CPAP cleaning machines: use, efficiency and more

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If you use a CPAP machine for your sleep apnea, you are part of a large and growing club: There are 8 million CPAP users in the United States, and that number is increasing by 8-9% each. year.

Cleaning your CPAP machine is absolutely essential. Your equipment accumulates dirt, sweat, and other debris that can lead to the growth of bacteria, which can cause disease. Using a CPAP cleaner can speed up the disinfection process and ensure that most germs and bacteria are gone. But it’s also possible to clean your CPAP by hand using everyday ingredients found at home.

Read on to learn more about CPAP cleaning machines and whether they are essential or not.

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is most often prescribed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA can cause interruptions or pauses in your breathing while you sleep. A CPAP machine helps send a constant flow of pressurized air into your nose and / or mouth while you sleep.

A CPAP machine is programmed to produce pressurized air at a constant level. Regular use can help improve the quality of your sleep, lower your risk of a heart attack, lower your blood pressure, and reduce daytime sleepiness.

A CPAP cleaning machine aims to thoroughly disinfect your CPAP machine and its accompanying accessories, including the mask, harness tube, and water chamber. It is important to clean your CPAP machine regularly because bacteria, fungi and viruses can thrive in CPAPs. Allergens, dust, dirt, mold and pollen can also enter.

CPAP cleaning machines use different methods to get the job done: ozone, UV light, and disinfectant tablets. Here’s how each of these methods works:

  • Ozone gas. Ozone, also called activated oxygen, is a reactive gas that occurs both naturally and in man-made forms. Ozone is effective, but not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cleaning CPAP machines. It is important to follow the instructions on using ozone cleaners. Most machines include a filter to convert ozone into normal oxygen. The FDA has not approved ozone as a means of cleaning CPAP machines.
  • UV light. Some CPAP cleaners use UV rays – the same type of light used in hospital rooms – to target bacteria and fungi. Although UV light is a safer option, it takes longer. UV light has not been approved by the FDA to clean CPAP machines.
  • Disinfectant tablets. While the majority of CPAP cleaning machines focus on other methods, some cleaners ask for disinfectant tablets, which you drop into the machine and add water, just like doing a load of laundry.

Although you should regularly clean your CPAP machine, the FDA has issued a warning against home CPAP cleaning devices that use ozone or UV light as cleaning mechanisms. This is because they are not legally marketed for cleaning purposes. But you can still clean your CPAP machine using the following ingredients:

  • a mild soap (preferably unscented and without moisturizing ingredients)
  • white vinegar (if you are using a humidifier tank)
  • Hot water
  • a sink, tub or bucket
  • a clean towel

To properly clean your CPAP machine, you must unplug it and then take it apart. You can wash the tube with hot soapy water, but the inside of the tube should be cleaned by submerging it long enough for it to fill with soap and water.

Each part of the mask, cushion and harness can be washed with mild, oil-free soap. If you are using a humidifier tank, you can soak it with equal parts lukewarm water and vinegar.

Finally, all parts of the machine should be soaked in cold water after you are done cleaning them. From there, you can place them each on a clean towel to air dry. Pipes and tubes dry better if they are hung.

You should only reassemble your machine after all parts are completely dry.

If you still decide to buy a CPAP cleaning machine, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • What is the cleaning mechanism? Many CPAP cleaning machines use ozone, also known as activated oxygen, to effectively kill bacteria. Ozone is very reactive and destroys microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Ozone can be toxic at high levels, so make sure the machine you are looking at keeps ozone inside the machine. Other cleaners can use ultraviolet (UV) light or disinfectant tablets. Neither ozone nor UV are FDA approved cleaning mechanisms.
  • Is it portable? If you sometimes travel with your CPAP machine, you’ll want to take the cleanser that came with it as well. This means you’ll want the cleaner to be as compact and light as possible.
  • How do you charge it? Some CPAP cleaners use batteries, while others charge through an electrical outlet or USB port. This aspect of CPAP machines depends on your personal preferences.

How to use a CPAP cleaning machine?

CPAP cleaning machines are generally intuitive to use and come with full instructions. With most machines, all you need to do is put your CPAP headset and mask inside and press a button. You will remove your CPAP parts once the cleaning and drying cycle is complete.

How often should I clean my CPAP machine?

Ideally, you should clean your CPAP mask, mask pad, and humidifier water pan once a week.

Are CPAP cleaning machines covered by insurance?

Insurance policies do not cover CPAP cleaning machines and supplies. Insurance companies do not view these machines as essential. You will have to pay the cost of a CPAP cleaner out of pocket.

Is A CPAP Cleaning Machine Worth It?

CPAP cleaning machines are not required. Since the most common cleaning mechanisms are not FDA approved, we do not recommend purchasing a CPAP cleaning machine that uses ozone or UV light. It is possible to clean your CPAP mask and other equipment by hand.

Cleaning your CPAP machine is essential to putting your health first when using the equipment night after night. Cleaning your CPAP machine can be done by hand. CPAP cleaning machines that use UV light or ozone are not FDA approved.

With a clean CPAP machine, you can rest easy knowing your materials are as clean as possible.


Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer based in Atlanta, Georgia. It focuses on the health, marketing and education sectors. Customers include Livestrong, Runner’s World, Dell, and others. Hailey is also a novelist and musician.


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