Are you keeping every part of your CPAP machine clean?
If not, the machine may not be helping you nearly as much as it should be.
It’s important to make sure that you regularly clean each part of your CPAP device, especially the mask. The longer you go without cleaning it, the more difficult it is going to be to clean.
Why You Need to Clean the Mask Regularly
There are several reasons why you need to make sure that you are cleaning your CPAP mask on a regular basis.
For starters, a film can build up on the mask, and it has a greasy feel. Not only does this film make it more difficult to keep the mask clean, it can also lead to leakage, so the mask is not going to function as it should.
Other reasons to keep the mask clean include:
Daily cleaning will ensure that you get rid of any germs that are in the mask. Just one night of use can deposit a lot of germs and bacteria.
Cleaning is especially important if you have a cold or the flu, because the germs can linger. Not only do you risk becoming sicker, it can also begin to smell bad after a while.
Your skin is loaded with natural oils, and they are going to rub off onto the mask at night. If you do not clean the mask daily, those oils are going to build up. This will cause the mask to lose its seal, and it isn’t going to work properly.
If you wear any skin creams, lotions, moisturizers, etc., it is a good idea to stop using them at night. If you must use these products, make sure that you clean the mask daily. Otherwise, the chemicals will build up on the mask, and they can actually degrade some of the components.
It is important to make sure that before you clean any part of your CPAP device, including the mask, that you read the manufacturer’s instructions. This will ensure that you are not going to do anything that can potentially damage any part of the device.
Keeping the mask clean will ensure that it always performs as it should, and that it is not going to have a shorter-than-normal lifespan. Your mask should last six months to one year if properly cared for.
Cleaning Your Mask
Now it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty (hoping that your mask isn’t actually gritty from lack of cleaning). Check the instructions prior to cleaning, to make sure that you don’t do anything that is going to void the warranty.
DISASSEMBLE THE HEADGEAR
The first step in the cleaning process is to take apart the headgear. Detach the arms that secure the headgear to the strap and frame. Then, gently lift the mask from the connecting ring. Check the manual for detailed instructions in disassembling the headgear.
USE SOAPY WATER
The mask should be wet. Hold it under warm, running water, and then use a mild soap. Later the soap with your fingertips, and then rinse well to get rid of any residue from the soap. Be sure to use a mild soap.
Some of the best soaps to use for CPAP masks include mild dish liquid, baby shampoo, and soaps that you can order directly from your CPAP supplier. You can also get special wipes or sprays for cleaning the mask.
Use these to clean the seal just prior to putting the mask on at night. Do not use any cleaning solutions that contain bleach or ammonia.
DO NOT USE VINEGAR
While it is not a problem to use vinegar to clean some parts of your CPAP device, it can actually damage the mask itself. Vinegar is acidic, and it can cause erosion in the mask.
CLEAN ALL PARTS
Make sure that you clean each part of the mask, including the mask itself and the cushion, which can lose its seal if not properly cleaned.
After cleaning the mask, set it aside and let it air dry, making sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
It is also a good idea to soak your mask in an antibacterial soap for about 10 minutes each day. Rinse and air dry.
Cleaning other CPAP Parts and Accessories
This is the ideal time to also discuss how to clean the rest of your CPAP device. While you can never take the machine apart and clean it inside, you can take steps to make sure that all of the external parts, including the mask, are cleaned regularly. Here are some tips that will help you to keep your CPAP clean and functioning properly.
Clean the Tube
It is a good idea to get a tube cleaning brush, which has soft bristles and can help keep bacteria and mold out of the hose. Be gentle while cleaning the tube. Prior to using the brush, soak the tube in warm, soapy water. Clean with the brush, and then rinse with clear water. Hang it to air dry.
Clean the Filter
If your machine has two filters, one is non-disposable, and needs to be cleaned. Remove this filter (it will be black or grey in color while the replaceable filter is white). Hand wash it with distilled water and mild soap, or a mixture of vinegar and water. Allow the filter to air dry before reassembling.
Replacing the Filters
When the white filter begins to discolor or look dirty, it is time to replace it. Even though the other one is non-disposable, it should still be replaced every 6-12 months.
Once you have cleaned all of the parts of the CPAP device and they have completely air dried, reassemble the device. Now is the time to check for leaks. Turn the device on, and listen for any leaks. If there are none, it is ready to use again.
Making sure that the mask is cleaned daily, and replaced when necessary, is going to ensure that you get the most out of your CPAP device, and avoid exposure to germs and bacteria.