How to Clean a CPAP Machine

managing with sleep apnea

It is essential for the long life of your CPAP machine that you take proper care of it. Everything must be kept as clean as possible to reduce the risk of bacteria or mold growth. When you are cleaning a CPAP machine, there are several tasks you will want to perform daily as well as weekly.

Why Cleaning your CPAP Machine is Important

There are countless reasons why keeping any medical machinery clean is important. When dealing with a CPAP machine, there are four main reasons to ensure that it is being properly cleaned on a regular basis. They are as follows:

  • CPAP supplies can degrade over time
  • Cushions can lose their seal with repeated use
  • Dirty filters can damage your CPAP machine
  • Bacteria and mold can grow in the unit and throughout the parts

Daily CPAP Machine Cleaning Tasks

Just as you want to properly care for your own hygiene needs each day, there are several tasks you should perform on your CPAP machine daily. Be sure you set up a daily routine where you can spend a few minutes to care for your machine.

The first thing you will want to do is wipe down your mask after you are done using it. Make sure you reach every area that has come in contact with your skin. You can use a damp towel with a gentle detergent and some warm water. Then rinse the mask with a clean towel and allow to completely air-dry. This will ensure that you’ve removed all oils, sweat and dead skin cells. If this is not done properly, your mask may not seal the way you need it to.

If you would prefer not to use the damp towel method, you can purchase some pre-moistened towels designed to clean a CPAP machine. Most sleep centers have these available. While it is easier to do the cleaning this way, it will be more expensive for you in the long run.

If your CPAP machine contains a humidifier, you’ll want to empty all the leftover water in the morning. Never allow this to sit in the unit all day. At night, before you are ready to use your machine again, simply refill with clean, distilled water.

When you’ve been sick, it is more important than ever to clean your CPAP machine. Wash the mask, tubing, filter, and humidifier each day during your illness. This will help you stay clear of unnecessary germs.

Weekly CPAP Machine Cleaning Tasks

Make sure you set aside a designated time each week when you can properly care for your CPAP machine. You’ll want to give the unit a complete cleaning to keep it free from any germs, bacteria, and dust.

Start by cleaning the CPAP tubing, headgear, and nasal mask. You can accomplish this in your bathroom sink with some warm water and several drops of a mild dish detergent that is ammonia-free. Mix all these elements around in the sink for approximately five minutes. Then, be sure to rinse well with warm water and allow the elements to air dry all day. You can choose to hang the tubing over your shower rod or on a towel rack. This will help to ensure that all the water has thoroughly dripped out of the tubing.

Your mask and headgear need to also be air-dried completely. The best place to do this would be on a towel, or you could hang them on a hook.

The next step will be to clean the CPAP machine itself. Always keep in mind that you don’t want to get the machine too damp or wet as it could end up inside the components and ruin it. Instead, simply wipe it down with a damp cloth.

Be sure to pay careful attention to the CPAP machine’s filter. This is where the dust and debris will settle. You can remove it and rinse it down with some warm tap water. Squeeze it gently to ensure that all the dust has been removed. Then, dry the filter by blotting it carefully with a towel.

If your machine has a white filter, you will not want to wash this—they are disposable and should be replaced once a month. If you find that it has become dirty before the month is over, you should always replace it sooner.

For CPAP machines that contain a humidifier, you’ll need to ensure a deep cleaning every week as well. Start by emptying all the remaining water left in the tank. Then, wash the chamber in your sink with some warm, soapy water. Rinse this out well and be sure to drain as much of the water as possible. You will want to allow the chamber to air-dry completely before you place it back onto the CPAP machine.

Mark your calendars that every other week, you’ll want to take a little extra care with the humidifier. It will be important to disinfect the chamber thoroughly to reduce any risk of mold and bacteria. Start by soaking it in a solution made up of one-part vinegar and five parts of water. You should do this for at least 30 minutes. Then, rinse the chamber thoroughly and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher for an added washing. Again, don’t put the humidifier back onto the CPAP machine until it is completely dried.

It is very important if you have a humidifier with your unit, then you only ever use distilled water. This prevents any buildup of mineral deposits that will damage your machine over time.


Cleaning your CPAP machine on a regular basis is an important aspect to keeping you healthy and comfortable. It will also increase the lifespan of your CPAP machine and enable it to remain in top-notch working order. With a little bit of your time both daily and weekly, you will be able to prolong the life of your unit. Be sure to take the time now to maintain and clean your machine so you can remain healthy and enjoy quality sleep for many years to come.

Without a doubt, the easiest way to clean and sanitize your CPAP equipment is with the SoClean 2 CPAP cleaning unit. No water and no messy chemicals necessary. It is almost universally acclaimed as the most effective way to clean your CPAP equipment.