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How to Clean CPAP Machines and Supplies

The average life expectancy of a CPAP machine is 20,000 hours or roughly 7 or 8 years of use. However, a well maintained CPAP machine can last up to 50,000 hours. One major component of keeping your CPAP machine in it’s best working order is keeping it and all of the related parts clean and replacing parts as they wear out. Read further to find out the health benefits of cleaning your CPAP supplies, what to use (and not use) for cleaning your CPAP parts, how to clean the different CPAP parts, when to replace them, and get tips on speeding up the cleaning process. We want to help you extend the life of your CPAP machine and supplies so you can sleep better.

Why Cleaning and Replacing Your CPAP Parts is Important

Your CPAP machine is an integral part of your overall healthcare, providing you with the rest you need every night. Just like any other machine, your CPAP machine needs to be maintained and kept clean. Besides the obvious benefit of lengthening the life of your machine, your CPAP machine and parts just get dirty. Over time, dust, germs, viruses, and allergens will build up in your machine. Left alone, those viruses and germs will grow, as will mold and other bacterias. Such harmful toxins will mingle with the air you breathe, potentially causing illnesses and allergic reactions. Moreover, minerals in the water will also build up and eventually block your CPAP machine from functioning (IMPORTANT - You should always use distilled water in your CPAP humidifier to avoid as much mineral build up as possible). Keeping your machine clean and wiped down will remove the build-up of all of these harmful particles. A clean, well-maintained machine works the best, the longest, and keeps you healthy.

How NOT to Clean Your CPAP Equipment

There will be times when you’ll be tempted to take a shortcut if you run out of your normal cleaning supplies. Don’t ever do it! Abrasive cleaners or other harsh chemicals can harm your CPAP supplies and leave you wishing you had waited. When in doubt or you just run out, you can always use mild liquid soap and water. All of the following products should never be used on your CPAP machine or parts.

The NO-NO List

  • Any cleaner with bleach
  • Any cleaner with ammonia
  • Antibacterial wipes or soaps
  • Chlorine
  • Alcohol
  • Any scented soaps or cleaners
  • Any soap with moisturizer or lotion in it
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Any oil based products
  • Any abrasive cleaner

CPAP Cleaning Schedule

This is a general cleaning schedule for CPAP machines and parts. Be sure to read the guidelines for your specific CPAP machine for any further recommendations. If you suffer from allergies, more frequent cleanings may help alleviate them.

Every Day
Empty, clean, and set out water chamber to dry (see Basic Steps for Cleaning your Water Humidifier Chamber)
Drain excess water from tubing and hang to dry
Wipe off your mask with a warm soapy cloth or a CPAP specific wipe
Once a Week
Clean your entire CPAP Machine (see Basic Steps for Cleaning your Entire CPAP Machine)
Clean reusable filters (see Basic Steps for Cleaning Reusable CPAP Filters)

Basic Steps for Cleaning Your Entire CPAP Machine

  1. START EARLY. Clean your supplies in the morning so they will have time to dry before your next use.
  2. Unplug and disassemble every part of your machine, including the water chamber.
  3. Make or use a cleaning solution for use in the entire cleaning process. Either warm water with a mild non-perfumed liquid soap or a CPAP specifice cleaner.
  4. Wipe down the body of the CPAP machine with a warm soapy damp cloth or CPAP specific disposable wipe.
  5. Soak CPAP hose, mask, humidifier chamber, headgear, connectors, and cushions in cleaning solution and water.
  6. Wipe out mask with damp soapy cloth.
  7. Rinse each item with warm water.
  8. Hang each item to dry (out of direct sunlight).
  9. When all is dry, reassemble your CPAP machine.

Basic Steps for Cleaning your Water Humidifier Chamber

  1. Some humidifier chambers are dishwasher safe. Check your machine’s manual before using a dishwasher, and follow instructions if your chamber is dishwasher safe.
  2. Carefully remove chamber from humidifier.
  3. Rinse well with water and allow to dry (out of direct sunlight).
  4. Fill with distilled water and replace.

Basic Steps for Cleaning Reusable CPAP Filters

  1. Remove the filters from the machine.
  2. Rinse filters with water and allow to fully dry.
  3. Replace filters into machine.

Speed Up the Cleaning Process

If you don’t have time for all of the cleaning, there are some handy products designed to make cleaning your CPAP parts a cinch.

CPAP Wipes Masks need cleaning after each use. These handy wipes make the daily cleaning chores go quickly. These are also great for travel

CPAP Spray This is another option for a quick clean job. This spray is especially handy for daily use.

CPAP Concentrated Cleaners These CPAP specific cleaners take the guesswork out of making your own cleaning solution. Useful for the big clean days.

The Fastest Way to Clean Your CPAP Machine and Parts

Now there is an easy, automated way to clean ALL of your CPAP gear -the SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer. You simply place your CPAP mask inside the SoClean, connect your machine to it, and run the two-hour cleaning cycle. When finished, all of your parts are clean, germ-free, and dry. The SoClean requires no cleaning products or water. It relies on activated oxygen to clean all of your CPAP gear.

How to Use the SoClean 2

  1. Set the SoClean timer
  2. Place your mask in the unit.
  3. Come back to clean, sterile equipment in 2 hours.

Benefits of the SoClean 2

  • Eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and mold
  • No more disassembling your CPAP machine for cleaning
  • Zero mess
  • No chemicals
  • Uses same sanitizing process used in hospitals and water purification
  • Easy to use
  • One year warranty

When Should I Replace My CPAP Parts?

Keeping your CPAP parts clean is of great importance, but those parts don’t last forever. Here is a typical replacement schedule for CPAP parts. Always check the manuals of your specific CPAP machine/parts for the maker’s recommendations. It’s also good to keep track of the dates of purchase of your various CPAP parts. This will help you remember when it’s time to restock.

Replacement Schedule for CPAP Parts

  • CPAP Mask - every 90 days
  • CPAP Mask Cushion - every 30 days
  • CPAP Nasal Pillows - 2 pairs every 30 days
  • Tubing - every 90 days
  • Headgear - every 180 days
  • Non-disposable filters - every 180 days
  • Disposable filters - every 30 days

Tips For Keeping Up With Your CPAP Cleaning

Whether you are an old pro or a novice, keeping your CPAP machine in it’s best working order can feel like a challenge and a chore. However, here are some helpful tips to keep in your back pocket for when you start to feel like all you do is clean your CPAP machine.

  1. Consider your time investment. While you might save money by using your own soap and water solution, your time investment can really start to add up when you think about all of the steps it takes to keep your CPAP parts all in proper working order. It might be worth speeding up your daily routine by using CPAP wipes or a spray on your mask and humidifier chamber. Or, if you have the money, the SoClean 2 is the best time saver of all.
  2. The early bird gets good rest. It’s always best to tackle your CPAP cleaning right away. Otherwise, you’re going to have to stay up waiting for all of your gear to dry, or have a dirty machine built up with germs, bacteria, mold, etc…
  3. Do the right thing. Do read your CPAP manuals (even if it is tedious). Follow their good advice. Keep up with regular maintenance and cleaning.
  4. Don’t do the wrong thing. Never put your CPAP machine or parts in direct sunlight. Don’t put your headgear in the dryer. Don’t wash your CPAP parts in the dishwasher unless they are dishwasher safe. And, of course, never use the products on the NO-NO List.
  5. Keep good records. It’s always a good idea to have a dedicated record for your CPAP parts. This will help you keep on top of reordering parts or filters. Then you won’t get caught off-guard without the equipment you need for a good night's rest.
  6. Keep up with your treatment. It almost goes without saying, but stay on top of your treatment. Oftentimes, things change in your needs or sleep patterns. Talk to your doctor about those changes and they can help you make the right adjustments to your treatment.
  7. Ask for help. If you have any questions about your CPAP equipment, we are experts and would love to help out. Please contact us, and we’d love to offer advice, help you understand how your CPAP machine works, or answer any other questions we can about your CPAP machine, mask, or other parts.
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