendations and your insurance allowance. However, for most masks, it is recommended that you replace the cushions 1-2 times per month, and the mask every 3-6 months.

  • CPAP tubing should be cleaned weekly in a sink of warm, soapy water, rinsed well, and left to hang dry out of direct sunlight.

CPAP Filters Cleaning and Replacement

Your filters are located near the back of the CPAP machine where the device draws air from the room that it compresses to your pressure settings. Nearly all CPAP machines have a disposable white paper filter and some have an additional non-disposable grey filter as well. Here are some cleaning tips for your CPAP filters:

  • You should clean the grey non-disposable filter at least on a weekly basis. You may have to clean it more regularly if you have pets, smoke inside your house, or if your home is especially dusty.

  • Rinse grey filters with water and allow them to dry before placing them back into your machine.

  • The grey re-usable filters should be replaced when it begins to look worn or after 6 months.

  • Replace disposable white paper filters monthly or more frequently if it appears dingy or dirty.

  • Your CPAP machine itself does not need to be cleaned but you may want to dust it down with a slightly damp cloth as desired.

General CPAP Maintenance & CPAP Cleaning Tips

  • Make your CPAP equipment cleaning part of your morning routine, allowing the equipment ample time to dry during the day.

  • Keep machines and accessories out of direct sunlight to avoid damaging them.

  • Never use bleach to clean accessories.

  • Other machine accessories such as power cords and data cards may need to be replaced due to equipment malfunctions.

  • Place the machine on a level surface away from objects such as curtains that may interfere with the air intake.

  • Always use distilled or sterile water when cleaning components.

  • Keep track of when you should order replacement parts for your mask and accessories so that you always get the most out of your therapy.

With these simple tips on cleaning and maintaining your CPAP device and accessories, you will assuredly have a much better CPAP therapy experience. And remember, you can always contact us here at The Alaska Sleep Clinic for any of your CPAP needs or questions at 855-AKSLEEP (855-257-5337). 

Proper Care and Cleaning Guide.

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Topics: CPAP compliance

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