Do I Need to Sanitize My CPAP Equipment?

Masks, Tubing, and Equipment Can Be Easily Cleaned

CPAP equipment can be cleaned without a sanitizer
CPAP equipment can be cleaned without a sanitizer. Brandon Peters, M.D.

Is it necessary to purchase and use a sanitizing machine to clean your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) equipment? Increasingly available, what does a CPAP sanitizer add to the cleanliness of your CPAP mask and tubing? Learn how to best clean your CPAP equipment and whether a sanitizer is unnecessary.

Risk of Illness with CPAP Use

First of all, it is extremely unlikely that you will become sick due to the use of a CPAP machine.

The equipment itself is sterile. If you are the only user (as you should be), the only bugs and germs inside of it are from you. You have already made a truce with them, so the likelihood that using the device can make you sick is extraordinarily small.

One concern raised is the risk of mold inside of the equipment. Regular replacement of the water in the humidifier can help. Most modern devices also have a heated humidifier and heated tubing. This can reduce the residual moisture inside of the components. Newer CPAP machines will even generate a small flow of air after you stop using it to further dry out the tube.

By using distilled water, you can avoid mineral deposits inside the water chamber. Appropriately replacing the CPAP’s filters can help to avoid unhealthy dust, pet dander, or other allergens from coming in from the environment.

Basic CPAP Cleaning Recommendations

It is highly recommended that the equipment be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis.

The manufacturer suggests that the mask and tubing be cleaned daily. Realistically, many people clean their CPAP equipment less often. It is best that it be cleaned at least once per week and more often if you are sick with a cold (to keep it sanitary).

How should you clean your CPAP? In general, all you need to do is to soak the mask, tubing, and water chamber in hot, soapy water.

It is fine to use dish soap. Fill up a sink and let the equipment sit submerged for about 30 minutes. Then, remove it and let it completely dry before reassembling your CPAP for use.

The Role of a CPAP Sanitizer

It is now possible to purchase CPAP sanitizers. These can cost up to $300. With the use of chemicals or UV radiation, these sanitizers are touted as a way to clean your equipment more thoroughly. Is this necessary?

As mentioned, the only germs inside of the equipment are your germs and they will not make you sick. As long as you don’t share your equipment with others, you don’t need to worry about contracting an illness from using CPAP. A CPAP sanitizer will not change how well the device works.

Importantly, you should not put chemicals or perfumes into the equipment that may be irritating to your lungs.

A CPAP sanitizer may motivate you to regularly clean your equipment. If that is useful to you, it might be worth the investment. In general, however, it is simply not necessary.

If you have further questions about how to best maintain your CPAP equipment, speak with your provider or sleep doctor for additional helpful advice.

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