a kitchen sink, a bucket of soapy water, a hanger, and two bottles

How I Clean My CPAP Supplies: Mask, Tubing, and Humidifier

I have found what works best for my busy schedule is to clean my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) supplies weekly on a weekend morning. I always clean my supplies in the morning to give them a chance to dry throughout the day. My best advice for how to clean CPAP supplies is to pick a day that works for you and stick with it.

What I use to clean my CPAP supplies:

  • Clean sink or container
  • Baby shampoo (I personally use Johnson & Johnson)
  • White vinegar
  • Drying mat or towel
  • Hanger, such as shower head or towel rack

How to clean CPAP supplies

Starting with the humidifier

I start by emptying the water from my humidifier chamber. I like to use my kitchen sink for cleaning my CPAP supplies, but before anything goes in I scrub the sink and rinse it. I know some people like to use a bucket or large container. I say use whatever works best for you.

After I have emptied the water out of the chamber, I fill it with white vinegar up to the bottom waterline mark. White vinegar is a great disinfectant, and it descales any hard water build-up. I let the vinegar sit in the chamber for a good 5 minutes while I start to fill the sink and get the other supplies ready.

Hot water and baby shampoo

I like to use hot water to clean my supplies. However, I don’t make it so hot that I can’t put my hands in the water. I fill my sink up to about 1 to 2 inches deep, then I add 2 to 3 drops of baby shampoo. You may be wondering why I use baby shampoo and not dish soap. I have found that baby shampoo is gentler on the skin, it doesn’t get super sudsy, and it doesn’t have an antibacterial agent.

Now that I have the hot, soapy water ready, I take my whole mask (yes, my headgear too) and submerge it in the water. I take my tube, fold it in half and, submerge that in the water.

Once I have my mask and tube in the water, I take my humidifier chamber that still has the white vinegar, and I dump that into the soapy water.

The soaking and drying process

I like to let everything sit and soak for a good 15 to 20 minutes. After the time is up, I drain the sink and start rinsing. I usually do the humidifier chamber, mask, and tube. I like to make sure I rinse everything thoroughly, especially the tube. This can be a little tricky, but make sure that you see clear water running out of the end of the tube, not soapy water. Also, don’t forget to ring out your headgear. Otherwise, it will take forever for it to dry.

Once everything is clean and rinsed, I lay my mask and humidifier chamber on a cloth drying mat. I hang my tube over the showerhead and allow it to drip dry. Before I use my CPAP, I connect everything and turn the machine on. This allows for any water droplets remaining in the tube to move up and out.

Preventing sickness and mask breakdown

Regularly cleaning your supplies will keep you healthy, help prevent leaks, and help your supplies last longer. I can’t tell you the number of patients that I have had who have gotten sick from not cleaning their humidifier chambers or those who have over-tightened their masks to prevent leaks because they haven’t cleaned their masks.

We have oils on our skin, and wearing a mask those oils then get transferred onto the mask. If you're not removing those oils by cleaning, they will break down the mask and cause leaks.

How do you clean your CPAP machine and supplies? How often do you clean? Do you have any tips for washing or drying? Share with the community in the comments below.

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