How to Clean a CPAP Machine

How to Clean a CPAP Machine

If you rely on a CPAP machine to manage your sleep apnea, you're probably aware that it needs to be cleaned from time to time. From dead skin cells to bacteria, mold, and dust, it doesn't take long for buildup to occur on or inside your CPAP equipment that can impact both the effectiveness of your treatment as well as your personal health. Cleaning CPAP equipment regularly and properly increases its longevity and promotes more effective treatment, so it's crucial to have the right CPAP cleaning supplies on hand and know how to clean a CPAP machine.

With that in mind, click below to jump to the section you want to read or keep scrolling to read through all our best practices for cleaning a CPAP. We'll cover the following:

  1. How Often Should You Clean Your CPAP?
  2. How to Clean a CPAP Hose
  3. How to Clean a CPAP Mask
  4. How to Clean a CPAP Humidifier Tank
  5. How to Clean a CPAP Machine
  6. Cleaning a CPAP With Vinegar
  7. Recommended Products

How Often Should You Clean Your CPAP?

Before learning how to clean a CPAP, it's important to know how often you should clean your CPAP components. Because you interact with each part of the machine differently, some need to be cleaned and sanitized more often than others. Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Hose/Tubing: Once per week.
  • Mask: Once per week.
  • Mask Headgear: Once per week.
  • Humidifier Tank: Once per week.
  • Machine: Once per 2-4 weeks.

While these timeframes represent general best practices, remember that the goal is to keep your CPAP clean and clear of residue or buildup. Use your best judgment if you notice any components becoming discolored more quickly. It is also recommended to clean your mask, hose, and humidifier tank daily if you're sick.

How to Clean CPAP Hoses and Tubing

While it may seem simple, learning how to clean CPAP tubing/hoses properly is very important to prevent mold and bacteria growth. The combination of a dark, enclosed space and the ridges in the tubing creates a perfect breeding ground for pathogens. Follow these steps to clean your CPAP hose:

  1. Disconnect the tubing from your CPAP machine.
  2. Submerge the tubing in a mixture of warm water and either mild soap or CPAP tubing cleaner.
  3. Use a CPAP tube brush to gently scrub away any residue buildup inside the tubing.
  4. Rinse again with warm water and set aside to air dry on a clean towel. Ensure it is in a position that will allow water to drain out easily.
  5. Wait until tubing is fully dry before reattaching to prevent mold growth.

How to Clean a CPAP Mask

Cleaning your CPAP mask should also be a weekly task but may be done more frequently since it is more often exposed to oils and dead skin cells from your face. We recommend the following steps to clean and sanitize it:

  1. Disconnect the mask from the tubing and separate all of the pieces.
  2. Submerge the tubing in a mixture of warm water and either mild soap or CPAP mask cleaner.
  3. Wash the mask within your solution for roughly 5-10 minutes.
  4. Rinse again with warm water and set aside to air dry on a clean towel. Note that some components may take longer to dry than others, so leave time for this.

How to Clean a CPAP Humidifier Tank

If you use a CPAP humidifier as part of your treatment, it's very important to take time to clean and sanitize the humidifier tank on a weekly basis. Enclosed, damp spaces like this are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and mildew, so follow these steps to keep it clean and sanitized:

  1. Remove the tank and pour out any remaining water.
  2. Submerge the tank in a mixture of warm water and either mild soap or one of the cleansers listed above.
  3. Allow the tank to soak for 30 minutes in the mixture.
  4. Rinse again with warm water and set aside to air dry on a clean towel.

Remember to use only distilled water in your humidifier. This will extend its lifespan by preventing mineral buildup.

How to Clean a CPAP Machine

When it comes time to clean the CPAP machine itself, things are a little bit easier. Since you'll be protecting the inner components by cleaning your hose, mask, and humidifier, the primary purpose of cleaning your machine is to sanitize and remove dust or oils that have accumulated on the surface. Follow these steps every 2-4 weeks to keep it clean:

  1. Unplug your CPAP machine.
  2. Use CPAP wipes or a lightly damp cloth to remove any dust or oil from the surface of the machine. Do not submerge or spray anything directly on the machine.
  3. Gently dry it with a clean towel.
  4. Ensure it is fully dry before plugging it in for use.

Cleaning a CPAP with Vinegar

Yes, you can clean and sanitize your CPAP with vinegar. Since it is mildly acidic, vinegar can kill 82% of mold, including black mold. But while it helps prevent the accumulation of and kills existing mold and fungus, it won't remove the physical buildup. With that in mind, you shouldn't use vinegar as a pure substitute for washing with soap and warm water. Here are our recommendations for cleaning a CPAP with vinegar:

  1. Once a month, masks, hoses, and humidifier tanks may be cleaned with vinegar.
  2. Create a solution of two parts vinegar and three parts warm water.
  3. Submerge your components in the mixture for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Remove and allow to air dry on a clean towel before reattaching to your machine.
  5. Note: Do not clean the machine itself or any parts with padding or cloth in vinegar.

When to Replace CPAP Parts

Keep in mind that while cleaning CPAP equipment is a vital part of extending its lifespan and maintaining proper treatment, many parts still need to be replaced over time. To learn more, head over to our CPAP replacement schedule resource.

Wrapping Up

That's all we have on how to clean a CPAP machine! The process is simple, so the most important thing is to create a routine that works for you to ensure you keep your machine and components clean and sanitary.

If you want extra help with sanitation, CPAP cleaners use ozone or UV light to kill pathogens. For more information, check out our guide on the Best CPAP Cleaners, including a breakdown of pros and cons for each one. Just remember that these are specifically meant for sanitation, so you will still need to remove residue buildup manually by following the recommendations above.

Featured Products

Need to stock up on CPAP cleaning supplies? Here's a list of all the cleaners and products we discussed above. Happy cleaning!

If you have any questions about cleaning CPAP equipment, feel free to contact our customer service experts and we'll be happy to help.