Caring for Your CPAP Machine

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, our lung specialists often prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to patients with sleep apnea. The reason is simple: They’re effective. 

CPAP machines send continuous airflow through your mouth and into your lungs while you sleep, helping you avoid the sudden halts in breathing associated with sleep apnea. But, this therapy isn’t possible unless your CPAP machine functions properly. 

The air delivered by your CPAP machine travels through filters, hoses, and connectors that can become breeding grounds for bacteria if your machine isn’t cleaned properly. And the built-in humidifier that helps prevent your throat from drying out can allow bacteria to grow.  

In addition, without the proper care, your CPAP machine can develop problems, including a leaky mask, trouble with straps and hoses, and issues with pressure. 

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, we emphasize the importance of caring for your CPAP machine, because we care about your health. A well-maintained CPAP machine means better rest for you and a healthier waking life. 

Read on to learn what you need to know about caring for your CPAP machine.  

What to do every day

Keep your CPAP machine in great working order by spending a few minutes each day on these preventive measures:

1. Wipe your mask

Sweat, dead skin cells, oil, and other substances can build up on your mask. To keep it working properly, wipe it each day with a mild detergent and a damp cloth. Then rinse it and allow it to air dry. 

2. Empty the humidifier

If your CPAP machine comes with a humidifier, be sure to empty the reservoir each morning instead of letting it sit all day. Best practices include refilling the reservoir with clean, distilled water before going to bed each night. 

3. Take precautions if you’re sick  

If you have a cold, flu, or another bug, be sure to wash your mask, filters, tubing, and humidifier daily to prevent the risk of re-exposing yourself to germs.

What to do every week

Spending a little more time caring for your CPAP machine could mean the difference between a functioning machine with a good night’s rest and a problematic machine that keeps you up at night. Here’s what you should do:

1. Thoroughly clean all headgear, tubing, and hoses

Once a week, fill a sink or tub with warm water and a mild detergent. Submerge all headgear, tubing, and hoses and vigorously move them around in the water for about five minutes to clear any buildup. You can also purchase special brushes that fit inside the tubes and hoses for an extra clean finish. Air dry the components on a towel rack or something similar to allow excess water to drip away. 

2. Wipe down the outer surfaces 

Each week, use a damp cloth to wipe down the outer surfaces of the CPAP machine. This will help it stay free of dust and grime.

3. Clean the filters

If you have washable filters, remove them once a week and rinse them in warm water until the water you squeeze from the filters is clear. Blot the filters dry with a towel and allow them to air dry.

If you have disposable filters, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Disposable filters are typically changed monthly or sooner if they become dirty. 

4. Wash out the humidifier

If your machine has a humidifier, clean the reservoir by washing it in the sink or tub in warm, soapy water. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly to ensure it’s free of detergent, and allow it to dry completely before returning it to your machine. 

What to do every other week

Twice a month or so, complete this extra step to keep your machine functioning well for as long as possible.

Sanitize your machine

Disinfect all washable parts of the CPAP machine by soaking them in a water and vinegar solution. Use one part water to five parts vinegar and soak for about 30 minutes. Then rinse with clean water and allow to air dry.

Some machines come with top-rack dishwasher safe components. If you have a machine with dishwasher-safe components, run them through a wash cycle instead of completing a water-vinegar soak.

If you need more guidance on taking care of your CPAP machine, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today. We're also available for TELEMEDICINE appointments.

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