If you’re a sleep apnea patient who uses a CPAP machine, keeping it clean will help you breathe easy — figuratively and literally. Good hygiene keeps the device working properly, which enables you to get a good night’s sleep.
You can divide your cleaning into two categories — daily and weekly, says Dr. Ari Laliotis, an internal medicine specialist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “There are some easy steps you should take every day as well as a weekly cleaning routine that will keep your machine working optimally, and will also prevent you from being exposed to bacteria and mold.”
Dr. Laliotis, who also specializes in sleep medicine, recommends two daily cleaning measures.
“First, use a damp towel with mild detergent and warm water to wipe down your mask, including any areas that touch your skin. Gently rinse with a clean towel and let the mask air-dry,” says Dr. Laliotis. “Second, if your unit has a humidifier, empty any remaining water instead of letting it sit in the unit all day.”
Think of your weekly cleaning as a full bath for the entire unit — mask and tubing — to keep it free of dust, bacteria and germs.
“Fill a sink with warm water and a few drops of ammonia-free, mild dish detergent,” advises Dr. Laliotis. “Swirl and soak the parts for about 5 minutes, rinse thoroughly and let air-dry. You can even hang the tube over a shower rod or towel rack so all the water drips out.”
Dr. Laliotis recommends these additional weekly cleaning steps:
- Clean the filter by removing it; rinsing and squeezing in warm water; and air-drying
- Clean the humidifier by emptying all remaining water; washing the chamber with warm, soapy water; rinsing; and air-drying
“Regular cleaning is an important component of proper CPAP use,” says Dr. Laliotis. “It will keep your machine running smoothly and you breathing easy for a long time.”