How to Clean Your CPAP Machine

Image of a Woman Sleeping in a CPAP machineIf you are using a CPAP machine to treat your obstructive sleep apnea, you know that proper care and cleaning of the machine are critical to your health. If your CPAP is not cleaned and sterilized regularly, bacteria can build up and lead to congestion, coughing, and serious illnesses. Not regularly cleaning your CPAP may also void the warranty. Doctors and manufacturers recommend cleaning your CPAP at least once a week.

How do you clean your CPAP? What materials do you need, and how often should you take it apart for a thorough cleaning? Make sure you take care of your CPAP properly to prevent potential problems and effectively alleviate your obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP Cleaning Supplies

  • Mild, unscented soap with no moisturizers (Ivory or Castille are good)
  • Warm water
  • White vinegar (if you wear a humidifying mask)
  • A sink or tub big enough to hold the tubing
  • A clean, soft towel

How to Clean Your CPAP

1.    Take your CPAP apart

Make sure you unplug the machine before cleaning. Disconnect the tubing and air hose from the device and your mask. Do not forget to remove the humidifier’s water tank. If possible, take the mask apart as well. Most have a frame, headgear, and cushion. These are easier to clean and dry individually.

2.    Cleaning the CPAP

Wash the tubing in warm, soapy water, submerging it in a tub or sink to make sure the inside is completely filled with soapy water. If the hoses are non-electrical, you can also clean them in the sink or tub. However, hoses with electrical heating or other electrical elements must be washed separately following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wash each part of the mask in mild, soapy water, using fresh water and soap for each piece. You may notice stains on the headgear and cushion. This is normal and is usually caused by your body’s natural oils. Take the time to make sure you thoroughly clean off any oils, as these can reduce the life of the mask and be a breeding ground for microbes. 

Sanitize humidifiers by filling the tanks with equal parts white vinegar and warm water, then let it soak for a while, so the vinegar has time to do its job.

Rinsing Your CPAP After Cleaning

Use cool, clear water to rinse away all soap and soap residue, making sure all pieces are clean and clear. Double-check the tubing in particular, as it is easy to get tiny soap bubbles inside the tubing. After rinsing all the parts, set them out on a clean towel to air dry. Do not try to use heat to dry them, as this degrades the materials. If you can, hang the tubing over a door or shower curtain rod so they dry more quickly.

Reassemble Your CPAP

Never put your CPAP machine back together until completely dry, which usually takes several hours. Your best bet is to clean your CPAP after waking up so it has all day to dry before using it again. Do not plug the equipment back in until it is fully assembled.

A Few Tips for Proper CPAP Care

Cleaning your CPAP at least once a week, and preferably more often, keeps it operating smoothly and reduces the possibility of an infection or other complications. There are times when it is an absolute must to clean your CPAP daily, such as when you are sick or if you have allergies. Make sure you change the filters frequently.

CPAP cleaning devices are on the market, but some physicians do not endorse these. The FDA has concerns about their safety and efficiency. Soap and water remain the best option.

Tired of Cleaning Your CPAP Machine?

CPAP machines can help alleviate sleep apnea, but they are cumbersome, and uncomfortable, and the cleaning process is time-consuming. If you do not have time to clean it frequently, you may be putting yourself at risk of a respiratory illness or infection. It may be time to consider alternatives if you want to free yourself from caring for and using a CPAP machine to get a good night’s sleep.

If CPAP does not work well for you or constant cleaning is becoming a problem, you may want to consider a surgical solution for sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea and want to explore your treatment options, please call our Park East OMS office at 212-593-2930 or use our online scheduling form to make an appointment for a consultation.