How To Clean a CPAP Humidifier

December 25, 2009 | CPAP Tips & Tutorials |
washing cpap equipment

Why Use a CPAP Humidifier?

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the throat muscles to collapse during sleep, preventing oxygen from traveling to the brain and lungs. Left untreated, this disease has been linked to a number of serious health risks

During CPAP therapy, pressurized air is delivered to a patient’s airway to keep it open throughout the night. The pressurized air of CPAP can lead to sore throats and nasal irritation in the morning, especially for patients living in dry or elevated climates. Humidifiers introduce moisture into CPAP therapy to help hydrate the air for more comfortable therapy and fewer side effects.

Why Clean a CPAP Humidifier?

Calcium and other minerals bond to similar molecules, eventually collecting on the surface of the humidifier water chamber. Eventually, these deposits become large enough to see either on the surface or floating in the water. Calcium and other minerals can cause damage to the water chamber, rubber, and silicon O-ring sealers if not properly cleaned.

Users of CPAP machines with humidifiers should following a cleaning schedule to properly maintain their water chambers. We suggest the following schedule to improve the service life your CPAP humidifier and water chamber.

How to Clean a CPAP Humidifier?

Daily

Be sure to rinse any excess water from the water chamber after each use. Reusing old water can lead to a buildup of germs and bacteria that may cause illness. Follow your device’s specific instructions for removing the water chamber before emptying the water. Do not empty your water chamber with the humidifier still attached to your CPAP machine.

Weekly 

Select a day to use approved CPAP cleaning supplies to clean all surfaces inside and outside the water chamber. Inspect O-ring seals for any damage and look for cracks in the water chamber. If any components are not correct, replace them immediately. Using damaged parts can cause leaks that can damage your entire CPAP machine.

Monthly

Select a day each month to use distilled vinegar and water to clean and disinfect the water chamber. The monthly process should be as follows:

Hard plastic parts should be boiled in a mixture of one part distilled vinegar and one part distilled water for 10 minutes. Let air dry completely.
Soak the rubber and silicone O-rings in a mixture of one-part distilled vinegar and one-part distilled water for 30 minutes. Brush each with a soft bristle toothbrush to remove the loosened deposits. Let air dry completely. Once components are dry, reassemble for use.

Following these procedures will extend the life of your CPAP humidifier and water chamber. If you need to replace any part of your humidifier, contact our knowledgeable customer care team for assistance. We provide replacement parts for a number of CPAP manufacturers. Call 866-414-9700 or email questions@thecpapshop.com today.

This post had an update from its original version on March 29, 2021.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop

Author

Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…


14 Comments Leave new

  • K. Frasier

    Cleaning all parts of a Cpap unit a d reservoir as described is impossible for a busy person.

    • Chris Vasta

      We understand how daunting maintaining a regular cleaning routine for your CPAP equipment can seem, especially with a busy schedule. However, please note that it is imperative to your health to keep for your CPAP equipment clean.

  • Jeffrey teoh

    Hi Jeffrey here , I would like ask why every times when I sleep over 7 hour my water chamber will dry out and got a lot white mark inside it very hard to clean it .

    • Andrew Rivenbark

      Hi Jeffrey,

      It is very possible that your humidifier settings are too high. If the water in your chamber is being used up too quickly, try lowering the humidifier temperature from your machine’s settings. If you use a heated tube, try lowering the temperature on that as well. If you are still having issues, don’t hesitate to call our customer care team at 866-414-9700. Thanks!

  • Jeffrey teoh

    Hi Jeffrey here , I would like ask why every times when I sleep over 7 hour my water chamber will dry and got a lot white mark inside it ?

  • Catherine

    With the Corona virus upon us, I’m wondering if you recommend a home ventilator or respirator for CPAP users?

    • Chris Vasta

      Hello, Catherine. No, I do not advise a home ventilator or respirator for CPAP users unless prescribed by a physician. The best practice would be to wash your hands often and use sanitizing products.

  • Cameron Perry

    Hi I’m 65 years old and never had a cough or bronchitis, 2 years ago I started using a cap machine ( top of range Philip’s respironics dream sleeper) I clean the machine every 4 days using hot medicated soapy water ( pipes mask tank a rubber o ring) now I have been diagnosed with bronchitis and have had this dry cough for nearly 2 months I have used antibiotics and ventolin inhaler ( prescribed) the inhaler helps just a little but not for long,my question is is it better to use the cap machine dry or with water while the condition exists and or should I stop using it altogether untill I’m cured.

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Cameron
      never stop therapy unless instructed by your physician. Humidity is an option that we recommend as it helps most patients. you can adjust the level of humidity. if you are cleaning all parts properly, you may want to look into the purchase of a Lumin or SoClean2. these devises disinfect your equipment.

  • CJ Moench

    Okay, Keith posted his comment in January of this year…it is now middle November 2017…that’s 10 months ago….hmmm….NO VIDEO ON CLEANING CPAP MACHINES YET……Excuses?…let’s see the video please. Thanks…..I too, use a CPAP!

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi CJ
      Sorry about taking a long time to answer this comment. It’s just a bit confusing. As you know there isn’t much to clean on a CPAP machine because you cannot open a cpap..its the heater chamber, filter and all the accessories that need to be cleaned. We do have a SoClean cleaning video and have discussed cleaning the water heater chamber previously too.

  • Keith Smith

    A video of cleanig procedures would be good.

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Keith,

      Thank you for your Comment, Yes, we are working on a video showing cleaning procedures. We will update the post and you when it is live.

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