How to Clean CPAP

Last Updated on March 30, 2021

You made a smart and important decision regarding your health when you decided to move forward and begin CPAP therapy for sleep apnea. Creating constant or bi-level airway pressure helps eliminate sleep deficits, the negative effects of which a person may have experienced for years. Non-invasive ventilation improves blood oxygenation and also reduces the risk of complications associated with obstructive and central apnea, including arterial hypertension, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, stroke, etc.

Timely and regular maintenance of  CPAP devices, masks, and accessories is essential for their proper functioning and smooth operation. Keeping the device clean and replacing consumables according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule has a positive effect on treatment efficiency and also eliminates the risk of pathogenic microflora developing on the mask surface, inside the hose and in the humidifier reservoir.

Why is caring for your CPAP machine and accessories so important?

First, modern CPAP machines come with humidifiers, the purpose of which is to prevent dry mouth and to warm the supplied air. It is very important to clean the humidifier chamber regularly, as it creates a warm, humid environment ideal for bacteria and mold to grow. This can lead to respiratory irritation, sore throat, and respiratory infections.

Second, problems can arise with CPAP therapy during colds, flu, or nasal infections. Disease-causing germs will enter the surface of the mask from the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose and multiply rapidly. Without thorough cleaning, the healing process will be delayed. And every time you wear an untreated mask at night, you will run the risk of reinfection.

Third, certain risks arise from contact of the mask with the face. The natural secretions of even a healthy person (saliva, skin grease, sweat) get on the silicone, creating suitable conditions for the development of bacteria, and also affect the quality of the seal/fit of the mask.

Care of the CPAP machine, mask and accessories

May Use

  • Soft cloth;
  • Warm water;
  • Neutral soap without fragrance or dyes;
  • Basin or sink;
  • Towel;
  • 9% vinegar (for descaling the humidifier tank ONLY!!!);
  • Products from a special line for the care like CPAP Cleaner as seen on TV.

Do NOT use

  • Aromatic oils and solutions based on them, including eucalyptus oil;
  • Moisturizing, glycerin or antibacterial soaps;
  • Dishwashing detergents, including mild detergents;
  • Alcohol and alcohol-containing compounds;
  • Bleach;
  • Strongly scented products (e.g. citrus soap);
  • Washing machine, dryer, dishwasher;
  • Iron, hair dryer.

The seals of the CPAP masks are made of gentle silicone. The material provides optimal comfort, but its softness means that it deteriorates rather quickly, especially if it is not properly cared for. Cleaning products from the second column of the table can cause the mask to develop microcracks and, as a result, cause the accessory to function improperly. Choose soaps without fragrances and dyes, so that these ingredients do not affect the color and odor of the silicone.

Using a washer and dryer accelerates the wear and tear of the accessory, shortening its lifespan. This method of cleaning can cause straps to stretch and deform the mask. Ironing or drying the mask cap/strap with a hair dryer is also not recommended. The material is sensitive to heat and may be damaged.

Aggressive household chemicals (especially abrasive powders and bleach) contain hazardous substances and do not wash well from the surface of products. This can lead to allergic reactions, skin irritation, and the risk that you will inhale micro-particles of toxic chemical compounds while sleeping in the mask.

Care schedule

It is best to wash your accessories in the morning so that they have time to dry completely before next use. Care of the equipment and accessories comes down to the following procedures:

Daily or after each use

  • Disassemble the mask (see mask User Manual).
  • Hand wash the individual mask components (excluding the strap/cap) in a warm soapy solution. Water temperature approx. 30 °C.
  • Rinse thoroughly, place on a clean towel and leave to dry in direct sunlight.
    IMPORTANT: Care of the AirTouch F20 (ResMed) mask seal requires no soap or water. This seal MUST NOT be washed. After each use, it only needs to be wiped down with a damp, alcohol-free cloth.
  • When all components are dry, assemble the mask (see the mask User Manual).
  • Remove the reservoir of the humidifier. Pour out the remaining water and do not leave it on all day. Be extremely careful not to spill water on or around the unit. Doing so may damage internal circuitry and void the warranty.
  • It is recommended that the humidifier reservoir be washed in warm water with a mild detergent after each use to prevent calcification and bacterial growth. Then rinse thoroughly in clean water and allow to dry completely, avoiding direct sunlight.
  • Pour fresh water before going to bed. To prevent the accumulation of mineral deposits in the chamber, use only distilled or filtered water.

Once a week

  • Rinse the air hose by placing it in a sink with a soapy solution for half an hour. Make sure water gets inside the hose to remove all dust and contaminants.
  • Rinse thoroughly under running water, hang in a clean, dry place and allow to dry.
  • Make sure the product is completely dry before use, connect the hose to the machine and allow air to flow through it before connecting it to the mask.
  • Wash the mask strap/cap in a warm soapy solution, rinse thoroughly, place on a clean towel and allow to dry, avoiding direct sunlight. Over time, the cap may stretch and lose elasticity, resulting in overstretching and discomfort. In this case, the cap must be replaced.
  • Unplug the device, wipe its outer surfaces with a lightly moistened clean cloth, then wipe it dry.

Monthly inspection for signs of wear or contamination

  • Filter. Filters must be kept clean. The CPAP machine takes in air from the room and then passes it through a filter. If the environment is wet or dusty, the life of the disposable filter is shortened. Visual inspection is the key to determining the life of a disposable filter. The recommended replacement is every 6 months or earlier as dirt/wear occurs.
  • Water tank. If the water tank has cracks, cracks, holes, discoloration (e.g. due to high mineral content in tap or potable water), the tank should be replaced.

As the material deteriorates and because of the wet environment, cracks can trap bacteria. Also, because of the deterioration of the plastic, the chamber may begin to leak. If you notice visible deterioration of any product (cracks, discoloration, tears, etc.), this component should be replaced.

Every 6 months or as needed

To remove limescale in the humidifier tank, pour a solution of vinegar (1 part 9% vinegar to 3 parts water), leave for 10-15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly under running water and allow to dry, avoiding direct sunlight.


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