Do you use a CPAP machine to prevent health problems, but is it actually causing other health issues?
If your CPAP machine isn’t clean enough, you could end up dealing with a lot more problems than just sleep issues, including a fungal infection from the CPAP.
After all, if the parts on the machine are dirty, that is dirt that you are going to be breathing in all night. It is important to take the proper steps to clean the CPAP machine regularly.
Signs to Look For
How can you tell if your CPAP machine is dirty? It may not look dirty, but there are bacteria all over it. If you notice any of the following signs, it is time to give the machine a good cleaning, which we will discuss how to do later in this article.
- Mask is leaking or is causing irritation when you wear it
- Your partner complains that the machine is louder than normal
- You are having problems with your sinuses
- You wake up feeling tired, and feel sluggish throughout the day
The Importance of Cleaning Your CPAP
In addition to the health problems that a dirty CPAP can cause, it is also important to keep it clean in order to prolong the life of the machine.
Regular cleaning is also going to help to add to the life of the mask and accessories. Obviously, you can’t open up the machine to clean inside, but you can clean the following parts:
Cleaning Supplies to Have on Hand
You don’t need to have a lot of cleaning supplies for your machine, but there are a few CPAP cleaning products you should always have on hand for regular cleaning. Always make sure that you have vinegar and mild dish liquid, so you can make your own homemade CPAP cleaning solutions.
It is a good idea to have CPAP cleaning wipes, as well as other CPAP cleaning supplies, including specialized cleaning solutions.
How to Clean Your CPAP Equipment
If you use a CPAP, you need to know how to take care of it so it is going to last and so there won’t be a buildup of bacteria on the various parts and accessories. Some of the things you are going to learn today include:
- How to clean and/or replace CPAP accessories
- When to clean the tube and chamber
- The type of cleanser to use for cleaning
Let’s begin with the flow generator. For the weekly cleaning, wipe the CPAP flow generator with a damp cloth. Make sure that you do not put this part directly in water. Each month, take a look at the inlet filter.
If it appears to be dirty or discolored, it is time to replace it. It is a good idea to have replacement filters on hand at all times, just in case. You can get these where you order your CPAP cleaning supplies.
The next thing to check and clean is the water chamber. In addition to using the right cleaner, such as a homemade cleaning solution, it is important to use bottled or distilled water. Never use regular tap water to clean the water chamber of your CPAP.
It is important to clean the water chamber each day, and then give it a more thorough cleaning once weekly.
Make sure that the water level is high enough to last for the entire evening. If water needs to be added, empty what is in there, and replace it with fresh water.
Never top up the water, as standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Each week, take the water chamber apart and soak it clear water, then clean with a mild detergent. You can also make your own healthy cleaning solution with 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent distilled water.
Never put the water chamber in the dishwasher unless it says in the instruction manual that it is okay to do so.
It is a good idea to soak the water chamber for approximately 10 minutes each morning, using a soap that is pure and mild. Make sure that it is rinsed well, and that you allow it to air dry after each cleaning.
Remember, never use tap water. This can cause a buildup of minerals, which can lead to a bacteria growth. If you have already cleaned it with tap water, use a mixture of one part vinegar mixed with three parts distilled water to rinse the humidifier, rinse with clear distilled water, and then refill with distilled or bottled water.
The tubing should be cleaned once weekly. To clean, soak the tubing in distilled or bottled water, using mild detergent or the vinegar and water solution. Rinse the tubing with clear water, and hang to dry completely before using.
Ensure that you are cleaning the CPAP hose each week. This is easy to do. Simply fill up the sink with warm water and a mild soap, such as a mild dish liquid. Place the tubing in the soapy water, and make sure that the water gets all the way inside.
If you have a CPAP tube cleaning brush, use it to clean the inside of the tube if there is any buildup, being careful to not break any of the hose material. Rinse with clear water, and hang the hose so it can air dry.
Like the water chamber, the mask should be cleaned daily, and then given a more thorough cleaning weekly.
Wipe any part of the mask or the cushion where it comes into contact with your skin. Use a mild detergent or the vinegar and water solution, and then rinse with clear, distilled or bottled water. Allow the mask to air dry.
Take the mask apart and soak the parts in a mild detergent or the vinegar and water solution. Rinse with clear water, and allow to air dry. Once the parts are dry, put everything back together.
In order to properly clean the mask, it must be disassembled. Once you have cleaned the cushion, be sure to rinse the mask part with clear, warm water. Allow the mask to air dry.
Each week, you should wash the mask frame, as well as the headgear. Do this in the same manner as you would with the mask, with clear water and mild soap, rinsing, and then allowing the parts to air dry.
Before using the mask at night, make sure that you remove all cosmetics so your skin is free and clear. Also, do not use any moisturizers or conditioners before putting on the mask. This is going to help keep additional dirt from building up, and extend the life of your CPAP mask.
In addition to regular cleaning, it is also important to replace the mask on a regular basis. This is going to ensure that you always have a mask that is both effective and comfortable. Some of the signs to look for that tell you it is time to get a replacement mask include:
- The straps always seem loose and need to be tightened
- The mask doesn’t seem to have any spring left
- You are not getting as effective a treatment as you were previously
- The cushion remains slippery, even after having been cleaned
It is important to always make sure that the CPAP filters are clean. After all, they catch the dust and dirt that the machine sucks up, and make sure that it doesn’t go into your system. The machine can become dirty, and when the filters are not clean, it is not uncommon for bacteria to grow inside the machine because of the dirt that gets through.
So, it is a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning or replacing the filters regularly, depending on the type of filters you are using in your CPAP. Some machines actually have two different types of filters, disposable and non-disposable.
DISPOSABLE CPAP FILTERS
These can be replaced easily, and this should be done if the filter has turned color or you can see dirt on it. A good rule of thumb to follow is to change the disposable filter every month or so.
NON-DISPOSABLE CPAP FILTERS
This is generally made of foam, and should be cleaned weekly. Use a mile dishwashing soap mixed with distilled or bottled water. Rinse with clear water, and allow to air dry. While this is not considered disposable, it should be replaced about once each year.
Replacing CPAP Parts and Accessories
In addition to cleaning the CPAP parts regularly, you will also need to replace the parts and accessories occasionally. Here is a guide to help you know which parts need to be replaced, and how often.
Check the mask once weekly to make sure that there are no indications of wear and tear. If there any tears or the mask is worn, replace it. Otherwise, it should be replaced every 6-12 months. Most insurance carriers allow you to replace your mask once each year.
Check the tubing weekly to make sure that there is no wear and tear. If there are any weak spots, or you notice leaking, replace the tubing immediately.
The water chambers should be cleaned weekly. If you notice an excessive mineral buildup, or there is any corrosion, replace the water chambers.
If you are using reusable filters, they should be cleaned weekly and replaced once they show signs of wear and tear. If you are using disposable filters, replace them every one to three months.
There is no real need to perform any maintenance on the machine itself. If your CPAP unit has failed, or you think that it is not working the way it should, you may need to contact the manufacturer for servicing.
Caring for the CPAP Device
In addition to cleaning the CPAP parts and accessories regularly, it is also important to keep the machine properly maintained. No, you can’t take it apart to clean it out inside, but there are things you can do to extend the life of the device.
Make sure that you examine the filter regularly to make sure that there are no holes, and that no dust is building up on it. Each machine is different, so check the instruction guide to find out how to properly maintain your CPAP device.
Caring for the Humidifier
It is very important to understand humidifier maintenance. The better care you take of this part of the device, the less likely it will be that you end up with a buildup of mineral deposits. Try to get into the habit of rinsing out the water tub after each use.
All you need are some CPAP cleaning products, or a simple solution of mild soap and warm water. Be sure to rinse the unit thoroughly, and air dry it completely. Never place the humidifier in direct sunlight to dry.
Check the tub monthly, to make sure that there are no cracks or other signs of deterioration. If there are cracks, replace the tub right away.
Summary of CPAP Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
If you are using a CPAP, you need to keep it well-maintained and clean, so it is important to get into the habit of cleaning it every morning when you are finished using it.
This is going to give the parts and accessories plenty of time to dry out before you use them again at night. Never put the machine or accessories in direct sunlight, as this can cause damage. Never use bleach on any of the accessories, and never clean the parts with anything but bottled or distilled water.
Using a CPAP can help a lot of people who have sleep breathing disorders, but it isn’t going to do a whole lot of good if it isn’t properly maintained.
Always consult with your user’s manual to find out how to properly maintain your CPAP unit, and make sure that you are following the proper steps to keep all of the parts clean so you know that you are breathing healthy while you sleep.