Do you have a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine? If so, you’ll want to make sure that it’s properly cleaned and maintained. Doing so is important for the life of the equipment—and for your health. If your equipment is not properly cleaned and dried, bacteria can build up and lead to infection. In addition, the oils in your skin can cause premature breakdown in the materials that were used to manufacture your CPAP equipment, especially your mask. Here are a few guidelines.
- Replace the water in your heated humidifier with fresh distilled water, which is less likely to deposit minerals inside the water chamber.
- Clean the outside of the mask cushion with a soapy washcloth to remove any facial oil that may accumulate. Rinse off the soap residue from the cushion.
- Wash mask and headgear, tubing and water chamber in warm soapy water. The mask and headgear do not have to be separated.
- Soak the humidifier chamber with a vinegar and water soak for 20 minutes. Use white distilled vinegar in a 1:10 ratio with water.
- Wash the black or gray washable filter (color depends on manufacturer), rinsing well with water and air dry.
Change intake (white) disposable filter.
- Adjust your heated humidifier heat level according to the season.
- Use a higher heat setting during the winter months when air is drier.
- If water is condensing into the tubing, try the following:
- Lower the heater setting.
- Place the CPAP/BIPAP lower than where your head rests during sleep; this will keep the tubing at a downward angle and will help gravity pull the excess water back toward the humidifier.
- Put slightly less water into the humidifier chamber.
- Cover tubing with blanket or a tube wrap; this will decrease or eliminate condensation.
- Use heated tubing (often a private pay item and not covered by insurance).
In working order
A CPAP machine is the standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Doing your best to keep your CPAP clean and well maintained will help you keep your sleep apnea in check in the long run.
Take the next step
- Read more about the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center
- Read MedEQUIP’s Treating Sleep Apnea Brochure
- Read MedEQUIP’s CPAP & Bilevel Therapy Booklet
Gary Jeromin, MA, RRT, LRT, is a Senior Supervisor, Respiratory Care, for MedEQUIP, the University of Michigan Health System’s full-range home medical equipment and respiratory provider.
For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.