CPAP Equipment: Comfort & Cleaning
Comfort and Cleaning
Mask wipes, mask strap pads and custom CPAP pillows are popular and effective comfort items. Each of these items are crafted especially for CPAP therapy, often by CPAP users themselves. The mask wipes are made from natural, fresh smelling ingredients and they do not break down the plastic decreasing the life of your mask. Mask wipes are safe for every day cleaning and are often used to prolong time between thorough cleaning. Mask strap pads decrease skin irritation caused by contact from mask straps. CPAP pillows allow CPAP masks to "hang off" the pillow during sleep, which reduces or prevents torquing and mask leak.
Comfort & Cleaning FAQs
- How do I avoid red marks?
- Most red marks on the face are caused by over tightening the CPAP mask. CPAP masks should only be tightened down enough to create a seal. To avoid over tightening your mask, you should work clockwise around the mask, making small adjustments to the headgear, until the mask is securely in place but not overly tight. You should avoid pulling too much on one side of the mask than on the other.
By cleaning your mask cushion, nasal pillows, and nasal prongs on a daily basis, you ensure a better seal each time you put on your mask. If you know you have a mask that fits, and are cleaning it daily, and still have red marks, consider using Mask Straps Pads which are soft covering for the headgear straps.
- How do I reduce mask leaks due to facial sweating?
- Excessive facial sweating can affect the performance of most silicone CPAP masks. As sweat builds between the cushion and your face, the cushion walls tend to break seal and burp or squeal out escaping air.
The RemZzzs Padded Liners are made from a special blend of natural fibers that help to prevent leaks and irritation, while absorbing facial oils and moisture.
- How do I care for my mask?
- Masks should be washed daily with warm water and gentle soap or baby shampoo. Let the mask air dry. Never use antibacterial soap as it will break down the silicone of the mask cushion. Avoid soaps that include lotion which can coat the mask and cause it to lose its seal. A safe cleaner is the Control III Disinfectant CPAP Cleaning Solution. Remember, going to bed with a clean face will improve your seal and protect the lifespan of your mask.
The best time to clean your mask is in the morning after use. This removes the oils left behind from your skin which can reduce the lifespan of your mask. We recommend using Mask Wipes to make daily morning cleaning easy. The mask wipes are made from materials that will not break down your mask.
- What maintenance is required on machines?
- The only care a CPAP or BiPAP machine requires is to clean or change the filters at the air intake. This keeps the internal parts from accumulating dust. Fine paper filters should be changed out every 30 days, or when they appear soiled. Foam washable filters should be rinsed with clear running water once a week, allowed to air dry, and reinserted.
Here are some other suggested actions to care for your machine:
- Keep the area around your machine clean by removing any dust from the area to improve the air quality delivered to your machine and to you.
- Keep the air intake of the machine unblocked. Curtains, bedding, and papers can easily block the air intake of your machine, reducing the airflow.
- If a humidifier is used with your therapy, do not pick up the machine with the humidifier attached. With most machines it is easy to spill water from the humidifier chamber into the machine causing damage. Manufacturer warranties are voided by water damage to the machine. To avoid this, remove the chamber from the humidifier and then remove the humidifier from the machine rather than transporting them together.
- If a humidifier is used, empty the water from the chamber every morning. Accidents happen. If a family pet or family member moves the machine and humidifier with water in the chamber it is more likely that water could be spilled into your machine. Water damage to a machine voids the manufacturer warranty.
- How often should I clean my filters?
- Washable foam filters should be cleaned as soon as they become discolored. Manufacturers recommend foam filters be rinsed weekly under clear running water and allowed to air dry before being reinstalled in the machine. If the machine is used in a very dusty environment, the foam filter may require more frequent cleaning.
Disposable filters are not intended to be cleaned but rather changed out, disposing of the used filter. Manufacturers recommend changing the disposable filter once a month, more frequently if used in a very dusty environment.
- How often should I replace my filters?
- Reusable foam filters should be replaced when they deteriorate and begin to fall apart, much as a sponge does. The foam filter should be washed with a mild detergent monthly and should be replaced every 3 months or more if the foam is torn.
Disposable fine filters should be discarded as soon as they become discolored or at least every 30 days.
Standard disposable filters for ResMed machines should be discarded every month or more often if the machine is in a dusty environment.
Hypoallergenic Disposable Filters for ResMed machines should be discarded every month or more often if the machine is in a dusty environment.
If you live in a house with pets or smoke, you may need to replace the filters more often.
- How do I care for my humidifier?
- To care for your humidifier simply empty and clean the water tank each morning. Only distilled water should be used in the humidifier to avoid mineral deposit build up.
- How do I clean a CPAP hose?
- Your CPAP hose will last longer if it is detached every morning and hung to air dry.
Drying the hose each morning will also prevent bacteria from growing in the damp interior and help reduce the possibility of colds and other health issues. Remember, what is in the hose goes into the airway.
If you are not drying the hose daily, then be sure to replace the hose very frequently as negative health issues will result!
Hose care tips:
- Remove the hose by gripping the end or cuff, not the hose itself
- Hang the hose to dry after each use
- Wash hose weekly to avoid residue and maintain health
- Protect the hose from curious pets
Hose care tools:
- A Hose Quick Connect helps the tube to easily disconnect from the humidifier
- The Tube Cleaning System is a tube care kit to rinse, soak and dry the hose.
- The CPAP Tube Brush Second Gen is used to scrub the inside of a tube. It is available for both slim line and standard diameter hoses.
- A SnuggleHose Cover wraps the length of the tube in soft fleece material. Although its intention is to help reduce rainout (water collecting in the tube) many CPAP users report it deters pets from using the hose as a chew toy. The SnuggleHose is available for 6 foot; 8 foot and 10 foot hoses.
- Why do I need to use distilled water with in my humidifier chamber?
- Use distilled water to help keep the humidifier chamber clean and mineral deposit free. Tap water should not be used as it will leave hard white mineral deposits in the chamber as the water evaporates, or it may lead to mold growth. Cases of lung disease have been connected to using contaminated well water in a CPAP humidifier.* Source
If distilled water is not available where you live, use bottled water. It will be important to clean the chamber each morning, do not leave standing water in the chamber between uses.
- Why is my face breaking out around my nose?
- Sores, redness and bumps around your nose can be caused by one of three main reasons: facial oils are building up under the mask material; the mask is overly tight; or the mask material is causing an allergic reaction.
A breakout can occur from the facial oils building up under the mask at night. You can help minimize this by washing your face before putting on the mask at night and by cleaning the facial oils off the mask every morning. If you are still experiencing a breakout, you might consider Nasal Pillow Masks. The nasal pillow design has less material in direct contact with the skin.
Sores at the bridge of the nose or below the nose are usually due to tightening the headgear straps too much. The pressure will create soreness, then a bruise, and may eventually create an open sore if left untreated. Your mask should seal when worn comfortably. If you have to over tighten your mask to get a good seal, consider switching to another mask type. To avoid over tightening your mask, you should work clockwise around the mask, making small adjustments to the headgear, until the headgear is securely in place but not overly tight. You should avoid pulling too much on one side of the mask than on the other.
Most masks are made of silicone, which is an inert substance. But silicone is manufactured in chemicals to which some people are allergic. The chemicals normally degrade and disperse over time, but may cause a reaction when first used. The solution is to remove surface chemicals before using the mask. Washing the mask will reduce or eliminate the problem. This process can be accelerated by long soaks in warm soapy water. This method can be used with all types of masks, and should also be applied to mask replacement parts. While soaking the mask will help remove the surface chemicals, it my reduce the life of the silicone.
- What is Control III Disinfectant Germicide?
- This is a hospital grade germicide and disinfectant. It contains an extremely effective formula that has two unique quaternary compounds that act as a broad-spectrum disinfectant.
- Is Control III used extensively for respiratory therapy home care?
- Nationally, Control III is the trusted product of choice for disinfecting home care respiratory supplies and equipment.
- What is exhalation relief?
- Exhalation relief is a comfort feature which reduces the air flow at the time of exhalation, making the breathing process more natural. Philips Respironics and ResMed are the two manufacturers who offer exhalation relief features.
- Philips Respironics = C-Flex, C-Flex+, A-Flex and Bi-Flex
- Resmed = EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief)
- What is C-Flex?
- C-Flex is a pressure relief feature that makes breathing back against CPAP pressure easier to do by reducing the pressure at the beginning of exhalation and returning to therapeutic pressure just before inhalation. Independent studies conducted by leading universities indicate that patient comfort, and therefore, patient CPAP compliance, is higher with machines that use C-Flex. C-Flex is a technology invented by Respironics, is proprietary, and is not available on other brands of CPAP machines.
C-Flex Easy Breathing Technology Visual Graph
C-Flex vs. Traditional CPAP: Brown University Study
Cpaptalk.com Interview, C-Flex in the Remstar Pro and Remstar Auto
- What is C-Flex+?
- C-Flex+ is an improved pressure relief technology over the previous C-Flex technology. Like C-Flex, C-Flex+ reduces the pressure at the beginning of exhalation. Like A-Flex, C-Flex+ softens the pressure transition from inhalation to exhalation to provide additional comfort in fixed-CPAP mode.
C-Flex+ Easy Breathing Technology Visual Graph
- What is A-Flex?
- A-Flex is a form of exhalation relief which helps the air pressure from an APAP machine mirror a person's breathing. Like C-Flex, A-Flex provides flow-based pressure relief at the beginning of exhalation. Like Bi-Flex, A-Flex softens the pressure transition from inhalation to exhalation to provide additional comfort in an auto-CPAP mode.
A-Flex Easy Breathing Technology Visual Graph
- What is Bi-Flex?
- Bi-Flex is a feature that makes breathing back against CPAP pressure easier to do. Bi-Flex pressure relief technology offers pressure relief at the transition from exhalation to inhalation, at the transition from inhalation to exhalation, and during exhalation to make BiPAP therapy more like natural breathing.
Bi-Flex Easy Breathing Technology Visual Graph
- What is EPR with Easy-Breathe?
- EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief) is a pressure relief feature developed by ResMed. EPR reduces pressure during exhalation in order to make breathing more comfortable. Easy-Breathe technology applies a smooth waveform that helps make breathing feel more natural.
EPR with Easy Breath Manufacturer Fact Sheet
- How do I avoid getting tangled in CPAP hoses?
There are a few ways to keep from getting tangled up in your CPAP tubing. Try running your CPAP hose behind the headboard of your bed. Also, there are several types of suspension systems we carry here at CPAP.com. You can see the different types of Hose Management Systems under our Comfort & Cleaning section. One example is the HoseBuddy Tangle Free CPAP Hose Suspension System:
Other examples of Hose Management Systems are:
- I sleep on my side or stomach, what are my options?
- Sleeping on your side or stomach is preferable to sleeping on your back because sleeping on your back worsens all forms of sleep-disordered breathing. However, sleeping on your side or stomach can present problems with CPAP therapy. Both positions can put pressure on one side of your mask increasing your leak rate. Your options are to (1) try a mask that other side sleepers like (2) try bed pillows made for CPAP users.
- Masks: In our experience, some masks allow for movement in different sleeping positions better than others. See our recommended masks for Active or Side/Stomach Sleepers.
- Special CPAP Pillows: Regular bed pillows can put pressure against the mask and cause leaks. CPAP pillows are made with CPAP users in mind. These special pillows are designed to minimize the contact of the CPAP mask with the pillow, even when you are sleeping on your side.
- Masks: In our experience, some masks allow for movement in different sleeping positions better than others. See our recommended masks for Active or Side/Stomach Sleepers.
- How do I stop mask leaks?
- Air leaks can be caused by masks that are too big, too old, or simply the wrong style.
Air leaking into the eyes is usually an indication that the mask is too big (long or wide) as are leaks at the base of the nose. Leaks may also occur under the nose due to facial hair.
As the silicone in the mask cushion ages, it deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold a seal. For many masks, the cushion may be removed and replaced to extend the life of the mask. View our Replacement Part Finder to see if a replacement cushion is available for your mask.
When a cushion has softened to the point where it will no longer hold a seal, you may be able to tighten it enough to stop the leaking when you go to sleep, but during the night the seal will loosen and leak.
Mask leaks may also be caused by the pillow pushing against the mask and changing the position and seal of the mask. There are special CPAP Pillows which are are designed to minimize the contact of the CPAP mask with the pillow, even when you are sleeping on your side.
- Why do I wake up with dry eyes?
- Air leaking from the mask at the bridge of the nose and over the eyes during sleep will cause the eyes to dry out. The most common reason for air leaking at the nose bridge is that the mask is too big or too long for the nose.
We would suggest you resize your mask to be sure you have the best fit. A mask that has an adjustment at the bridge may also be helpful in getting a good fit. Nasal pillow or nose cushion devices which do not rest on the nose are also an option.
It is not advisable to tighten the headgear to eliminate the air leak. Pressure from a mask that is too tight will cause bruises and even open sores if applied long enough.
- Why might I want to use Aromatherapy with my Machine?
- Pleasant smells induce strong feelings of calm, comfort, and relaxation. The sense of smell is part of the brain's emotional centers and cognitive distraction (the ability to exclude other distracting stimuli) is an important feature of human olfaction.
Some people do not like the "machine" smell which can be delivered from the machine. The aromatherapy can help control the scent you smell when going to sleep.
Some people tend to feel claustrophobic when using their CPAP. Having relaxing scents delivered through the machine can reduce the anxiety levels to reach a higher comfort level.
CPAP Aromatherapy consists of a variety of different essential oils which are applied to the included diffuser pad and placed in front of the machine's air intake. You should not apply essential oils directly to the machine filter, because it would break down the machine filter. You should also not add the essential oil to the humidifier chamber water, because it can damage your humidifier chamber.
- Are essential oils safe?
- Essential oils are derived from botanical elements (citrus, leaves, flowers, herbs, etc.) through a simple distillation technique. CPAP Aromatherapy only uses the highest, therapeutic-grade quality, 100% pure essential oils. All of the essential oils used in CPAP therapy are disclosed on the label. CPAP.com uses only those essential oils that are listed on the "Generally Recognized as Safe" for human consumption list maintained by the FDA.
Please do not use this product if you have concerns about possible allergic reactions or other effects from exposure to essential oils. While essential oils are safe for human consumption, they are pure, undiluted and might cause irritation when applied directly to the skin or mucous membranes. It is strongly advised to keep essential oils out of the reach of children and please avoid all direct contact with eyes and mucous membranes. You should wash off essential oils with warm, soapy water.
- Is it safe to use essential oils all night?
- Indeed. People quickly become acclimated to the scents and research has shown that the olfactory sense basically turns off while you are asleep. You will smell the pleasant aroma when you need it the most; while relaxing and falling asleep and also again when you awaken. Remember, we are talking about extremely small quantities of aromatics (a little goes a long way) and all of the essential oils sold on CPAP.com are considered safe for human consumption by the FDA.
- Can aromatherapy work with my APAP, VPAP, BiLevel?
- CPAP Aromatherapy is compatible with all CPAP and BIPAP machines. Aromatherapy releases a minute amount of fragrance into the air prior to being taken into your CPAP/BIPAP machine. Place the diffuser near the air-intake and turn your machine on.
- Can I use cotton balls?
- It is highly advised that you do not use any other materials besides the supplied Diffusion Pads, which are specifically engineered for use in the diffuser. There is a risk that any other materials may become dislodged or cause problems and the rates of diffusion could also differ if other materials are used.
- Can I re-use the diffusion pads?
- Diffusion Pads are made of durable fabrics and may be hand-washed and re-used. Simply wash with a mild detergent, rinse well, and air dry.
- Are these products approved by the FDA?
- The CPAP Aromatherapy products are not medications nor are they medical devices. They are considered "cosmetics" under the US Federal Food and Drug Act and related regulations. While there is certainly evidence that some essential oils might have a therapeutic value (for instance lavender oil potentially improving deep sleep), essential oils used for their aromatic qualities are regulated by the FDA as cosmetics. CPAP Aromatherapy products are in full compliance with FDA laws and regulations pertaining to cosmetics.
- Why am I getting sores inside my nose?
- Sores inside the nose may be caused by nasal pillow or nasal prong devices that are too big or the wrong shape for your nose.
If you use nasal pillows, try the smallest size available that seals around your nares. Your nose might also be sensitive to the presence of the nasal pillows, and it might take time for your nose to "toughen up" and adjust to the nasal pillows. Try switching back and forth between the nasal pillow mask and a nasal mask. You might also try Nose Lubricants to reduce the irritation.
Nasal prongs must be inserted into the nostrils and seal tightly, so they may cause irritation or sores. It may be just a matter of your nose "toughening up" over time, so try switching back and forth between the nasal prong device and a nasal mask. If the sores do not heal, we suggest you discontinue using the nasal prongs.
Sores inside the nose may also be caused by the CPAP air drying out the mucous membrane. Adding moisture with a Heated Humidifier may help alleviate the problem.
- Why am I congested from CPAP use?
- The primary reason nasal passages can dry out from CPAP use is lack of adequate humidification.
CPAP air is an irritant - to one degree or another - to everyone. The irritation may cause the nasal passages to dry out and bleed, or the mucous membranes may try to protect the nasal passages by producing excess mucous, resulting in congestion. The irritation can be cumulative, developing over time. Furthermore, dry, cracked or bleeding nasal passages are a breeding ground for infection.
Add a Heated Humidifier to add moisture to the CPAP air and reduce or eliminate the irritation. A passover humidifier may not offer enough moisture. If you are already using a heated humidifier, try turning it up to a higher setting. If that produces condensation in the six foot hose, you should try an Insulating Cover for the hose. You can also try using a Nose Lubricant to reduce the dryness.
You can also try using a Sinus Rinse before going to bed and again once you wake in the morning to help clear your sinuses.
- What can I do for sinus and congestion relief?
- A lot of new CPAP users report having an increase in sinus congestion after starting CPAP therapy. When treating your obstructive sleep apnea, sinus congestion presents a roadblock to healthy breathing. CPAP air is an irritant - to one degree or another - to everyone. The irritation may cause the nasal passages to dry out and bleed, or the mucous membranes may try to protect the nasal passages by producing excess mucous and so congestion results.
The best option is to add a Heated Humidifier to add moisture to the CPAP air and reduce or eliminate the irritation. If you are already using a heated humidifier, try turning it up to a higher setting. If that produces condensation in the six foot hose, you should try an Insulating Cover for the hose. Other options are to:
- Wait and see if humidification adjustments help decrease the congestion.
- Visit your the ENT (ear nose and throat) doctor, and let them know you are on CPAP therapy.
- Try using a Sinus Rinse before going to bed and again once you wake in the morning to help clear your sinuses.
- What is rainout?
- Rainout is the accumulation of water in a CPAP tube due to warm moist air cooling and condensing on its way from your CPAP machine to your CPAP mask.
The image below from Fisher & Paykel explains how rainout is formed. Warm, moist air leaves the heated humidifier and travels through the CPAP tube. As air flows through the tube, the temperature of the room causes the tube to cool. As the tube cools, the air inside releases its moisture, and creates condensation in the hose.
Solutions to rainout include:
- Raise the temperature of your bedroom.
- Keep your CPAP machine at the same level as your bed.
- Insulate your tubing with a hose cover like Snugglehose.
- Reduce the tempurature setting on your heated humidifier.
- Purchase a CPAP machine with a rainout reduction comfort feature.
- Some machine systems offer a compatible heated CPAP hose which maintains the temperature from the machine all the way to the mask, reducing the occurrence of rainout. The list of available heated hoses can be found here: Hoses With Heating Coils.
- If your machines uses a standard hose, consider the ComfortLine Heated Tubing Kit.
- Why is there water in the six foot CPAP hose?
- Water collects in the six foot hose when the ambient room air is much colder than the heated CPAP air, or when there is too much moisture being produced by the humidifier.
First, be sure that no vents or fans blow directly onto the CPAP hose.
Next, try turning down the temperature on the heated humidifier. If that alleviates the problem but causes irritation to the nasal passages, return the humidifier to the previous setting and add an Insulating Cover to the hose.
If neither response works, try using a heated CPAP hose.
- What is a hose cover?
- A hose cover is placed over the hose in order to insulate the hose and to make the hose more comfortable. The simplest and most cost effective way to insulate a CPAP hose is to wrap it in an insulating fabric. This enables the hose to remain flexible and adds little weight.
Companies such as Snugglehose provide a cost effective tubing insulation available in several colors and styles. Not only will the covers reduce or eliminate rainout, they also provide a more personal and less institutionalized appearance. An example of a Snugglehose is shown below.
- Why would I want to insulate my CPAP hose?
- Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. If warm air from a heated humidifier cools while moving through the CPAP hose, water will condense inside the hose rather than travel to the user. The condensation that accumulates inside the CPAP hose is referred to as "rainout."
Insulating the CPAP hose will help maintain the moisture in the airflow all the way to the mask.
- Do machines come with Rainout Reduction features?
- Yes. Manufacturers have been working on developing ways to reduce rainout to better deliver humidification.
The Hybernite Rainout Control System can be used with any CPAP machine to reduce or eliminate rainout.
ResMed has developed Climate Control technology. The Climate Control system is made up of the combination of the S9 machines, H5i heated humidifier, and the ClimateLine heated tubing. Air is delivered at the temperature requested while five sensors, including one close to the mask, monitor multiple conditions to provide optimal humidification to avoid condensation.
Philips Respironics has developed System One 60 Series Heated Tube Humidity Control technology. System One Humidity Control technology tracks room temperature and adjusts the heat throughout the system to avoid condensation.
Fisher & Paykel has developed Thermostart Technology and Ambient Tracking Technology. Thermostart technology is a unique heated hose which maintains the warm environment for the airflow to prevent condensation. Ambient Tracking Technology monitors the ambient temperature and adjusts heat to maintain the most effective humidification, given the ambient conditions.
- How will The Bedfan stop my night sweats?
- Night Sweats generate significant heat that causes extreme sweating while you sleep. The Bedfan helps to cool down your body with a constant, gentle flow of air that lowers the temperature of your body and reduces unnecessary sweating.
Dr. Oz recommended the Bedfan for help reducing night sweats. See the video segment here: Dr Oz's Remedies for Night Sweats
- How can I get help from a CPAP expert?
- By Live Chat: Click on the Chat now field in the lower right hand corner of the CPAP.com page. If after hours, click Leave a message to enter your question and we will get back in touch with you.
- By Phone: 800.356.5221 (8 AM - 10 PM CST Mon-Fri; 8 AM - 6 PM CST Sat)
- Email Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By Fax: 866.353.2727
- Could not find what you were looking for? Please send us your question. Question Submission Form
Comfort & Cleaning Video
- How to Clean and Maintain CPAP Equipment | CPAP Machine and Mask Care
- How to Clean and Maintain your CPAP Equipment
- Tube Management
- Chinstraps for CPAP Masks Introduction
- C-Flex Introduction Part 1
- C-Flex Introduction Part 2
- C-Flex Introduction Part 3
- C-Flex Introduction Part 4
- Contour CPAP Pillow
- How the Hybernite Rainout Control System Works
CPAP Users Say
CPAPtalk.com CPAP User Discussions
Did You Know, Comfort & Cleaning
- CPAP equipment should be kept clean to avoid health issues like colds.
- If you are waking up with red marks, visit our page on Skin Irritation Products to view padded mask straps and mask liners intended to prevent sores and pressure marks.
Comfort & Cleaning Articles
CPAPtalk.com Wiki Articles
- List of CPAP Essentials
- Nasal Pillow Comfort Hints
- Addressing Pain on the Bridge of the Nose
- Mask Leaks
- Don't Forget Your Partner: Make CPAP Comfy for All
- Cleaning CPAP Hoses
- How to Minimize Mask Discomfort
- Cleaning CPAP Equipment
- It's Not "Just" Comfort
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