Last updated: January 27, 2017
So, you’ve got your CPAP machine and mask, you’ve begun therapy, and everything is going well, but you find yourself wondering how to clean your CPAP machine. In this article, I will cover several methods of cleaning your CPAP equipment along with what products work the best as a CPAP machine cleaner. But first, let’s clarify why cleaning and sanitizing your equipment is so important.
Table of Contents
The Importance Of Cleaning CPAP Equipment
There are many different negative consequences from not cleaning your CPAP equipment. These range from consequences to your health, to machine malfunctions, to general discomfort in use.
Even though the CPAP machine is a relatively clean device, it can pick up a wide range of bacteria and viruses from the air inside your home and moisture from your humidifier. The objects that we touch on a daily basis, like a computer or door handle, have been proven to contain more germs and bacteria than the outdoors. Your CPAP machine circulates all of this into pressurized air delivered directly to your lungs.
For this reason, it is paramount that you clean your CPAP machine and equipment often. The above-mentioned bacteria can lead to a common cold or more serious issues such as respiratory infections. It is not uncommon to experience congestion, skin irritation, sneezing, runny nose, and a sore throat if your equipment is not sanitized often. In older people, though, these mishaps can cause even more serious complications.
There is no consensus as to how often you should clean your equipment. The options range from cleaning everything once a day to once a week. The general consensus is that cleaning once a week is more than enough if you let everything dry out after each nightly use. However, there is an exception – if you already have a cold, or another respiratory illness, it is recommended that you clean your equipment daily due to the buildup of bacteria.
There is a variety of CPAP machine cleaners to choose from such as CPAP wipes, SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner, washing kits, or hand washing.
SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer
- Kills 99.9% of bacteria
- Easy to use
- Cleans using ozone
- Cleans without disassembly
The easiest CPAP machine cleaner is the SoClean 2. It kills 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses, and mold. It is also very straight forward to use, but it tends to be a bit pricey. The magic behind the SoClean 2 Cleaner and Sanitizer is that it generates activated oxygen, i.e. ozone. Ozone is one of the most effective ways for natural disinfection, and it is used in various applications such as sanitizing hospitals, cleaning produce, and sanitizing drinking water.
The best part about this method is that you don’t have to take your equipment apart. You can just put it in the sanitizer, set your timer, adjust the settings to your needs, and voila – you can go about your daily routine knowing that, in a little over two hours, your CPAP machine is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. The SoClean also works with all types of PAP machines. To learn more about this product, read our in-depth review.
Wipes are a relatively practical solution for cleaning your CPAP equipment. They are а good solution for the removal of natural face oils and dead skin that can collect. If you opt to use CPAP wipes, you also have the benefit of having a wide variety of choices. There are many brands on the market that provide numerous types of wipes such as scented, moisturized, or unscented. Almost all of them are made of 100% pure cotton and are alcohol and latex free.
Citrus Magic Wipes
- Acts as a deodorizer
The scented wipes act as a deodorizer as well but, when using them, you should check for allergies or sensitivities to certain fragrances. The important factor to note is that the CPAP wipes can only go so far. They might be convenient and practical, but you really shouldn’t rely solely on them. A thorough wash of the CPAP equipment is needed periodically as well. This should be done either with the SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer or manually with dish soap.
Cleaning Your CPAP Equipment By Hand
If you opt to do your cleaning manually, it might prove to be more of a chore, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as effective. To wash your CPAP equipment, you will need either distilled white vinegar or liquid dish soap with water. A lot of people prefer liquid dish soap over vinegar due to the bad smell that vinegar leaves, but that really depends on which part of your equipment you are cleaning.
For the mask and water chamber, it is a lot easier to just use soap and water. For the hose, vinegar might be easier. Never use irritating substances such as rubbing alcohol or bleach. Even though these may clean your CPAP effectively, they are harsh and may damage your items. Also, if you don't rinse them off thoroughly, you might cause harm to yourself.
How To Clean CPAP Mask
If you want to learn how to clean your CPAP mask, follow the simple steps below. I recommend doing this at least once a week. If you have a lot of rainouts, I would recommend every other day.
- Detach the mask cushion from the frame.
- Apply a dab of dish soap to your finger, and lightly scrub the inside of your mask.
- Rinse your mask under warm water while continuing to scrub with your finger.
- Keep rinsing until all the dish soap is washed away.
- Shake your mask up and down to remove water.
- Set your mask cushion on a towel to air dry.
Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid
- Lasts a long time
- Many use cases
I recommend using a non-scented fragrance free natural dish soap to clean your CPAP equipment. Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid is the top-rated natural dish soap on Amazon. A 3-pack should last at least one year.
How To Clean CPAP Water Chamber
I recommend using the Seventh Generation Natural Dish Soap to clean your CPAP water tank as well. Follow these steps at least once a week.
- Rinse the inside of your water chamber with warm water.
- Pour a small amount of fragrance-free dish soap into the chamber.
- Fill the chamber up to 3/4 full.
- Close the lid and shake for 10 seconds.
- (Optional) You can let it sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
- Dump out the soap water and refill with fresh water.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until all soap is gone (water is no longer bubbling up is a good sign.)
- Wipe the inside down with a CPAP wipe to make sure all bacteria was removed.
- Set the water chamber on a towel in an open position facing downward to help drain excess water.
How To Clean CPAP Hose
The hose is tricky to clean and takes some practice to avoid messes. Vinegar or natural dish soap is recommended to clean your hose. Not everyone likes a vinegar smell; however, bubbling dish soap makes things slippery and messy for this task.
- Grab both ends of the hose so it's in a U shape and both ends are pointed toward the sky.
- Pour a generous amount of vinegar or soapy water in one end.
- Shake vigorously, but be aware if you don't have one end covered, liquid will come flying out.
- Shake for a few minutes.
- Dump out the cleaner.
- (Optional) Use a CPAP hose cleaner for additional cleaning.
- Fill up hose with water and shake vigorously again.
- Repeat step 6 until all vinegar and soap has been cleaned off.
- Hang the hose in a well air circulated room for several hours before using.
Filters should be checked monthly and replaced every six months, or when they appear dirty. Find a list of available CPAP filters here.
CPAP Machine Cleaning Conclusion
Yes, it is another chore to keep your CPAP equipment clean, but it is a necessity for your health. You have several options as I have pointed out above. After using any CPAP machine cleaner, you should wait several hours before using your CPAP machine.
My recommendation is to use the SoClean 2 as it will save you a lot of time in the long run. Even if you do use a SoClean machine, you should still periodically do the manual wash to remove any buildup of debris.