CPAP machines are an important tool for treating your sleep apnea; their proper care and maintenance can greatly benefit your health. If you’re like most sleep apnea patients, you probably use your machine for approximately eight hours a night. In that time, CPAP machines become a breeding ground for illness-causing microbes. Dirty CPAP machines can cause several serious respiratory disorders, including but not limited to bronchitis, pneumonia and serious acute and chronic allergic reactions. That’s why it’s important to routinely clean your CPAP machine.
Cleaning your CPAP Machine by Hand
Clean and well-maintained CPAP machines minimize your risk of contracting illness and help extend the life of your machine. The type of cleaning regime discussed here should be done once a week or more and does not replace your daily sanitization routine. In this article, you’ll learn how to clean your CPAP machine including the mask, the hose and the humidifier, by hand. Here are some benefits of handwashing to consider:
Benefits of Hand Washing CPAP Machines
- Less expensive (than other methods)
- Clean as often as needed
- Cleaning supplies widely available
- Thorough clean
- Gentle on CPAP machine
Washing by hand may seem like the most time-consuming way of cleaning your CPAP machine but there are benefits to this method. With the proper supplies for your cleaning regime, you’ll sleep better knowing that not only is your machine clean but in optimal condition.
Hand washing is recommended to maximize your machine’s lifespan. Cleaning thoroughly means your machine stays fresher between weekly cleanings, simplifying daily care. As long as you’re using cleaners that are safe for your CPAP machine, you can do a complete wash as often as you’d like.
Many prefer hand washing because the supplies are usually readily available. With the right gentle, non-abrasive cleaning materials (NEVER bleach) and sponge or cotton cloth, you can clean your machine cheaply and efficiently, without worrying about damaging it or leaving behind unwanted residue. No two machines are the same, so always be sure to read your machine’s instructions before cleaning and maintaining it. The four parts you want to clean weekly are the mask, the hose, the tubing and the main unit.
Steps to Cleaning by Hand
- Start by disconnecting the hose and mask from the CPAP machine.
- Dissemble mask, typically into 2 to 4 separate parts.
- Place in a pre-cleaned tub or basin (DO NOT fully submerge parts with electrical devices).
- Rinse to remove any excess body fluids or oils.
- Gently apply soap and water using a non-abrasive pad or cloth.
- Rinse thoroughly with drinking-quality water
- Allow time to dry before reassembling and using. (Hang up mask and hose for faster drying.)
Name-brand dish soap is popular and generally considered safe for your machine but many prefer to avoid dish soaps with strong scents or additives like moisturizing lotions. As is the case with any electrical device, unplug the machine before getting it wet. Note that some air filters are conveniently disposable but cannot be cleaned, like the DreamStation Go Travel CPAP Disposable Filter (6 Pack).
Hand Cleaning During the Pandemic
You may be worried about how the coronavirus pandemic impacts your cleaning regime and how the existence of a new and dangerous virus requires higher intensity or higher frequency cleaning. Don’t worry because hand cleaning with soap and water is an effective way to reduce COVID-19 on surfaces and limit its spread.
It is important to note that while the CPAP machine itself does not increase your risk of contracting coronavirus, it can still grow inside parts of the machine, including the mask and the hose. You should sanitize these parts daily in addition to regular weekly cleanings. Without proper sanitization, there is some risk of the machine dispersing virus and infecting those you share space with.