CPAP sanitizer use frequency

Let’s be honest here, most everyone I know wouldn’t clean their CPAP equipment properly if a gun was held to their heads to do it, myself included. For starters because I don’t really know how to effectivley clean it. No matter how much I tried, I was always getting nasty stuff in the tank, and heaven only knows what building up in the tubing…

With my Dr. recommendation, I grabbed a Respify sanitizer, and yes it is one of those little ozone generators that basically soak your equipment in Ozone for a while, you then reconnect it, and run the unit free (not wearing the mask) for about 8 minutes or so to fully blow out the ozone. So far so good…

In discussing this with a colleague also on CPAP, he mentioned he has a SoClean, and daily use of it was causing premature degredation of the mask, tubing, and seals.

Anyway, aside from the concerns RE: breathing ozone which isn’t a real concern for me once the tubing is blown out, how often should I sanitize my equipment to keep it as clean as possible without causing undue wear and tear on it?

I just rinse everything out with soap and water each day and wipe the machine down with sanitized wipes. Now that I’m hearing this I’m going to continue to do so. Thanks for sharing.


Your method was the one I was was using, and it was quite ineffective which is why I was searching for another method to begin with. No matter how often I cleaned it, or even how thoroughly I scrubbed, I always missed something, especially in the reservoir tank and tubing. And I was ending up with frequent sinus infections…

dbhost, I’ve been on my bipap for two years now and have been cleaning my mask, tubing filters, and reservoir with dish soap in my bathroom sink with no problems whatsoever. I clean the hose and reservoir and filters once per week, and the mask every day. I clean the reservoir with a cheap bottle brush, and the mask every day with just my hands. I let the hose soak for 3-4 mins when I clean it weekly. Of course I get a new mask liner every 3 months, and new hose and mask every 6 months. I’ve never had a sinus infection, and am in fact rarely sick since starting the bipap (let’s not talk about the heart condition—afib—that I got from 20 years of undiagnosed sleep apnea). No colds, no flu, no bacterial infections. Could be just luck, but my wife is a clean freak, and we have a cleaning lady every two weeks with no pets (we had 3 cats for 30 years). That means no dander, or fur, and the cleaning lady takes care of all the household dust. I’ve never wiped down my machine because it never gets dirty. Never saw the need for a Soclean.

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I wish my results with frequent washing where as good as some peoples. I tried the small bottle brush thing,and anti bacterial dish soap, but I would inevitably get slime building up in areas of the tank that I just couldn’t reach with the brush bristles, and yes I was getting sinus infections. I couldn’t really scrub the inside of the tubing so that wasn’t really an option…

I have to ask about environment for both you and @afronative since you are having good luck with daily cleanings, while I myself, and at least one family member, and a colleague all have diffculty keeping the equipment from sprouting funk. Are you in an arid climate? I am wondering if the constant high humidity even with the AC running much of the time is causing this… I am on the Gulf Coast in Texas.

I myself am in Brooklyn, NY. Urban areas are notorious for gunk in the air. However having grown up in the burbs and having country relatives I am aware that these areas also have natural allergens that can be equally problematic. So in answer to your question it could be environmental but I caution you to make sure that everything dries really good before using again.

I am 23 miles north of the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. We have humidity, but we have only a handful of days at 95 degrees or above, and only about 4-5 weeks below freezing. We used our air conditioning for 37 days in 2019. So it may have something to do with humidity and air conditioning. afronative in Brooklyn has about the same weather as Philly, just a bit colder.

Actually I use my SoClean every day and it has not degraded anything as near as I can tell. I had to have a total knee replacement in July and the hospital sent their guy in to check it for functionality and cleanliness, and said it was the cleanest one he had ever seen :laughing:

Every day I wipe my mask with a CPAP cleaner wipe, then hook it to the SoClean. Once a week, I run the Dawn dishwashing liquid through the hose and water tray after I soak them with vinegar. Every couple of weeks I wash the headgear on gentle in the washing machine since I sweat at night. And of course I change out the equipment as instructed every 30 or 90 days.

Update 11/26/2019: I forgot to mention that I use only steam distilled water in the machine and have had no problems with mold or anything else in the water…

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I don’t do mine as often as others here but it works for me.

I have nasal pillows and I put those in water with a little dishwashing liquid (usually lemon Joy or Ajax; I make sure it doesn’t have antibiotics in it). I leave those soaking all day then rinse and re-use them the next night.

My other equipment is the shell that holds the nasal pillows, the hose, the humidifier container, and the cloth part of the headgear. Those I clean every few weeks. I soak most of it in very warm water with that same dishwashing liquid for 15-20 minutes. I then rinse it with very warm water and then cold water for the hose. The cloth parts, I hand wash and then rinse & dry them in my washer and dryer. That seems to work well while keeping the bits in place. Then I just set everything out to dry for 3-4 hours. If I run out of time, I sometimes blow any remaining water in the hose out with the cpap.

Most days, I just hang the hose to dry and set out the humidifier container to dry, too. I hang the hose alternating which end hangs down longer to avoid having one spot always being at the top. I take the shell off the end of the hose and dry it separately. The humidifier container comes apart into two large parts that dry well. Years ago, I had a container that was much harder to dry; I like this one better.

Doing this, I never see anything yucky in the gear. My only caveat is that very rarely, I will have a cold that will cause an odor that smells of illness. The odor is bad enough that I will soak everything (except the cloth parts) every day until I’m over the cold. Thankfully, that’s only happened a couple times in the 22(!) years I’ve been on cpap (I have had other colds; most don’t cause this odor). Once or twice a year, I will notice a bad odor in the hose and not know why. Then, I just I do the complete cleaning ahead of my normal schedule, and it’ll be good to go for a few more weeks.

I rarely replace the hose or the shell. The inside of the humidifier container does get a little rough after a while, so that gets replaced more often. I do replace the nasal pillows every 2 months.

I learned my routine back in the mid-90s, and I have heard newer patients say they were told to do things differently. No one back then mentioned vinegar, for example; the main caveat back then was to avoid cleaners with antibiotics. They also did not say to use distilled water. By the time I’d heard that, I’d been using our well water or tap water for so long time without any problems, that I just continued the same way.

I think the key is letting them soak.

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The Philips DreamStation booklet describes daily and weekly cleaning. The DreamMapper app has “how to” videos. I follow those every day.
I use only a clear dishwashing soap (no perfumes or colors) and use only distilled water.
I change the pillow cushions and the disposable filter every 2 weeks. I follow the guidelines for monthly, 3-months, and 6-months part replacements.
I let the hose and the water chamber air dry every day. I think they recommend cleaning the non-disposable filter every 2 weeks, but I clean and air dry that every week.
I soak the mask parts, water chamber, and tube in the soapy water every week for 30 minutes, taking care to fill the tube completely so there is no air in it.
Every day, I wash the mask parts for 1or 2 minutes or less in the soapy water. I do all the washing and soaking in my bathroom sink which I keep clean (including the drain) all the time. I dry it out after every use (only takes a few seconds).
No problems so far. Knock on wood. Hail Marys.
I cover the machine when I’m not hooked up to it with a folded pillowcase and change that every week. Recommended to keep dust out of the machine.
My regular MD says my sinuses have never looked so normal. I use a heated humidifier at the sleep study settings, and increase the humidity by 1 (not the heat) when the AC is running.

Wow, lots of different experiences. Great to see everyones experience.

For those that can keep their equipment clean without a sanitizer, I am truly happy for you. I honestly wish I had good experience with it, but I don’t.

My hand wash process was as recommended by my doc initially, as well as the resperatory therapist, which was to fill a sterile bucket with vinegar water, 1 cup white vinegar and fill up about 3/4 of the way a 2 gallon bucket, and submerge the mask, tank, and hose. Inevitably I would have to find and use something to weight down the stuff, most particularly the hose. Let soak for 1 hour, and then scrub the tank with one of those tiny brush things, and then rinse it all with hot water, and then hang dry in the shower.

No matter what I did, by the time I was week 4 or so of new hose / mask, tank etc… and I would get funky growth in the tank, and the hose. I would end up spending about 2 hours with a finy toothbrush scrubbing the funk out of the tank, and a bleach water soak for the hose to finally get it all sterile, followed by my manual washing method.

All told I was spending an hour a day before it started getting funky to try to prevent the funk, and even when it went bad, I could spend over 2 hours cleaning. It was NOT time effective, nor cleanliness effective, and if I wasn’t staying on top of it, and didn’t notice the growth of funk, I could almost guarantee a sinus infection.

The colleague with the SoClean that was having issues is the only person I have heard of having issues with a sanitizer, other than the smell of Ozone.

My method for my Respify is easy,and literally takes less than 2 minutes of my effort.

WIth the unit charged, pull the tank, hose, and mask, remove the headgear and dump the leftover water from the tank. Blow the water out with my wifes hair dryer (I don’t otherwise need one). Toss the stuff in the bag, turn the unit on, toss it in the bag, zip it up, and hang it on the door knob to the master bathroom. I go about my day.

In the evening, I take it all out, fill the tank, and put the tank, back in, plug the hose, and mask in, and put the headgear on. I run the unit free flowing for 8 minutes as I go about prepping for bed to blow the Ozone out completely, and when I am ready to go to sleep, I am clean and ready.

I know the SoClean is the popular one, but it wasn’t my favorite. To each their own right? They are nice though…

I’m firmly planted in the Dawn and warm water rinse club. I also no longer use distilled water. For me, the method of washing I employ works fine. I probably get a small residue in the humidifier chamber from tap water, after about 6 months use. Since I get replacements more frequently from the DME than I really need, the residue issue isn’t really a big deal to me.

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PS a FWIW SoClean as an example can’t clean your parts. If you read their directions carefully, it says you still have to clean your CPAP parts with soap and water.

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Yeah - My main goal with the SoClean is to get the hose and mask clean. I can get to the rest of it fine :slight_smile:

Cleaning…hmmm… what’s that? I have been on CPAP for 5 yrs. I ALWAYS use distilled water, I have NEVER, I repeat NEVER washed a hose…ever! I change the nasal pillows every month, wash or change the pollen filters, CHANGE the hose and mask every three months. I have not had a cold for at least 3 years, and I worked in a grade school full time until I retired last year, it’s a germ pit! I have never had a sinus infection in my life. The respiratory therapist asked me if I got any colds or sinus infections; when I said NO, he said well, what ever method you use for cleaning, keep it up, keep doing what you’re doing, because it is working. OK, well, that’s my cleaning method. I do nothing. Maybe people introduce germs by washing their equipment in a dirty sink…who knows…? Maybe I’m lucky.