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CPAP mask laying on a yellow pillow on bed with machine on nightstand in background

When you have obstructive sleep apnea or other difficulties breathing at night, a CPAP machine helps keep your airways clear while you’re asleep. Regular CPAP maintenance keeps your breathing device working efficiently to minimize nighttime disruptions and taking care of your machine is fairly simple if you create a regular schedule for maintenance.

Importance of CPAP Cleaning

Your CPAP machine cleans the air that enters your lungs, so any buildup of bacteria or mold inside the machine can reduce its efficiency and send potentially harmful particles into your body. If you’ve been sick with a respiratory infection, you should clean your CPAP machine thoroughly before using it again.

A Convenient CPAP Maintenance Routine

Create a schedule for regular CPAP maintenance, so you know your machine is always clean and ready for use. Daily cleaning is optimal, but you should at a minimum clean your machine at least once a week. Your CPAP machine should come with instructions on how to clean that specific model, but a general maintenance routine typically includes:

  • Disassembling the unplugged machine and disconnecting the mask from the tubing
  • Removing the water chamber, if your model has one, and disassembling it as much as possible
  • Wiping down the exterior surface of your CPAP machine with a soft, damp cloth to get rid of dust and debris
  • Soaking the mask, tubing, headgear, and connectors in soapy water for about 30 minutes
  • Cleaning the humidifier chamber with hot soapy water
  • Rinsing the pieces and allowing them to air-dry

To make maintenance easier, and reduce the risk of infections, use only distilled water in your CPAP machine. Regular tap water could have minerals that build up inside the humidifier water chamber and in the tubing, making these pieces harder to clean.

If your CPAP machine has filters, part of regular maintenance includes cleaning or replacing the filters as needed. You can find out how often to replace or clean filters in your machine’s instruction manual. Most models require filter maintenance every two to four weeks.

Keeping Your CPAP Machine in Top Condition

While it might seem quick and easy to clean the parts of your CPAP machine in a dishwasher, hand washing is a better option. Some parts could get damaged by the high heat or intense spraying of a dishwasher, which could leave you without the use of your machine until you get it repaired.

You can clean your CPAP machine with gentle dish soap and warm water, so there’s no need to spend extra money on special soaps or sanitizing units. Some people like to add vinegar to the soaking solution at a ratio of 1:1 to reduce odors and help prevent bacteria. Avoid soaps with heavy fragrances, since these could leave a lingering scent that irritates your airways when you use the machine.

Empty the water in your humidifier chamber every morning and refill the chamber with fresh water right before use. Reusing the same water can lead to a buildup of mildew or mold inside the chamber.

You might want to get a tubing cover to protect the delicate tubes on your machines to help reduce the likelihood of cracks or tiny punctures. To extend the life of your mask, avoid using any creams, lotions, or makeup on the part of your face that touches the mask surface.

When you get treatment for sleep apnea at Respacare, our on-site clinical sleep educator can outfit you with a CPAP machine and instruct you on how to use it and keep it clean.

Contact Our CPAP Clinic for Help With Sleep Apnea

If you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms and think you might need a CPAP machine or an evaluation for a sleep disorder, contact Respacare at 732-356-9950 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Our convenient location in Bridgewater, New Jersey, makes getting help for sleep apnea easy.

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