Taking care of PAP equipment is vital for sleep apnea patients to benefit the most from PAP therapy.
PAP Machine Cleaning
Proper and routine care for PAP machine cleaning and disinfecting will help:
Prevent growth of bacteria and mold
Prevent sickness and infection (eg, pneumonia or bronchitis)
Keep device and equipment working properly
Prolong the life of the equipment
First and foremost, patients should familiarize themselves with these instructions for care when they first get their machine.
How to clean PAP equipment
Note: bleach, harsh soaps, antibacterial solutions, or alcohol-based solutions should never be used to clean PAP masks, tubing, or related equipment to avoid damage.
There are many parts and accessories that come with PAP machines, and each has its own proper guidance for cleaning and care:
Mask cushions should be washed daily using warm, soap water or PAP equipment-specific wipes or cleaners. After washing, they should be rinsed with water and allowed to air dry (out of direct sunlight).
When using masks, they should be placed on clean skin, free of makeup, oils, and moisturizers.
This is because most mask cushions are made of silicone, which can be broken down faster by facial oils and moisturizers.
Once a week, the mask frame should be soaked in a white vinegar solution (1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water) and then rinsed in distilled water.
Mask headgear and chin straps should be hand-washed weekly using warm, soap water. After rinsing with water, they should be air-dried. Headgear and chinstraps should not be placed in a washing machine or dryer.
Tubing should be submerged (ie, in a sink) and washed in warm water and soap. Brushes can be used as necessary to gently clean the inside of the tubing.
Tubing should then be rinsed, hung, and allowed to air dry (out of direct sunlight).
Humidifier water chamber/reservoir
Firstly, when handling the humidifier water chamber, caution must be taken not to spill any water on or around the PAP machine to avoid damage to the interior circuits.
The chamber must always be removed and then filled away from the machine.
Distilled water is typically recommended for humidifier water chambers and should never be reused (change the water daily). The chamber should also be soaked daily in warm water and soap for 10 minutes, rinsed, and air-dried.
The PAP machine itself typically only needs to be wiped clean on the outside weekly or whenever necessary with a wipe or a cloth with warm water and soap.
The machine should be dried after being wiped clean and should never be submerged in water.
Generally, recommendations are as follows:
Mask cushions: replace 1-2 times per month.
Masks: replace every 3-6 months.
Machines: should be checked yearly to make sure they are working properly. Expiration dates should also be checked.
Filters: replace monthly.
Humidifier water chambers: replace every 6 months or as needed.
Headgear and chin straps: replace every 6 months.
When to clean PAP equipment
As mentioned, it is important to maintain a regular cleaning schedule, even while traveling.
Depending on the equipment, cleaning should be performed daily and weekly. See the table below for a summary of when PAP equipment should be cleaned.
Humidifier water chamber
Mask headgear and chin straps