Tips for Better CPAP Equipment Maintenance

Posted May 24, 2011 by Kristen P. in Tips & Tricks

Cleaning and Maintenance for CPAP Supplies and MasksBoth new and experienced CPAP users alike may have some confusion as to the best way to clean and maintain their CPAP equipment. Each piece of equipment has different requirements and a different expected lifespan, or time to replacement. CPAP machines often have hard-to-find filters that can be easy to forget, and CPAP masks generally have very delicate cushions and components that require specific cleaning techniques. We’d like to offer some general tips and little-known facts about CPAP maintenance for our CPAP users.

Your CPAP Machine

  • Every CPAP machine has an expected lifespan of up to five years. Some users will find their machine lasts much longer than that, and some may have machine issues that crop up before that time. Remember, if your machine stops working properly during your first year of ownership, it should still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Each CPAP machine has a machine-specific filter (or filters) that should be changed regularly. Each filter type has a different expected lifespan, but, in general, disposable (or paper) filters should be replaced once per month, while non-disposable filters should be replaced every 3-6 months.
  • Non-disposable filters are most often made of foam and can be washed out with water and set out to dry completely before use. Washing a foam filter may increase its lifespan, but filters should still be replaced by the six month mark.
  • CPAP machines don’t have to be cleaned (and should never be submerged in water) but a dusting and wipe down with a slightly damp cloth can be beneficial. Be sure to check the air intake area of the machine to remove any collected dust, and ensure that your machine is placed on a level surface with no material or curtains that could interfere with the intake area.
  • Other machine accessories, including data cards and power cords, may need to be replaced due to loss or equipment malfunction. CPAP parts and accessories can be found at our store.

Your Humidifier

Some humidifiers are integrated with the CPAP machine, while others stand alone. Regardless of the type you have, each humidifier has one main component that needs to be properly maintained – the humidifier chamber.

  • To best maintain your humidifier, follow all of the usage instructions closely, and always use distilled water to fill your chamber (tap water can have minerals and chemicals that damage the components of the humidifier).
  • Regular cleaning of the humidifier chamber is a must. Chambers should be cleaned after every use with a mixture of one part mild dish soap and one part hot water. Chambers can be left out to dry on a towel during the day. Some chambers are dishwasher-safe, but check your manual to be sure before washing it in your dishwasher.
  • Humidifier water chambers should be replaced often due to their limited lifespan. Most chambers are expected to last 6 months or less. Replacement humidifier chambers can be purchased in our store.

Your CPAP Mask and Other Accessories

Like humidifiers, mask maintenance and replacement times can be specific to each design of mask, but in general, there are a few good tips to follow:

  • CPAP masks cushions are made of silicone, a very delicate and non-irritating material. And while this material is great for almost all skin types, its delicate nature means it has a limited lifespan. Most CPAP masks are made to last 3-6 months before needing to be replaced, in part or as a whole.
  • Regular mask cleaning can increase the life of your CPAP mask. Facial oils left on the cushion of your CPAP mask in the morning can cause a quicker breakdown of the delicate silicone mask cushion. Cleaning the cushion and components of your mask after each use can increase its effective usage time.
  • Masks should only be cleaned with gentle cleansers. A mild dish soap mixed in equal parts with water can be an effective, and gentle, cleaner. There are also all-natural cleaners and cleaning wipes that are designed specifically for the delicate masks.
  • Specific mask parts can fail individually, leaving the mask unusable. It is possible to replace a certain part of many masks, such as just purchasing the mask headgear, cushion, or forehead pad. Parts for almost all CPAP masks can be found using our Part Finder tool.
  • CPAP tubing has maintenance needs, too. It should be replaced every 3 months and should be cleaned using the mild detergent mixture one time per week (fully submerge the tubing and then leave it hanging to dry completely during the day).

Resources for Cleaning and Maintenance - 

CPAP Parts & Accessories
Replacement CPAP Machine Filters
Machine Tubing
Replacement CPAP Mask Parts
CPAP Mask and Machine Cleaners
Equipment Cleaning Wipes
CPAP Tubing Cleaner

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Comments (8) -

Kristen P. @ CPAP Supply USA
5/24/2011 11:38:08 AM #

We just spoke with our ResMed representative and he says that Shaq has decided to use a Mirage FX, Swift FX, and Swift LT as his masks and the ResMed S9 Autoset CPAP Machine. Very good choices, Shaq!

Mike White
5/31/2011 8:34:53 PM #

we are not getting any air out of the respitorater/ i have cleaned the filter and the batteries are charged/ i have it hooked up to the ac power supply/ no air flow.... please help

Kristen P. @ CPAP Supply USA
6/2/2011 8:39:30 AM #

Hi Mike,

I am sorry that your CPAP is not working properly! Can you tell me what type of machine you have? How long ago did you purchase it? What brand is the machine?

We'll be happy to help, but I'll need to know a bit more information. If you purchased your machine from CPAP Supply USA, please call 866-560-2727 to speak with a customer service representative about your options. Thanks for visiting our blog!

Greg Smith
6/6/2011 11:51:15 AM #

Instead of distilled water for the tank, can one use home-filtered water such as with the brand Brita water filtering system (box says filters out various things but specifically does not remove fluoride)?

Kristen P. @ CPAP Supply USA
6/8/2011 9:56:56 AM #

Hi Greg,

Unfortunately, the only recommended solution is to use distilled water only, not filtered tap water. Those filters may leave behind certain trace elements that can damage your humidifier or cause problems for you, as you inhale them. I would only recommend using distilled water purchased in gallon jugs or by making your own using a process described here:

Thanks for visiting us, Greg! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Tom Kelty
7/12/2011 3:42:05 PM #

It is not clear to me about refilling daily with distilled water. Can I simply add distilled water each day, or should I empty the and start a total refill?

Norma Hoston
10/17/2011 12:50:21 PM #

I have not used my cpap in some time now. I need an instruction booklet for the REMstar plus M series. I now have to use it again. Can you tell me how I can get an instruction booklet.

James Brantley
5/19/2012 2:53:09 PM #

I am getting ready to order additional supplies on the including cleaning solution and wipes. What would you recommend I use to clean my tubing until my order arrives? Also, I will be ordering a new reservoir too because of the residue inside the tank. I have always used distilled water but recently ran out. What can I clean the tank with while waiting on my new one? Thanks

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