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Keeping your CPAP equipment clean
last updated:
Tue, 10/23/2012 1:59 PM

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the standard treatment option for moderate to severe cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and is a good option for mild sleep apnea. CPAP blows air into a person’s windpipe at a set, steady pressure. This airflow keeps the airway open, preventing pauses in breathing and restoring normal oxygen levels.

Patients who require CPAP supplies can order them conveniently online by clicking here.

Whether you are a patient who has just started CPAP treatment, or a patient who has experienced the benefits of this treatment for many years, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how to clean and disinfect your respiratory equipment. Check out these tips from for how to keep your equipment in pristine working order.

Cleaning and disinfecting your respiratory equipment is essential to the life of the equipment and to your health. Whenever moisture is present, from water supplies, from body humidity, or any bodily fluid, bacteria can grow. If your equipment is not properly cleaned and dried, bacteria builds up and can lead to infections in your body, especially in your airway passages. Also, the oils in your skin and the minerals in tap water can cause premature breakdown in the materials used to manufacture your CPAP equipment, especially your mask. Therefore, we recommend the cleaning and disinfection schedule be followed diligently.

Daily cleaning removes dirt and oils that may harbor germs. Disinfection actually kills germs that may lead to infection. Remember to always wash your hands prior to handling your CPAP equipment.

To wash your CPAP equipment:
Only use a mild, non-lotion detergent. Do not use soap or strong dish washing detergents such as Dawn or Joy. Avoid detergents that use strong perfumes or dyes. We recommend using a dishwashing detergent like Ivory Clear, Palmolive, or Dial Anti-Bacteria for cleaning your equipment.

To disinfect your equipment:
Mix 1/2 oz. (1 tablespoon) of Control III with 2 quarts of water in a plastic container. The solution can be reused for up to 14 days. If the solution becomes visibly dirty, make a fresh batch. First wash and rinse your CPAP equipment, then soak it in the Control III solution for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly (allow water to run for 3 minutes) with tap water and then allow to air dry. Cover dried parts with a clean towel until the equipment is reassembled. To dry your CPAP tubing, hang over a doorknob or hanger. Alternative to Control III - Wash equipment with warm, soapy water, rinse and then soak equipment in a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse well and dry as instructed above.

Drying Hints:
Always hang tubing away from direct sunlight, as this will cause the tubing to become yellow, brittle and crack over a period of time. DO NOT attach the wet tubing to your CPAP unit to blow-dry it. The moisture from the tubing can drain back into your machine. Moisture in your unit can cause sudden pressure increases or short circuits.

Cleaning the CPAP unit:

  • Unplug the unit before cleaning it.
  • Never immerse the unit in water.
  • Using a cloth slightly dampened with water and dish detergent, wipe the outside of the unit.
  • Using a cloth dampened with water only, wipe the outside of the unit again.
  • Use a dry cloth to wipe the unit and then let it air dry.
  • Make sure the unit is thoroughly dry before plugging it in.

Cleaning and Disinfecting the Humidifier:

  • Empty any remaining water after each use.
  • Never immerse the unit in water.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Immerse the humidifier in warm, soapy water.
  • Fill the humidifier with the soapy water and shake the humidifier vigorously.
  • Rinse with clean water and allow to air dry.


  • Mix disinfecting solution (1 tablespoon disinfectant per 2 quarts water).
  • Soak the humidifier in disinfectant for 10 minutes.
  • Be sure the disinfectant completely covers and fills the humidifier.
  • Remove the humidifier and shake out the excess solution and rinse with distilled water.
  • Allow to air dry.

DO's and DON'Ts:

  • Don't use alcohol-based products to clean your mask, because it can cause the materials to become hard and brittle.
  • Do follow the recommended cleaning schedule.
  • Don't use any caustic or household cleaning solutions such as bleach on your CPAP equipment.
  • Do change your disposable filter frequently.
  • Don't put headgear in the washer or dryer.

CPAP Equipment Cleaning and Disinfecting Schedule


Cleaning Frequency


Disinfecting Frequency

Non-Disposable Filters (gray)


Mild soapy water, Rinse, Air Dry

Not Required

Disposable Filters

Change as needed 1 to 2 months

Do Not Wash

Not Required

Hose (without humidifier)


Mild soapy water, Rinse, Air Dry

Not Required

Hose (with humidifier)


Mild soapy water, Rinse, Air Dry

Once a week

Mask / Nasal Pillows


Mild soapy water, Rinse, Air Dry

Once a week


As Needed

Hand wash, Mild soapy water, Rinse, Dry

Not Required



Empty water daily; Mild soapy water, Rinse well, Air Dry

Once a week


As Needed

Dust with damp cloth, No detergents or sprays

Not Required

If you or your loved one requires CPAP supplies or any other home medical equipment, please visit the Methodist Home Medical Equipment Online Store at


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000