Keeping Your CPAP Clean
Keeping your CPAP clean is an essential part of Healthy CPAP living. Dirty CPAP equipment carries the risk of transferring bacteria directly to your body which can result in seriously health issues such as sinus infections and pneumonia. Not to mention dirty equipment will degrade quicker than clean equipment so in the end it will also cost you more money! In this entry, we will go over some of the best ways to keep your CPAP clean.
The Old Fashioned Way: Many people who have time on their hands and who just clean in general, accomplish cleanliness with good ol' fashioned soap & water. Note* Do not use heavy duty detergent when cleaning your CPAP equipment, or alcohol containing products. Heavy duty cleaner can have negative effects on plastic where it will break it down quicker. Alcohol can have the same effect on your equipment, and in addition you will now be inhaling the alcohol into your throat and lungs which can cause serious irritation and other health problems. Standard dish soap or hand washing soap will work fine! Some humidifiers (not all) can be washed in your dishwasher, check your user manual for your humidifier it will usually state if it's dishwasher safe or not.
You can use soap and water to clean your humidifier chamber, make sure you scrub all areas and let air dry. Also, ensure that you are using distilled water with your CPAP machine, and this will help prevent mineral deposits from building up in your humidifier chamber and internally in your CPAP. Also empty out all the water in your humidifier chamber each morning. Bacteria favors wet warm environments and can produce rapidly inside your humidifier if it becomes compromised. Emptying out your humidifier chamber and cleaning it regularly will significantly reduce the risk of this happening.
Your mask cushion can also be cleaned with warm soap and water. Your skin naturally produces oil throughout the day and night, and these oils will break down your mask cushion over time resulting in leaks forming around your mask. CPAP wipes are an alternative to soap and water and don't contain chemicals that will degrade your mask or that are harmful to inhale.
The hose is by far the most difficult part of the CPAP as far as cleaning goes. The hose can be cleaned by submerging it fully in warm soap and water and then letting it air dry. That's the easy part, the hard part is drying it. It is suggested not to put your hose directly in sunlight, so one way to dry it is by draping it in a way where both ends are pointing down and letting it air dry that way. Try to allow a lot of time for it to dry or you may get a face full of water when you go to turn your machine on. What I suggest to all my patients is, prevention is best. So in other words, prevent it from getting dirty in the first place. When you're not using your machine, leave one end connected to your CPAP, and place the other end (with the mask attached) in a clean zip-lock bag and seal it during the day. This way dust and particles will not settle on your mask/tubing while you're not using it, and it will always be in a clean environment. It's still suggested giving the tubing a rinse if it looks visibly dirty or after a period of a week or two has elapsed, but it will cut down on the frequency at which you have to wash it.
New Age Cleaning: In more recent times more effective cleaning/sterilization methods have become available for cleaning your CPAP machine.
Using Ozone to clean your CPAP machine seems to be the most up and coming method for CPAP sterilization. The two most popular Ozone cleaners on the market are currently the SoClean 2 and Sleep 8. Both work by producing Ozone which kills bacteria and germs. Since Ozone is a gas it can easily reach every part of your CPAP, mask, tubing, and humidifier that are difficult to clean using soap and water. Ozone is a very effective at cleaning your CPAP and can give you peace of mind knowing that you're breathing clean air. Something to note about using Ozone to clean your equipment, Ozone is unable to break down or penetrate through oil or residue so it may still be required of you to wipe down visibly dirty areas in your humidifier and to wipe your mask every morning. Once those parts are clean the Ozone will further sterilize all your CPAP equipment. Patients who have hyper-reactive lung disease such as, Severe COPD, Asthma, Lung Cancer should probably avoid So Clean. From what I have personally experienced for a majority of people the Ozone scent will not have an negative effect on patients after it has gone through the cleaning cycle, but for a few of my patients who have severe lung disease it seemed to exacerbate their lungs causing increased wheezing and coughing. But not to worry, there are still modern cleaning options available for you.
For those of you who would like to stay away from Ozone UV light cleaners can also be used to disinfect your equipment. The most common UV Light CPAP cleaner on the market is Lumin. Lumin uses a UV light to sterilize your equipment and has a big chamber so you can fit your mask, and humidifier inside of it. Although UV Light is a very effective at sterilization, it is limited by only being able to sterilize what the light can touch. So it can not be used to clean the inside of CPAP tubing since the light is only touching the outside of it. Although one thing to keep in mind, the parts of your CPAP that are most prone to becoming compromised are your humidifier since it provides a wet environment for bacteria to grow in, and your mask cushion because it is touching your face which can have germs on it. Both of which can be easily sterilized by a UV Light cleaner.
Remember, not matter which way you choose to clean your CPAP, cleaning is essential for keeping you healthy, and making your equipment perform its best and last longest.