Often overlooked by CPAP users, a good and regular CPAP cleaning routine is an important part of any sleep therapy program. Ensuring that your supplies are kept sterile not only is a healthy choice (germs can hide and grow on almost any surface!), but it also is an economical one (CPAP supplies, especially delicate ones like your mask cushion, last longer if properly maintained).
The world of CPAP cleaning options is a relatively new field. Many CPAP users used mild dish detergents and water to clean mask cushions, headgear and tubing (and many still do), but in the past few years, as education has increased about the importance of sterile supplies, the options for cleaning have increased too. Read more in our blog about keeping your supplies clean, including options like Citrus cleaning supplies, cleaning kits and brushes, sterilizing and drying devices, and other convenient options that allow you to do a thorough, but quick, cleaning job each day when you wake up!
Tip #1 – You can clean your supplies with household supplies
While we now carry many options for CPAP-specific cleaning supplies, you can (and many do!) clean your supplies easily and thoroughly with household products. The two most popular options would be a mild dish soap (like Dawn) or diluted white vinegar. Both have the disinfectant properties necessary to keep your supplies sterile and to keep germs and bacteria from colonizing (cleaning is especially important for those susceptible to colds, sinus problems or respiratory infections), and both are inexpensive and easy to find. Be sure not to use any harsh supplies or chemicals for your safely and for the safety of your equipment. Some people find that even mild dish soap is too harsh for their skin, and others really dislike the smell left behind from vinegar. For those individuals, there are other CPAP-specific cleaning options.
Tip #2 – There are cleaning products designed for your equipment
Relatively new to the CPAP world, there are entire cleaning lines designed around your CPAP supplies! The most popular line by Beaumont Products is called Citrus II. The Citrus products use essential oils from more natural options, like oranges, to ensure that products are incredibly safe and non-toxic. This is great for your health and for the health of your supplies, as the delicate cleaners won’t breakdown the silicone in your mask parts. The Citrus II product line includes mask and machine wipes (makes morning cleaning quick and convenient), germicidal sprays, mask wipe packets (perfect for travel), concentrated tubing cleanser, and spray mask cleaner (our most popular cleaning product).
In addition to this line of supplies, we also carry cleaning kits which allow you to purchase all your cleaning supplies in one simple beginner’s kit (and at a discounted price!), cleaning devices, like the new SoClean 2 CPAP Sanitizer, and cleaning brushes and accessories that make cleaning hard-to-reach spots (like the inside of your tubing) easier. For more cleaning option links, check the bottom of this article.
Tip #3 – Regular and convenient cleaning routines are a part of effective therapy
Cleaning your supplies is less of an option than it is a requirement. Many respiratory therapists spend lots of time going over the actual therapy portion of your CPAP routine and skip over care and maintenance guidelines. And while being comfortable and having an effective machine are the most important parts of your sleep therapy, cleaning and maintenance shouldn’t be ignored.
CPAP mask cushions are made of a very delicate material – silicone. This material is not known for its ability to last long unfortunately, but it is great in that it doesn’t cause irritations or allergies like longer lasting materials might (such as latex). It’s perfect for this use, but because of its delicacy, it can easily be broken down by the oils in the face that come in contact with it every night. In general CPAP masks are only made to last about 6-9 months, and proper care and cleaning are integral to even allow them to properly function and fit for that period of time. If the oils from your face are left on your mask cushion each morning, then that mask life span could be reduced even further.
Not only does cleaning ensure that your supplies last as long they can, it also means a healthier experience for you! CPAP masks are as close to your face and mucus membranes as anything can get all night long. That’s the last place you’d want germs to colonize, because possible infection would be that much closer to your most sensitive areas for disease transmission. Keeping sterile CPAP supplies helps you remain healthier and happier.
Tip #4 – Replace disposable CPAP items regularly
All supplies have an expected life span. Masks typically last 6 months, but cushions may be replaced in 3. Some machine filters can be washed each month, but some should be tossed out and replaced. Tubing replacement should happen every 3-6 months, and headgear should be replaced as soon as it gets stretched out or the velcro becomes loose. Pay close attention to manufacturer guidelines about your equipment and replace any disposable items regularly. Set calendar reminders when it’s time to order new supplies, or stock up in a spare closet when CPAP supply promotions happen.