The Importance of Cleaning your CPAP Machine

Being diagnosed with sleep apnea can be a life-changing turn of events. Treatments, doctor visits, buying equipment, and then caring for said equipment are just some of the lifestyle changes that you will have to undergo. Additionally, your partner may also be faced with sleepless nights because of your loud and near constant snoring.

Because of your new condition, you’ll have to sleep with a CPAP machine. Cleaning your CPAP machine is one of the most important, if not the most essential thing that you must do when living with sleep apnea.

We’re going to tell you how and why cleaning your CPAP machine is so important, as well as how you can get an excellent CPAP machine and mask cleaner.

What is a CPAP Machine and How do They Work?

If you have sleep apnea, you know your CPAP as the mask you wear when you go to sleep that enables you and your partner to sleep soundly. If you’ve just been diagnosed, it is something that will take some getting used to but will finally allow you to sleep well and live better. CPAPs decrease your snoring and help you to get a full night’s rest.

According to Sleep.Org, a division of the National Sleep Foundation, CPAP (which stands for continuous positive air pressure) machines increase the air pressure in your throat to prevent your airway from collapsing when you inhale. The device has a filter and a small tank of water, which mainly works as a humidifier. The positive pressure that it creates, which helps prevent your throat from collapsing acts to prevent snoring and help you to breathe better during the night.

Being that your CPAP machine is essential for living with sleep apnea, it is just as necessary that you properly care for your device.

Man sleeping with CPAP machine doesn’t know how to clean it
CPAP machines help those with sleep apnea to sleep soundly through the night

Why Clean your CPAP

If you don’t give your CPAP a proper cleaning, you can get very sick. CPAP machines that are not cleaned regularly can become breeding grounds for a variety of bacteria born from standing water and your exhalations. Once these microbes have festered in your machine and equipment, all you have to do is breathe in and you’re breathing in a cocktail of bacteria all night long. Common illnesses associated with dirty CPAPs include pneumonia (which can be deadly), bronchitis and sinus infections. It can also cause nasal, skin and eye irritation as well.

Not only can you become sick, but If your machine isn’t properly cleaned, it will likely take on a foul smell (from the bacteria, oils, etc.), which will most likely act as a deterrent from use. Think of how disgusting your CPAP machine can become after continued use without cleaning, would you want to continuously put that apparatus on your face to go to sleep?

How to Clean your CPAP

The American Sleep Association highlights two crucial steps for cleaning your CPAP machine. The first step is to rinse and dry your CPAP with water. There are also special cleaning fluids and wipes that you can use on your device, as well as store-bought cleaning solutions that you can use. Some individuals even suggest using a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and warm water to clean your CPAP. Regardless of the method that you choose, it is best to check with your manufacturer’s instructions before trying any of them.

The second step of cleaning your machine is to be sure to dry all of your equipment thoroughly. For example, hang your tube so that it drapes down to the ground and allows all of the water to drip out of it. Manually drying the exterior surfaces of your equipment will speed up the process as well. If you don’t ensure that your CPAP is dried correctly, the standing water can lead to foul-smelling mold and bacteria growth, which can make you sick.

In addition to keeping you healthy, cleaning your CPAP helps it to last longer. CPAPs don’t last forever, but you can help to prolong its life with proper care. Even if you take the best possible care of your machine, it is still recommended to replace your equipment every year or even six months as needed.

Note:* If your CPAP has a humidifier, be sure to change the water daily as well so that it doesn’t breed bacteria. Refill with distilled or sterile water. 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.

CPAP Cleaning Piece by Piece

While generally, you simply just rinse your CPAP with water after use and let dry, in truth, it’s a little more involved. Each piece of your CPAP deserves special attention. How you clean your mask is different from how you may clean your tubing or clean your reservoir for that matter. Here’s a piece by piece break down from the Alaska Sleep Clinic. On how to properly clean each part of your machine.

How to Clean your CPAP Mask

Wash mask daily with warm water and mild, non-fragrant soap. Rinse with water and allow to air dry on a clean cloth or paper towel out of direct sunlight

How to Clean your CPAP Headgear and Chinstrap

Headgear and chinstrap should be washed as needed by hand using warm soapy water or damp rag, rinsed well and air dried

How to clean your CPAP Filters

Rinse grey filters with water and allow to dry before placing back into your machine (grey reusable filters should be replaced when it begins to look worn or after six (6) months)
Replace disposable white paper filters monthly or more frequently if it appears dingy or dirty.

Humidifier or reservoir

Open chamber and wash with warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to dry on a clean cloth or paper towel out of direct sunlight.

Tubing

Clean in a sink of warm, soapy water, rinse thoroughly and leave to hang-dry out of direct sunlight.

Note:* Never place any pieces of your CPAP or the machine itself into a dishwasher, washing machine or dryer as doing so may damage the machine and accessories. Additionally, never use bleach to clean CPAP or CPAP accessories.

Frequency

How often should you clean your CPAP? Should you be on a specific schedule with the cleaning and maintenance of your equipment? The answer to both of these questions is yes!

Every day when you wake up in the morning, just like it’s a good idea for you to bathe in the shower, it’s a good idea to wash your CPAP as well, however, some pieces you can clean weekly and don’t necessarily have to be cleaned daily.

Clean the following accessories daily:

  • Humidifier chamber or reservoir
  • Mask

Clean the following accessories weekly:

  • Gray, non-disposable filter
  • Tubing

Other:

  • Headgear and chin strap – as needed
Note:* If you are currently sick or have been fighting an illness, it is advised that you increase your CPAP cleaning regiment to daily. Cleaning your CPAP mask and machine is especially important during cold and flu seasons, and it is not recommended that you share your CPAP with others.

Ozone CPAP Mask Cleaners

Ozone is one of the “other methods” that we mentioned earlier in terms of cleaning your CPAP. Ozone is a common cleaner that many people typically use for their CPAP cleaner. It is useful as it kills many different types of microbes and can quickly get into small crevices and areas that soap and water may not be able to.

However, there are significant drawbacks to this cleaner as well. For example, it can result in pulmonary edema and lung irritation if misused. After using Ozone, you must wait 2-3 hours before using your CPAP as well. You must be careful to ensure that your only discharge the cleaner into your CPAP and not into a room with people and pets.

For more information about Ozone and the other discussed CPAP cleaning methods, you can read about in our recent blog post about Ozone cleaners.

A Better Way: Clean your CPAP with Lumin’s UV System

There is another option for cleaning your CPAP with water or other solutions or Ozone. The Lumin CPAP Cleaner is safe and easy to use, with no potentially harmful Ozone, which can irritate the lungs and respiratory system.

Simply place your mask in the Lumin CPAP mask cleaner, turn it on and wait five minutes. It won’t damage your equipment is safe and effective. Aside from our normal Lumin, we also have our Lumin Bullet, which is specially designed to clean your CPAP hose. It can get the microbe killing UV light into every nook, cranny, and hard to reach spots of your tubing.

Note*: You can also discover more about CPAP Mask Cleaners, why a dirty CPAP can make you sick by visiting our FAQ page.

 

woman sitting on edge of bed bad odor from CPAP
Ensuring that your CPAP is clean will keep you healthy and help you sleep better so that both you and your partner can sleep through the night

To learn more about Lumin’, see reviews about the Lumin Bullet, contact us or discover more about sleep apnea on our blog.

December 20, 2019 35

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