How to Clean Your CPAP

It is important that your CPAP machine is cared for in a proper way in order to protect yourself as well as your device. There are certain things that you will need to do in order to clean and care for your CPAP.

You use your CPAP for eight hours per night. Room air goes in to the machine, filter, tube, mask and nose. Then exhaled air goes back into the mask, tube, and machine.

In that exhaled air is moisture from your body. Microorganisms thrive on moisture and particulate matter.

You might now know how to clean your CPAP yet. Fortunately, it is a relatively simple process.

The dangers of a dirty CPAP machine

If you don’t clean your CPAP,  and CPAP supplies (mask, tube, headgear), then your equipment could begin to grow colonies of bacteria. This could cause your equipment to acquire a foul odor and possibly lead to premature equipment breakdown.

With with inadequate cleaning of your cpap mask and equipment, nasty growth and smells will accumulate. A smelly mask and CPAP machine is less likely to be used.

Sleep Apnea CPAP Machine Cleaner and Sanitizer

There are a few CPAP cleaner machines that have recently been introduced that clean and/or sanitize CPAP machines and masks.  Some of these devices use activated oxygen or ozone as the method for killing bacteria in and around the equipment. You simply place the mask inside of the device and it cleans it without water or soap.

List of CPAP Cleaner Machines:

Steps for cleaning your CPAP machine and mask

It is important to clean your mask, headgear, and tube regularly.

The most important part of cleaning is simply rinsing the equipment with water. You can use a faucet and run water over the equipment for a minute. There are some cleaning fluids that may be acceptable for your device. Check with your instruction manual before performing any of these tasks.

The second most important part of cleaning your CPAP and CPAP supplies is letting the equipment dry properly. Make sure that standing water can drip out of the tube. You can hang your tube so that it drapes down to the ground allowing all water to drip out of it. Manually drying exterior surfaces will speed up the process.

Keep in mind that CPAP masks and CPAP tubes are not designed to last forever. Many sleep professionals recommend that CPAP masks and tubes be replaced yearly, if not sooner. The CPAP machine filter should be replaced even more frequently Some recommend that CPAP filters be replaced monthly.

CPAP Cleaner equipment
CPAP Cleaner equipment

CPAP cleaner products may help you to keep your equipment clean and/or sanitized for maximum performance. Check with your instruction manuals before using any products.

How to Clean Your CPAP Hose with Vinegar

There are some that recommend cleaning the CPAP hose with vinegar +/- soapy water half and half. Your product manual will mention which products you should use with your CPAP hose.

Remember that the CPAP filter has a specific purpose – to filter out particulate matter that you don’t want to breathe in. If you live in a dusty area, your filter will need to be replaced more frequently.

Summary for keeping you CPAP Machine , CPAP  Mask and hose clean

Keeping your CPAP equipment clean will help to maintain its longevity and possibly keep you healthier. Following your user manual recommendations and investing a little time and effort will save you money and improve outcomes.


17 Replies to “How to Clean Your CPAP”

  1. David

    As others have stated, the cpap cleaning machines use either ozone or UV light to sanitize. Some websites say you still need to wash/clean the wet parts of the cpaps (water reservoir, hose, mask) before you sanitize them. Other replies here have commented on ozone machines like the SoClean and concerns about ozone. It seems the SoClean would be the easiest and most thorough to use since it circulates the ozone through all the components other than the blowing main part of the cpap. The problem with UV light is that the UV has to directly hit surfaces to sanitize them, so it doesn’t hit inside the hose or mask, etc.. UV seems like it would miss the key surfaces that need to be sanitized, other than the water reservoir and outside of the mask.
    I’ve used cpap for many years every night and find it as great for sleeping as glasses are for seeing. I infrequently wash any components due to my laziness and not having or seeing problems. But I think I need to start washing weekly or so with white vinegar and water. I do periodically (1-3 months) rinse the air filter with water and dry it well before leaving it to finish air drying. Sometimes I rinse the mask with water. I have always used only distilled water in the water reservoir and have never seen any slime or mineral build up. When I awake, I take off the mask, let the cpap blow for several seconds to flush out water vapor, turn off the cpap, remove the water reservoir & take off its top to let it air dry above the water line or sometimes pour out the water if there is not much, then let it air dry. I leave the top of the cpap part that holds the water reservoir open to let it better air dry, then I close it an hour or so later. I do not place the water reservoir back into the machine until the next night in order to reduce the chances of having a humid atmosphere to grow bad stuff. I change the mask and headgear only when they stop working properly, which might be a year or more. I don’t recall the last time I changed the hose, maybe 2-4 years ago.
    I think the key points are to always use distilled water and try to leave things to air dry during the non-use time. If there were not concerns by others about the ozone, I’d try the SoClean machine. I’ll get some white vinegar next time I go to the grocery store and will try to improve (begin) my washing habits at least weekly. Vinegar is very cheap, so I don’t expect to buy any special stuff marketed for cpaps (probably just 99% marketing).

  2. Jimmy Durante

    Based on my 1 year’s experience, with no problems of any sort:
    — Always use distilled water. When I have used tap water, there were mineral deposits in the reservoir.
    — Reservoir (1): Empty it every morning and leave it open to air out. (If there is still a fair bit of water left, I might leave it in rather than wasting it.)
    — Reservoir (2): Per my supplier’s advice, I clean it weekly (or less often) with some white vinegar.
    — Slime? If every day you (1) use distilled water and (2) empty and air out the reservoir, I don’t see how you could have “slime” in the reservoir.
    — Hose (1): Weekly (or less) I fill the hose with hot water and swish it back and forth. Then I hang it to dry. I haven’t decided if this is optimal. The above article doesn’t say anything about rinsing out the soap they recommend–seems that might leave a soap smell.
    — Hose (2): My machine blows for a few minutes after it’s turned off. It seems to me this isn’t helpful unless the reservoir is completely dry.
    — Hose (3): Now I have two hoses and masks. I plan to rotate them daily in the summer.
    — Hose (4): I think the main concern is to prevent moisture from sitting in the hose for 16 hours a day.
    –Mask: I use a “pillow.” I just run very hot water on it at least weekly to remove any oils it may get from skin contact. It seems to me that it is best to avoid any chemicals on something that has skin contact for 8 hours daily.

  3. Anonymous

    The CPAP cleaners use ozone or UV light to sanitize equipment.
    I did a search on ozone CPAP cleamer and found from several sources that ozone breaks down synthetic substances such as rubber, plastic, possibly electronics. Silicone and nylon seem not to be affected. Ozone doesn’t clean out debris, ‘slime’, mold or corrosion caused by not using distilled water.
    Ozone units should not replace manual cleaning with soap and water using a clean cloth (I use clean paper towels) or a brush (denture brush works great for mine).
    Do a search on ‘ozone to clean cpap’ or such but keep in mind that the manufacturers are there to sell them (on their own websites).
    Ozone gas can cause headaches and is toxic in large amounts.

  4. Sharon Brueck

    I just fill the reservoir with vinegar let it sit on the counter for a few hours and then I rinse it with a little dish soap and water. No need to use any brush, the vinegar cleans it all. Even the slime comes right out of the crevices.

  5. Marti

    Reservoir. Cleaning the slime out of the crevices. I purchased a soft brush but still have difficulty getting it clean. What and how is it recommend to clean.

    • Anonymous

      I put a bit of vinegar in the reservoir and let it sit, then swap it out with a paper towel. While I am doing that, my tube, face mask, and removable reservoir are soaking in a vinegar/water solution. I let them dry and use my alternate set for a week or so.

    • Anonymous1

      Use a soft bristle brush like for paints/art. It’s round and can get into the corners. Use a mix of vinegar and distilled water to clean with.

  6. Maureen

    Does Medicare cover any part of the charges for the SoClean machine? Both my husband and I are retired and on a fixed income so the costs for the machine and supplies is a bit high.

    Thanks

    • Mel

      No insurance does not cover the SoClean machine at this time. The company doesn’t make it easy for people on a fixed income to buy this. Current price is over $300.00.

  7. Kent Smith

    Why can’t I find any independent scientific based research on the SoClean CPAP cleaning machine? I’m considering buying a unit but would like to be an informed consumer (particularly since the units cost $300).

      • Anonymous1

        2 of my co-workers swear by theirs.
        I’m buying one. They use o3 (oxygen) to clean and dry the mask, tube, etc. oxygen/oxidizer kills germ/bacteria/etc.
        One co-works brother used regular water and half cleaned and got bronchitis. Started using distilled water as recommended and the SoClean never been sick again.

  8. Juel Caspersen

    You can clean the black filter that is handy to get at. Be sure to wash with soap and water, rinse real good, let it air dry before you replace it.
    The white filter must be replaced with a new one.

  9. Deborah

    I plan on travelling and I understand there are more compact models of CPAP machines that are easier to transport. Are these models just as effective as regular models . What are the differences. and who has models available.

    • TIm Raub

      I have a travel machine I bought at wal mart on line for about $190.00. No water reservoir but OK for short trips. About a 8 inch cube ts very small.

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