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Keep It Clean: CPAP Maintenance

Keep It Clean: CPAP Maintenance

By Kevin Cleary

For the millions of Americans that are affected by sleep apnea or even COPD, their CPAP or Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure systems are important to them. By using CPAP therapy, the risk of serious health problems can be avoided. These systems consist of a machine that can pump the air at the prescribed pressure, hoses, and masks. By keeping all these components clean you can extend the longevity of these parts and therefore keep the cost down.

Scrub-A-Dub Dub

The simplest way to extend the life of your CPAP supplies is soaking them in a warm soapy solution for about five minutes. Capitalhealth.org suggests using a small amount of Ivory liquid or mild dishwashing detergent will suffice. Some helpful tips for drying them from CPAPnow.com include:

  • Hang your tubing over a shower/towel rod
  • Place your mask/headgear on a towel in order to dry
  • Hanging your headgear on a hook or a clothes hanger will expedite drying
  • Do your cleaning in the morning so everything will be dry by nighttime
  • Wipe your CPAP/BiPAP machine weekly with a damp cloth

Disinfecting your CPAP mask weekly is recommended. Using a solution of two parts vinegar and three parts water is perfect. After rinsing thoroughly, be sure to air dry completely. You can also clean your machines filter weekly. These filters are normally grey in color (white ones are disposable). Just rinse the filter underneath tap water squeezing it to make sure all dirt is removed. Blotting it with a towel will help speed up drying. It’s also a good idea to change your filter every six months or so. Some machines may use disposable filters, so be sure which one you have. Cleaning your mask or headgear with alcohol is not recommended and they should never be put in the dishwasher. You should disinfect your tubing once a week by soaking it for 30 minutes in the same two parts vinegar three parts water solution, according to capitalhealth.org. This solution should be discarded after every use and not used for multiple parts of your CPAP system. For those that use a humidifier, it’s important to make sure you empty any and all liquid in between uses to avoid any type of mold growth. They can also be soaked for 30 minutes in the same vinegar/water solution listed above.

Replacement Time

Even if you maintain your CPAP supplies meticulously it’s a good idea to replace them from time to time. In a CPAP maintenance article for capitalhealth.org, guidelines are given for equipment replacement. They suggest you replace your mask and headgear every 6-12 months, tubing every one-two years, and if you use a humidifier change the chamber as necessary (usually every one-two years). The great thing is there are numerous options available to CPAP patients to help maintain their supplies as well as replacing them. The Respironics SleepEasy Replacement Chamber Kit includes the chamber as well as all the necessary seals and is intended to be used with the Respironics Sleep Easy Sleep Therapy System with Humidifier. Sunset Healthcare offers replacement filters for different styles and brands of CPAP machines. For instance, the Sunset Healthcare CPAP Filters for Respironics Machine are available in ultrafine and foam pollen versions. They also offer Sunset Healthcare CPAP Filters for ResMed Machines as well as CPAP Foam Fiber Filters for Fisher and Paykel Machines. When the need arises to replace your tubing, there are several things to consider. Required length and whether or not a smooth bore tube fits your fancy. The AG CPAP Smooth Bore Tubing is available to users in 4 ft, 8 ft, as well as a 10 ft long length. It allows for excellent airflow and comes with 22 mm rubber or integral cuffs, is grey in color and is latex free. Another replacement tube that is compatible with most CPAP, BiPAP, and bi-level machines is the Sunset Healthcare Durable CPAP Tubing. It is also available in 22 mm cuffs, but is only available in 6 foot lengths.

Cleaning Help

 Keep It Clean: CPAP Maintenance

There are supplies that are available to help you maintain and extend the life of your CPAP mask and system. The Dutch Harbor CPAP Mask Cleansing Wipes are made of a natural cleansing formula and utilize a 100% cotton wipe. They can simplify the cleaning process by possibly eliminating the need for soaking your mask and headgear. These biodegradable alcohol free wipes are latex free as well as unscented and gentle on your hands and face. Another way to keep your CPAP supplies smelling fresh and clean is to use the Maril Control III Disinfectant CPAP Cleaning Solution. It is often used in sleep labs as well as sleep disorder centers to disinfect their equipment. The active ingredient is benzyl ammonium chloride doesn’t harm the environment so it can be disposed of right down the drain. It’s a cost-effective way to kill a broad range of bacteria and viruses within 10 minutes. Disinfecting your mask and other CPAP system components can help minimize bacteria as well as the possibility catching a cold, or even worse, the flu. Hopefully by dodging these seemingly harmless maladies, hopefully more serious health problems can be avoided.