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How to Clean a CPAP Machine

Therapy compliance is a large part of maintaining effective treatment for sleep apnea. From choosing the right mask to establishing a nightly routine, there are several factors that can impact compliance. Among these, and often overlooked, is the importance of learning how to clean a CPAP machine and related equipment. Over time, mold, bacteria, dust, and even dead skin cells build up within your mask, tubing, and even the machine itself. Left unchecked, these pose a risk to your health and can reduce the quality of your treatment as well as the lifespan of your equipment.

Click the links below to see a specific section or keep scrolling to read our full list of recommendations for cleaning CPAP equipment, including how often you should clean your CPAP.

  1. How to Clean CPAP Machines
  2. How to Clean a CPAP Mask
  3. How to Clean a CPAP Hose
  4. How to Clean a CPAP Water Tank
  5. Is Cleaning a CPAP with Vinegar OK?

How to Clean CPAP Machines

Recommended Frequency: Every 2-4 weeks

Just like anything else around the house, dust and grime will build up on your CPAP machine over time thanks to daily handling and exposure. Fortunately, it's easy to keep clean.

  1. Unplug the machine to ensure your safety and prevent damage while cleaning.
  2. Disconnect the tubing and humidifier to access the machine directly.
  3. Gently wipe the surface of the machine using a lightly damp soft cloth or CPAP wipes.
  4. Dry the machine with a clean towel or washcloth.

The goal of cleaning the machine itself is to remove dust, grime, and fingerprints, especially around connection points for your tubing and humidifier. Do not submerge the machine in water, as this can cause significant damage.

How to Clean a CPAP Mask

Recommended Frequency: Every week (minimum)

Along with tubing, your CPAP mask will need to be cleaned most frequently. Through use, your mask will collect bacteria and other pathogens as you breathe, plus oils and dead skin cells from your face. For your personal health, as well as to ensure a proper seal on your mask, we recommend cleaning your CPAP mask at least once a week and as often as every day, especially if you're sick.

  1. Power off your machine, disconnect your mask, and disassemble it into its three components (frame, headgear, and cushion).
  2. Prepare a mixture of warm water plus CPAP mask soap or a regular mild soap of choice.
  3. Gently scrub each piece of your mask with the mixture, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  4. Place each piece out to dry on a clean towel, and ensure they've dried fully before reassembling for use.

Cleaning a CPAP Hose and Tubing

Recommended Frequency: Every week

Just like your mask, your CPAP hose will accumulate bacteria and debris through daily use. Learning how to clean a CPAP hose properly will help prevent buildup over time, reducing the likelihood of health issues and ensuring more effective therapy.

  1. Power off your CPAP and disconnect the tubing from both the machine and your mask.
  2. Using the same mixture of warm water and mild soap, thoroughly rinse both the inside and outside of your tubing.
  3. To help remove any debris within the tubing, use a CPAP tube brush.
  4. Rinse thoroughly one more time and allow it to air dry. If possible, position the hose upright so water can drain out rather than pool inside.
  5. Do not reconnect tubing to your mask and machine until all parts are dry.

How to Clean a CPAP Water Tank

Recommended Frequency: Every week

CPAP humidifiers are a common accessory used to help reduce the likelihood of experiencing dry mouth as a side effect of nightly therapy. Like any other component or accessory you use, it needs to be cleaned regularly.

  1. Unplug your machine and disconnect the humidifier tank.
  2. Place the tank in the same mixture of warm water with mild soap or a CPAP solution and let it soak for up to 30 minutes.
  3. Remove it from the water and rinse thoroughly with water to remove any soap or debris.
  4. Leave it out to dry on a clean towel.

Is Cleaning a CPAP with Vinegar OK?

According to Healthline, vinegar is not officially registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a disinfectant. It does contain 5% acetic acid, which means it can kill some common types of pathogens (e.g salmonella and E. coli) but doesn't have the strength to kill others such as COVID-19. Primarily, the slightly acidic properties of vinegar are helpful in dissolving debris and buildup, and it is safe to use vinegar to clean your CPAP equipment with that purpose.

  1. Use one part vinegar and four parts distilled warm water to create a cleaning solution.
  2. Let your mask (excluding padding), hoses, and humidifier tank sit in the mixture for up to 30 minutes.
  3. Remove and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  4. Allow your components to air dry fully before reassembling for use.

Final Cleaning Tips

Learning how to clean a CPAP machine will play an important role in the quality of your nightly therapy and in extending the lifespan of your equipment. Just like brushing your teeth or doing laundry, the key is to develop a routine that works for you. If you have any questions about the steps we laid out above or about any of our products, don't hesitate to reach out to our customer service team for help.

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