CPAP Therapy

Everything You Need to Know About CPAP Cleaning

Introduction

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:

  1. Change your filters regularly
  2. 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
  • Water

Pro Tips:

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:

  • Vinegar
  • Mild Soap
  • Water

Pro Tips:

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
  • Water

Pro Tips:

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
  • Water

Pro Tips:

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:

  1. Using a damp cloth, gently wipe the outside of the machine, removing any dust or debris that may have collected on the outside casing
  2. 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.

  1. Remove the headgear from the mask
  2. Gently wash the headgear in mild soap and water
  3. Allow the headgear to air dry.
  4. 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.
  5. Wipe down the surfaces of the mask with mask wipes.
  6. Allow to air dry.

Alternatively, you could also consider implementing these steps if using Control III Disinfectant:

  1. Wash the headgear using the steps found above, then continue to #2
  2. Mix one ounce of Control III disinfectant per gallon of water, and use the mixture to fill a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the water over all surfaces of the mask cushion, frame, and elbow.
  4. Use a cloth or mask wipes to remove any debris or residue.
  5. Allow to air dry

If using the Lumin, follow these steps:

  1. Wash the headgear using the steps above, then continue on to #2
  2. Use mask wipes or mild soap and water to remove all debris or residue.
  3. When dry, put the mask components in the Lumin.
  4. Close the door completely before starting.
  5. Turn on, allow to run for 5 minutes.
  6. 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.

  1. Create a solution made up of vinegar and water OR a solution made up of mild soap and water.
  2. 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.
  3. Empty the solution out of the hose.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. Remove the humidifier chamber from the humidifier.
  2. Empty out the water.
  3. 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.
  4. Continue scrubbing until all the residue has been removed
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. Make sure you provide adequate time for drying before your next use. Damp equipment can be a breeding ground for mold.
  2. Never use bleach or harsh chemicals on your CPAP equipment. Harsh chemicals pollute your therapy air, and can be toxic to breathe.
  3. Never boil your mask cushion, unless you know for certain that it’s safe to do so.
  4. Be sure to double check your User’s Manual for any product-specific warnings that may impact your cleaning process, before you start cleaning.
  5. 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.

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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.

16 Comments

  1. I clean the mask with a wipe daily, and then do a full sosk and rinse, along with the air tube and humidifier tank once a week. Essential, as the VA only supplies a new mask and air tube every 4-5 months, and a water tank only if it leaks.

  2. Does the Link clean tubing? It didn’t she that in the video. You Ave a description of washing CPAP equipment with soap and water. Does that mean I must do that before using the Limit? Thank you very much for sending me this information. I really appreciate CPAP.com. You guy help me a lot

    .

  3. Kate Brownell Reply

    After having CPAP most of the patients forgets to maintain that, which is necessary. So as you said “CPAP cleaning is a chore”, is it is a regular tusk for those who are using CPAP. Without having cleaned CPAP one must have several problems like, breathing problems, skin rashes, bacterial or fungal contamination. Many thanks for the blog. Just have a question, does soclean really work?

    • Hey Kate, yes. Keeping all of the CPAP supplies and equipment free from bacteria should be top priority. CPAP.com does not sell the So Clean, or any of their products therefore we are not able to assure you that the machine will work to your standards. We have however received quite a bit of feedback from our customers that are very happy with the results from the So Clean. You may be able to read some reviews on the So Clean by visiting https://www.soclean.com/.

      I hope this helps, have a great day!

    • Hi Carla, there isn’t a for certain answer to your question. If you remove your hose in the morning and hang in a dry area, low humidity, it usually dries within a few hours. However, I have spoken with some customers who advise that it can take 2-3 days for their hose to dry, so they resort to purchasing a spare hose, just in case.

      If you are experiencing problems with your hose drying out completely in a timely fashion, you may see the link below to view a product that may assist with drying your hose and other supplies also.

      https://grabby.cpap.com/2019-09-10_151115921-zt155i-1518.png

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, with further question, or concerns.

      Enjoy your day!

  4. I have your c-pap machine. Recently I see a notice asking to service . Please advise what to do. We in Mombasa Kenya do not have a service centre.

    • Hi Dodhia, i’m sorry that you are having some trouble with your CPAP machine. If you would like, you are most welcome to contact our customer service department at: 1-800-356-5221, to do over the phone troubleshooting, as further information on your machine is required to determine if the problem can be resolved, or if a replacement machine is warranted.

      We hope to hear from you soon!

  5. They get you into buy this machine (for you health) then expect you to spend the rest of your day caring for the machine…not worth it!!

  6. hi, do you recommend any other cpap cleaning devices? preferably one that can travel. thanks!

  7. Vanessa Suntjens Reply

    Can you use the cpap with a washed but still slightly damp filter?

    • Hi Vanessa, to avoid damage to your machine, the manufacturer recommends that the filter is completely dry before using your machine.

      For further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a great day!

  8. These recommendations are total overkill. Cleaning the mask once a day is ridiculous. Those fancy $400 machines advertised on TV are a total waste of money. Do some research (avoiding any source that sells something), and you will find that there is no evidence that a cpap machine has ever made anyone sick, ever. In fact, multiple studies failed to show any connection between cpap use and respiratory illness even when the humidifier chamber is seeded with bacteria.

    Clean your filter and hoses every week to 10 days with either warm soapy water or white vinegar. Clean (or swap out) your nasal pillows every three or four days. The rest of the mask can be cleaned once a month or so (if you wore a blindfold to sleep, would you clean it every day?). Anything more than that is wasting time and wearing out your equipment. I’ve had a cpap for eight years.

    • Wow, Tom. I’ve had my CPAP (Dreamstation with humidifier) for about 6 weeks and have had one bad upper respiratory infection — antibiotics needed — within the first 2 weeks, and another cold started this week, for which my MD prescribed prednisone to knock down the inflammation. I can’t imagine not keeping my hose and mask really clean. ‘wish I had your iron constitution.

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