By maintaining a good cleaning routine for your CPAP equipment you’ll experience the following benefits:
- You’ll be less likely to suffer colds and infections.
- If you’re sick, you’ll be less likely to get sick again.
- The air you breathe will be cleaner.
This article covers everything you need to know about keeping your CPAP devices and accessories clean. We’ll discuss what you need to know and show you how to do it. We’ll even go over the new CPAP cleaner devices like the Lumin. Let’s get started!
Reasons to Clean Your CPAP Accessories
We mentioned the benefits of keeping your machine and accessories clean in the paragraph above. Let’s take a deeper dive into these items for a little more information.
Decreased Risk of Colds and Infections
A CPAP mask’s proximity to your mouth and nose make it a breeding ground for germs. What doesn’t get you sick today could quickly make you ill tomorrow if you don’t clean your mask regularly. By implementing a cleaning regimen, you’ll be eliminating a lot of the germs that can get you sick. Your equipment will also smell better, look better, and be more effective if cleaned regularly.
If You’re Sick, You’ll Be Less Likely to Get Sick Again
Nothing’s worse than being sick. But if you don’t clean your CPAP mask, you’ll run the risk of re-infection— just when you’re starting to get better. For nasal pillow mask users, the problem is especially difficult. Nasal pillows seal around the nostrils, which harbor a lot of bacteria from your sinuses during a cold. Because of the pillow’s proximity to the nose, the germs from your mask have a direct path to make you sick again, as you breathe in germs while wearing the mask. Cleaning your CPAP mask is especially important during a cold for this reason.
The Air You Breathe Will Be Cleaner
Clean air is critical to your CPAP success! Since the lungs process the air that comes from the machine; you don’t want germs, dust, bacteria, or allergens in your therapy air. There are two surefire ways to ensure you’re limiting the number of harmful irritants in your therapy air:
- Change your filters regularly
- Clean your CPAP mask, hose, and humidifier chamber regularly.
Your CPAP filters work just like the air filters in your car and home. They remove dust, pollen, and dirt from the air and give you cleaner air that’s better for your lungs. Changing them on time is an important piece of improving the air you breathe. When you clean your mask, hose, and humidifier chamber, you’re removing a lot of the germs that can wind up in your air. Combined with replacing your filters, you’re taking good steps to make the air you breathe healthier. For a complete CPAP replacement schedule, we have created a page that shows exactly when to replace filters and all other CPAP components.
How Often to Clean Your CPAP Accessories
Here’s a quick and simple guide that shows you when to clean the most critical parts of your CPAP therapy equipment.
- CPAP Mask – Clean Every Day
- CPAP Mask Cushion or Pillows – Clean Every Day
- Humidifier Chamber – Empty and Dry Daily, Clean Once a Week
- CPAP Reusable Filters – Clean Once a Week
- CPAP Hose – Hang to Dry Daily, CleanOnce a Week
The CPAP Cleaning Supplies You Need
There are a few essential cleaning supplies that you’ll need to clean your CPAP equipment. We’ll go over what works, as well as offer pro tips that can help make your cleaning even easier.
Cleaning a CPAP Mask / CPAP Mask Cushion
Basic Supplies Needed:
- Mild soap
You may find that mild soap and water cleans but doesn’t do a great job of disinfecting, and can leave germs behind. For a great clean, consider using the following products:
- Control III Disinfectant – CPAP Cleaning Solution – This product is a hospital-grade disinfectant that is added to water for a 100% effective solution.
- Unscented CPAP Mask Wipes – For a clean that’s less harsh than Control III, you could opt to get mask wipes. They’re able to remove debris and deposits while at the same time disinfecting.
- Lumin CPAP Cleaner – The Lumin CPAP Cleaner is a device that uses UV light to sanitize CPAP masks and other CPAP parts, though doesn’t remove any physical debris.
Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to make sure you use it regularly when it comes to your CPAP mask.
Cleaning a CPAP Humidifier Chamber
Basic Supplies Needed:
- Mild Soap
While we recommend that you clean your humidifier chamber once a week, you should do a deep clean once a month using a mixture of vinegar and water. This will help ensure that your humidifier is giving you clean air by helping prevent mineral buildup. Another helpful tip is to empty and dry the chamber daily to make sure fresh water is being used daily.
CPAP Reusable Filters
Basic Supplies Needed:
- Mild Soap
You can wash and reuse your reusable filters up to a point. Eventually, they will begin to deteriorate, and when that happens, they should be replaced. Mild soap and water should be fine for the weekly gentle cleaning of these items.
Cleaning a CPAP Hose
Basic Supplies Needed:
- Mild Soap
Cleaning a CPAP hose is a lot different from cleaning other CPAP accessories (mostly due to length). Here are some additional supplies that can make it easier:
- Tube Brush – This brush has the length to be able to scrub the inside of the CPAP hose and remove any deposits that may be trapped in the hose.
- Control III Disinfectant – CPAP Cleaning Solutions can be used if you soak the hose in a tub that has this solution in it.
- Or, instead of mild soap and water, you could use Vinegar.
How to Clean Your CPAP Machine
We’ve already discussed how to clean the most critical part of the CPAP machine itself, the filters. Cleaning the body of your CPAP machine is reasonably simple:
- Using a damp cloth, gently wipe the outside of the machine, removing any dust or debris that may have collected on the outside casing
- Gently dry with a paper towel
How to Clean Your CPAP Mask
When cleaning your CPAP mask, it’s a good idea to disassemble the mask before beginning your cleaning. Some of the parts of the mask (especially the cushion and elbow) can be difficult to clean if you don’t disassemble the mask entirely before starting. Here are the steps you should follow when cleaning your mask.
- Remove the headgear from the mask
- Gently wash the headgear in mild soap and water
- Allow the headgear to air dry.
- Using mild soap or mask wipes, clean the inside of the cushion, making sure to remove any debris or film that has built up over time.
- Wipe down the surfaces of the mask with mask wipes.
- Allow to air dry.
Alternatively, you could also consider implementing these steps if using Control III Disinfectant:
- Wash the headgear using the steps found above, then continue to #2
- Mix one ounce of Control III disinfectant per gallon of water, and use the mixture to fill a spray bottle.
- Spray the water over all surfaces of the mask cushion, frame, and elbow.
- Use a cloth or mask wipes to remove any debris or residue.
- Allow to air dry
If using the Lumin, follow these steps:
- Wash the headgear using the steps above, then continue on to #2
- Use mask wipes or mild soap and water to remove all debris or residue.
- When dry, put the mask components in the Lumin.
- Close the door completely before starting.
- Turn on, allow to run for 5 minutes.
- When finished, remove your items from the Lumin. They are sanitized.
It’s important to note, the Lumin isn’t like a dishwasher and uses no water, soap, or scrubbing. Any scrubbing has to be done manually. The Lumin works by using UV light to sanitize the components and can only disinfect the surface of the accessories.
How to Clean Your CPAP Hose (Tubing)
Cleaning your CPAP hose is easy, and can be done using the following process.
- Create a solution made up of vinegar and water OR a solution made up of mild soap and water.
- Run this solution through the length of the hose, making sure that the water rinses back and forth several times. One way to do this is to hold the hose so that both ends of the hose point straight up. Gently swish the hose back and forth.
- Empty the solution out of the hose.
- If you have a tube brush, you may use it to clean the inside of the hose and remove any debris, by sliding the length of the tube brush back and forth along the side walls of the hose.
- Hang over a towel rack to drip dry.
How to Clean Your CPAP Humidifier Water Chamber
Lastly, we’ll cover cleaning your CPAP humidifier water chamber.
- Remove the humidifier chamber from the humidifier.
- Empty out the water.
- Using mild soap and water or a mixture of white vinegar and water scrub all surfaces on the inside of the chamber, removing any film that may have collected at the bottom.
- Continue scrubbing until all the residue has been removed
- Carefully refill the humidifier chamber using ONLY distilled water. Using distilled water prevents the buildup of mineral deposits at the bottom of the humidifier chamber making it easier to clean.
- Carefully place the humidifier chamber back into the humidifier
CPAP Cleaning & Sanitizing Machine
Since the release of the Lumin CPAP Cleaner, everyone’s been talking about this device! But before we can introduce it to you, we’ll need to clear up one common misconception: the Lumin isn’t a CPAP cleaner that uses water and soap like a dishwasher. Instead, it uses powerful UV light to sanitize the surface of your CPAP equipment. It will sanitize thoroughly, but it has no mechanism for scrubbing away deposits or debris. You’ll still need to do that by hand. No CPAP cleaner on the market cleans like a dishwasher or makes it so you don’t have to do any scrubbing.
The Lumin is easily one of the most popular CPAP cleaning products to hit the market in recent years. We’ve written a blog post about the Lumin CPAP Cleaner that goes more in-depth about the features and even provides some reviews that can help you find out more.
CPAP Cleaning Best Practices
When cleaning a CPAP machine, it’s important to observe a few important best practices:
- Make sure you provide adequate time for drying before your next use. Damp equipment can be a breeding ground for mold.
- Never use bleach or harsh chemicals on your CPAP equipment. Harsh chemicals pollute your therapy air, and can be toxic to breathe.
- Never boil your mask cushion, unless you know for certain that it’s safe to do so.
- Be sure to double check your User’s Manual for any product-specific warnings that may impact your cleaning process, before you start cleaning.
- Never clean your CPAP equipment while it’s still plugged in.
By following these best practices, you’re going to be able to clean safely and keep your therapy air clean.
Final Thoughts on CPAP Cleaning
CPAP cleaning is an essential part of your CPAP maintenance regimen and is a crucial part of keeping your equipment clean. With such a wide range of cleaning options, keeping your equipment sanitized doesn’t have to be a chore. Once you establish a regular cleaning routine, you’ll find you’ll be healthier overall, your mask will smell less, and you’ll have a more satisfying experience with your CPAP equipment.
Sign up for our newsletter and get coupons and discounts for the latest CPAP equipment, as well as helpful content that can keep you informed on the latest trends in the industry.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.