If you are a chronic snorer or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you most likely use a CPAP machine. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines help millions of Americans sleep through the night and feel well-rested when they wake up.
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining healthy brain function, emotional well-being, physical health, and daytime performance and safety. For those reasons, it is recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Many Americans, approximately 50 to 70 million, have an ongoing sleep disorder and find it difficult to get enough sleep each night. Luckily, there are methods of relief available.
Like any well-oiled machine, CPAP machines need to be cleaned and maintained constantly, so read on to learn how to keep it in tip-top shape.
Mask, Headgear, and Tubing
Ideally, the mask, headgear, and tubing attachments of your CPAP machine should be cleaned daily. Begin by taking apart your machine:
- Unplug the machine from its power source to avoid electrical shock.
- Disconnect the mask from the tubing and separate the headgear parts.
- Remove the tubing from any connectors, the humidifier output, or from the machine itself.
- Fill a small basin or tub with warm water and add a small amount of gentle dish soap and submerge the mask, headgear, and tubing. Let them soak for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse and let air dry. Do not put any part of a CPAP machine in the dryer!
If you cannot find time to do this whole process daily, at least wipe down your mask with a disinfectant towel or with warm water. If you find you only have time to clean the headgear and tubing once a week, use 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water instead of soap when soaking.
Aside from making sure bacteria and germs are killed, CPAP masks need to be washed often because most are made of silicone. This material does not have a very long lifespan, and without proper care, it can breakdown quicker than expected. To replace your mask, you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations; check with your insurance provider, as some may include replacement costs.
First and foremost, it is important to dump any remaining water out of the humidifier chamber that remains from the previous night. If your chamber is not dishwasher safe, it can be easily cleaned with soap and water. After cleaning, dry the chamber with a paper towel or dishcloth as much as possible and then leave it out to air dry the rest of the day.
When it is time for bed, fill the chamber with fresh distilled water. This whole process should be done daily, but make sure to disinfect the humidifier chamber once a week. This can be done by soaking it in a 1 part vinegar and 3 part water solution for 20 minutes followed by a thorough rinse.
Most CPAP machines have disposable paper air filters, but some may have a non-disposable filter. Cleaning or replacement depends on the kind of filter:
- Clean non-disposable filters every week or even more often if you have pets who shed. They can be cleaned by rinsing them with warm water – just make sure they are dry before placing them back into the machine. Replace them when they begin to look worn.
- Replace disposable paper filters monthly or more often if they appear dirty.
- Make CPAP machine cleaning a morning habit to have enough drying time in the day.
- NEVER use bleach for cleaning.
- Check manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning and keep track of when you should order replacement parts.
- If you are sick or were recently sick, clean your machine more often.
- Keep your machine and additional parts out of direct sunlight to avoid damaging them.
Maintaining a clean and well maintained CPAP machine is extremely important. You are directly breathing the air that circulates through the machine. If it’s not being cleaned properly, you can be inhaling bacteria and mold, increasing your risk for allergy symptoms, sinus infections, foul odors, and premature device breakdown.
If you are having trouble with your CPAP machine or do not have one and suffer from sleep apnea, Dr. Patel at Breathe Sinus can help! Call (219) 301-8976 or make an appointment online today.