Cleaning and Maintenance Instructions of CPAP Machines, Masks, Tubing & Related Devices

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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

by Profmed Healthcare Solutions

The care and maintenance of CPAP equipment is relatively easy. It’s a simple matter of keeping everything clean.

Germs on the CPAP mask or in the CPAP tubing could make you sick. Dirt can accumulate and interfere with proper functioning. Dirt and oils from your face can build up on the CPAP mask to cause irritation or make your face break out.

In the morning, you can wash out the CPAP tubes and the CPAP mask while you are in the shower. You can then hang them up over the shower rod or on a towel rack to dry. By the time you are ready for bed, everything will be dry and ready to help you breathe through the night.

Your headgear can also be washed on a daily basis, but most people find that once a week is sufficient unless they have oily hair and skin. Ideally, the headgear (and chin strap, if you have one) should be washed by hand and allowed to air dry.

If you have a hand wash or gentle cycle on your washing machine, you can use that for washing your straps. They can be dried on the no-heat setting of your electric clothes dryer. Any other settings on the washer or dryer will cause the straps to deteriorate and wear out too quickly.

No daily maintenance of CPAP machines themselves is required. It is primarily the silicone, cloth and plastic parts that touch your face that must be cleaned daily. CPAP nasal pillows should be cleaned along with the CPAP masks.

The type of soap to use depends on the material your mask is composed of. Most are made of silicone, but synthetic rubber and other materials are also used. The manufacturers sometimes provide suggestions for the type of soap to use.

Mild soaps or dish detergents are usually recommended. Antibacterial soaps are not usually recommended. Perfumes and other allergens present in detergents can cause skin or nasal irritation. So, an unscented hypoallergenic soap is the best choice for most people.

You should use warm water for the maintenance of CPAP or BPAP tubing and masks. The warm water, gentle soap and the action of washing should be enough to remove dirt, germs and other debris.
The weekly maintenance of CPAP machines is a little more detailed, but still relatively simple. The filter at the back of the machine should be washed with plain tap water every week. Hold the filter under running water and squeeze. This should remove any dust that has accumulated.

You can blot the filter with a clean towel to remove most of the moisture or allow it to dry for a bit in your dish rack. Once most of the moisture has evaporated, you can put it back in the machine.
The filter at the back of the device should be replaced at least once a year. Some insurance providers cover bi-annual replacement. Since the cleanliness of the filter affects the function of the equipment, I would recommend replacing it as often as your insurance allows.

The maintenance of CPAP disposable filters (usually white in color) is a simple matter of throwing it away when it becomes soiled. Normally once or twice a month is sufficient. Not all machines have the white disposable filters.

The cleaning and maintenance of CPAP machines and carrying cases is to wipe them down with a damp cloth. A once weekly wipe down is usually enough for the machine. You can clean it whenever you dust, if you like.

The carrying cases are usually only used when travelling. You would care for them as you would for any other piece of luggage.

Many medical supply companies will check the pressure of your CPAP Machine on an occasional basis. Profmed Healthcare recommend checking the pressure annually at no charge, our trained CPAP therapy consultants make a home visit free of charge unless you want to take the machine to our medical supply office.

Your doctor may suggest that you have the pressure checked if you are still having symptoms. A doctor can order the pressure changed or checked at any time by prescription. All fees associated with the pressure change or check are included in free services by Profmed Healthcare.

The maintenance of CPAP humidifiers is very important. Bacteria can quickly build up in the water.
The water should be changed on a daily basis. In dusty environments, it may be necessary to clean the water tank of your CPAP Machine with warm soapy water on a daily basis, too. Normally, a once weekly cleaning with soap and water is acceptable.

A vinegar and water solution should be used to disinfect the water tank on a weekly basis. The procedure is to clean with warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and fill with one part vinegar to 3-5 parts water.

Allow the vinegar and water solution to stand for at least 30 minutes. Rinse the tank again and allow it to air dry. You can place it in your dish rack or on the top rack of your dishwasher.

Drops of moisture will sometimes accumulate in the tubing when a humidifier is used. This is referred to as rainout. Rainout can make breathing more difficult and increase the need for replacement or maintenance of CPAP tubing.

To prevent rainout, you can purchase a hose cover to keep the tube warm. The cause of rainout has to do with the change in temperature as the warm moist air travels down the tube. By keeping the tube warm, the air temperature will not change as dramatically and the rainout will be prevented.

There are a few other alternatives to a hose cover. You can raise the temperature in your bedroom. It may help to keep CPAP machine on the same level as your bed or to shorten the length of the hose. There are also special CPAP machines with a rainout reduction feature.

The proper care and maintenance of CPAP or BPAP machines will extend the life of the equipment and keep everything in good working order. As you can see, there’s nothing complicated about the process.

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