When you first begin to use your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for sleep apnea, there is a bit of nervousness that comes with it. After all, a scary looking contraption is not the norm to have when sleeping. But after understanding the diagnosis, you realize that the machine’s goal is to help you breathe easier at night and helps you have a better quality of sleep.
After getting your CPAP machine and necessary accessories from a reputable supplier, instructions are given on how to clean the machine. Machine maintenance is of vital importance because it needs regular cleaning in order to work properly. Cleaning and maintenance ensures that the machine functions well and lives up to its full lifespan. This device is a necessity that keeps you healthy and it doesn’t come cheap. A regular cleaning schedule will save you money on parts as it helps keep the machine functioning to its full potential.
Importance of Cleaning your CPAP
This equipment is your lifeline. You directly breathe the filtered and humidified air coming from the mask that is being circulated in the machine. Without regular maintenance and cleaning, your CPAP turns to a breeding ground for various parasites. When this happens, you’ll be breathing dirty air, making you more prone to other illnesses. Cleaning can help limit the following issues:
- Allergic reaction
- Bacteria infestation
- Mold growth
- Higher risk for sinus infection
- Predisposition to pneumonia
- Sedimentation of the machine
- Untimely breakdown of equipment
- Quashing the warranty of the machine
Your machine supplier and your physician will remind you not to forget to incorporate a cleaning ritual for your device. This signifies how cleanliness and hygiene are both important parts in safeguarding your health.
Frequency of Cleaning
Cleaning your CPAP device is easy and not expensive to do. The primary element you have to remember is that before you begin cleaning, the machine must be first unplugged to avoid any electric shock. Water is a conductor and precautions must be taken to ensure your safety.
The mask that you place on your nose, the tubing the hooks up to it and the device, and the water chamber must be cleaned daily. It may seem excessive and cumbersome to do, but remember that doing all these take only a few minutes. Incorporate it in your daily ritual just like brushing teeth. Daily preventive maintenance with these parts is necessary to minimize the risk exposure. As for the rest of the machine, cleaning it once a week is enough. Getting an infection or being exposed to molds is the last thing you want.
It is important to note that if you are sick with colds or have an upper respiratory tract infection, you may want to keep cleaning the machine after each use. On top of that, it is vital to consider that this machine is your own personal device. To avoid contamination, it is best if you don’t share it with anyone else.
Tools Needed For Cleaning
The basic CPAP equipment that needs daily cleaning are the following: headgear, mask, humidifier water chamber, and tubing. The CPAP machine itself needs to be touched only once a week. The following materials are necessary for your cleaning regimen:
- Soft cleaning cloth
- Warm clean water
- Mild antibacterial soap or non harsh dish soap
- Small and clean sink, basin, or tub
- A towel for drying
Take note: you don’t need any of the fancy and expensive cleaners that they are pushing in the market especially for CPAPs. The aforementioned materials are more than enough in ensuring good sanitation. Don’t waste your money on those heavily advertised cleansers because your dish soap will work the same way.
Step by Step Guide to a Cleaner Machine
Step 1: Unplug the CPAP and disassemble its parts. The mask and the tubing must be separated from each other. If your mask comes with a headgear, detach it from one another. Other pieces that look like they can be easily attached and reattached must also be disconnected. Take away the CPAP tubing from any connectors. Then remove it from the humidifier outpour or the CPAP machine itself. Then, remove the water chamber from the CPAP machine. Be sure to separate it into pieces. Don’t fret because these can all be easily removed and reconnected. If your unit is more modern, then it may come as one whole piece so separation is unnecessary.
Step 2: Get your clean soft cloth. Dampen this with warm water. It doesn’t need to be soaking dripping wet. Then, wipe down the external surface of the CPAP machine with gentle strokes to get rid of the dust.
Step 3: Now is the time to fill our small tub, basin, or sink with warm water. Put in a little bit of gentle dish soap. Take some vinegar to dilute in the water. The acid vinegar is a good antiseptic and the fact that it is food grade makes it even more safe. The best ratio is one is part vinegar to one part water. But the vinegar step is optional. The next step is submerging the headgear, tubing, mask, and any connectors in the warm soapy water. Allow it to soak for some time, around half an hour is good enough. As an alternate method, you can use the soft cloth and war soapy water to wipe the mask. Then you can swirl soapy water into the tube. Don’t forget to clean the humidifier’s water chamber by cleansing it with water and mild soap.
Step 4: Allow everything to air dry by hanging on your shower rod or by placing on top a towel. Again, for optimal use, these items should be ideally cleaned daily. Making the effort is necessary to ensure your safety. Drying the items are vital because mold and bacteria are more likely to grow in a damp environment.
Step 5: For the humidifier part of the machine, replace the water regularly with distilled water. This kind of water is recommended because it has been filtered and treated and is considered safe and pure. It minimizes illness and it also diminishes the probability of hard minerals coming from ordinary water to build up and clog the machine. The humidifier machine should ideally be cleaned weekly.
Step 6: Check if your CPAP model comes with a filter. Don’t forget to read the manual or ask the manufacturer how these should be dealt with. Some can be rinsed with warm soapy water, but some are outfitted with disposable filters. The timing of replacing the filters will vary based on your home environment. If you have dogs or cats, expect to change it more often.
Step 7: After everything has dried, reassemble the different parts. With frequent cleaning, you’ll be an expert in swiftly reconnecting the parts. Turn the machine on briefly to check for any air leaks.
- See Also: Best CPAP Pillows
It is important to remember that the associated risk with a CPAP treatment is very minimal if you follow these instructions. If you find your sleep apnea symptoms have recurred or if the machine doesn’t sound nor feel like it is working well, don’t hesitate to ask for advice from your physician and help from your equipment provider. After all, health is the real wealth.