How to Clean a CPAP Machine

by john

One of the hassles of using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea is that there is some routine maintenance involved in making sure it works properly.  While this really doesn’t involve a lot of work it is important to do the cleaning lest you subject yourself to illness or other issues like facial acne.

I have broken the maintenance into three distinct periods – daily, weekly and quarterly:

Daily CPAP Cleaning

The daily cleaning regimen of your CPAP machine is very easy and only needs to be done just prior to using the machine.  First, if you are using a humidifier attached to your unit, make sure it is filled with clean distilled water.  There is no reason to throw out what is already in there – simply top it off.  Next, you should use unscented baby wipes to clean off all of the contact points of the mask – don’t forget the pads that rest on your forehead!  In addition to using the wipe to clean the machine you should also clean on your face around where the mask will sit.  This will help ensure you don’t have a CPAP problem like facial acne.

Weekly CPAP Cleaning

The weekly cleaning is more rigorous than the daily cleaning and will require a little more of your time.  What I do is do the cleaning when I first get up on Sunday morning, that way the machine is already to go when I go to bed that night.  Here is what you need to do:

Making sure you have a clean and empty sink, put the following CPAP equipment into the sinkfull of luke-warm water: CPAP mask (don’t remove the straps at all), chin strap if you use one, humidifier water container and hose.  Put in a little bit of Dreft baby clothes detergent and let it soak for about 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes rinse well and hang everything up to dry.  You’ll be good to go for another week!

Quarterly CPAP Cleaning

The quarterly work is not so much cleaning as it is maintenance.  There is a filter that comes with your machine and you should have recieved a couple of extra ones.  You should replace this filter on a quarterly basis.

With proper cleaning and maintenance there is no reason your CPAP machine can’t last a long time.  Good luck and remember, no matter how uncomfortable it feels you need to wear your mask!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

L Griffiths July 20, 2010 at 11:03 pm

My husband has had a c-pap machine + built in humidifier for about a month & has been very successful with its use. However, today, as he refilled the water container with distilled water (bought at a pharmacy) we notice a cloudy, spherical shape (about the size of a large walnut for want of a btter description) floating in the water tank – there were also some little cloudy flecks floating around; we’d never noticed this beofre now. He took the container, as it was, to the shop where he bought it and the assistant took off the bottom of the container and felt the blob(?), & she said that it felt slimy! BUT she had no idea what it could be.
She cleaned it out & told us to come back if it appeared again.
There is no way that anything (mucous) from my husband could have got back up the heated pipe & into the water container, especially with 9lbs of air pressure continuously being forced through the same mechanism.
Have you any idea what this could have been please? It is a bit disconcerting, seeing as he is using the machine every night. Thank you.

Darlene August 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm

It sounds like he is not cleaning the machine properly. I have never seen anything in mine and I have used it for several months. I clean every morning with a little squirt of dawn and warm water. The hudmidifier and everything. I put in clean distilled water every night and I also put a little white vinegar once a week.

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