A CPAP machine is a vital medical device for someone who has sleep apnea. The constant pressure coming through the mask helps to keep airways open, reducing the number of sleep apnea episodes that occur during the night. Since a CPAP machine essentially forces air into the respiratory system, it's important to keep the entire machine clean. Respiratory infections from using a CPAP machine are quite rare, but a CPAP machine can potentially cause them if mold and bacteria are allowed to build up in the machine as these pathogens would be blown directly into the respiratory system. Dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria that build up on the CPAP mask also need to be cleaned off in order to prevent them from causing skin irritation. If you own a CPAP machine, read on to find out how to keep it clean.
How Often Do You Need to Clean a CPAP Machine?
You should fully clean your CPAP machine at least once a week. Most manufacturers will recommend that you clean it daily, but this is a major inconvenience for most people—cleaning everything once a week should generally be sufficient to keep mold and bacteria from collecting in your CPAP machine.
However, you will need to clean your CPAP machine daily if you're sick. If you have a respiratory illness, some of the bacteria or viruses causing your illness may linger in your CPAP machine after you use it, and this can extend the length of your illness. Cleaning your CPAP machine daily will disinfect it.
Additionally, some people with oily or sensitive skin may need to clean the CPAP mask daily to prevent acne breakouts and skin irritation. The mask picks up facial oil and bacteria, which can contribute to irritation if it's not cleaned regularly. The fastest way to clean the mask is by using CPAP cleaning wipes, which disinfect the mask and remove any oil that has built up on it.
What's the Best Way to Clean a CPAP Machine?
Unplug your CPAP machine and disassemble it. You'll need to clean the mask and headgear along with the hose that attaches the mask to your CPAP machine. You'll also need to clean out the water chamber in the humidifier to prevent bacteria or mold from collecting in it.
If your CPAP machine has reusable filters (which are typically gray-colored), then you can remove it and clean them with the rest of your equipment. If the machine has disposable filters (which are typically white), then they need to be replaced weekly—if you tried to clean one, it would simply disintegrate in the water.
Aside from disposable filters, all of the parts in a CPAP machine can be cleaned together. Fill a sink in your home with warm, soapy water and then submerge your CPAP machine parts in it. Swish them around in the water and then let them sit in the sink for 30 minutes. After they're done soaking, rinse everything thoroughly to ensure that there's no soapy residue left behind. Hang the CPAP parts in your bathroom so that they're able to dry out by the time you need them.
When you're ready to use your CPAP machine at night, make sure all of the parts you cleaned are dry and then reassemble your CPAP machine. Fill the water chamber with distilled water (anything else can cause mineral residue to build up in your equipment), and then it's ready to be used.
Clean the parts of your CPAP machine in warm, soapy water at least once a week. Clean them daily if you're sick to disinfect them. If your mask causes skin irritation, use a CPAP cleaning wipe on it every morning to remove the bacteria and oil that collect on it. Keeping your CPAP machine clean prevents bacteria and mold from building up in its components, ensuring that nothing harmful is entering into your respiratory system while you're using it at night.