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How to Clean a CPAP Machine

March 24, 2023 In Philips CPAP Recall

If you are one of the millions of people who live with sleep apnea, you may own a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to manage your condition. These machines help keep the airway open during the night, reducing the unpleasant and sometimes dangerous interruptions in breathing.

However, to ensure the longevity and optimal functioning of the CPAP device, it is important to keep it clean. A CPAP machine that is not cleaned regularly can cause bacterial and mold buildup, which can result in respiratory-related illnesses. If you’ve been harmed due to a defective or dangerous device, a Philips CPAP recall lawyer may be able to help.

How Often Should You Clean Your CPAP Machine?

If you own a CPAP machine, regular cleaning is essential to ensure the effectiveness of the device. Cleaning the mask cushion is particularly important, as this is the part that comes in contact with your face. Maintaining its cleanliness helps to preserve the integrity of the CPAP seal, thus protecting its effectiveness.

Ideally, you should clean your CPAP machine every day. If this isn’t feasible, cleaning it at least once a week will help prevent the buildup of bacteria and mold, which can cause respiratory-related illnesses. Regular cleaning also helps to prolong the lifespan of the CPAP machine.

Materials Needed to Clean a CPAP Machine

Because CPAP machines are sophisticated medical equipment, you need to use the right cleaning supplies to maintain their effectiveness. Essential cleaning supplies for CPAP machines may include:

  • Mild Antibacterial Soap: Strong disinfectants containing acids or bases can cause respiratory issues, so opt for a gentle soap to clean your device. You can use a mild, ammonia-free dish detergent to clean the mask.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar acts as a mild disinfectant and inhibits the growth of bacteria, which makes it an effective cleaning solution for CPAP machines.
  • Clinical-Grade Solutions: Some manufacturers sell clinical-grade cleaning solutions specifically made for CPAP devices. When searching for cleaning solutions, choose a mild product with antibacterial properties and avoid those containing chlorine or alcohol. 
  • Warm Distilled Water: Use distilled water to rinse the various CPAP parts, as tap water may contain harmful microorganisms or minerals that can cause blockage. Make sure to warm the distilled water on the stove or in the microwave. If you must use tap water, boil it first to ensure that it is as clean as possible.
  • Wipes: Not everyone can clean their CPAP machines every day, which makes antibacterial wipes especially useful. You can use these between water-based cleanings to spot-clean your nasal pillows or mask.

When cleaning your CPAP device, avoid using bleach or scented soaps and lotions, as they can have adverse effects. Bleach can cause irritation, corrosion, or toxic gases, while scented products may emit volatile compounds or toxic chemicals that can lead to health issues.

How to Clean Your CPAP Device

Before cleaning your CPAP machine, check the manufacturer’s manual first. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your CPAP machine, which can be found in the device’s manual. The manufacturers have extensive knowledge of their devices, and their recommendations are likely to be effective in maintaining the integrity of the machine.

As a general guideline, follow these steps:

  • Nasal Pillows and Face Masks: Use water with mild detergent to remove skin oils from the mask, then rinse all tubing and face wear with soapy water. Disinfect the face components weekly with a solution containing one part vinegar and three parts water. Soak for 30 minutes, rinse with warm water, and air dry.
  • Nasal or Face Mask Cushions, Hedgers, and Systems: Remove the mask from the rest of the machine, wash the parts with mild soap and warm water, and rinse them thoroughly. Air dry these components away from direct sunlight. 
  • Humidifiers: Clean humidifiers or water chambers daily or weekly. Empty the water in the humidifier, remove the chamber from the CPAP unit, and soak it in soapy water for 30 minutes. Some manufacturers suggest using vinegar as a sanitizing agent by soaking the humidifier in warm water with a vinegar solution for 30 minutes. Rinse the humidifier with distilled water, then air-dry it. 

Risks of Not Cleaning Your CPAP Device

Without regular cleaning, a CPAP machine can become contaminated with harmful bacteria and germs, posing serious health risks. These microorganisms can come from many different sources, including the air you breathe and oils from your skin, which can penetrate the tubing and mask. This contamination can lead to skin infections, weaken the mask cushion, and compromise the CPAP machine’s integrity, causing air leakage. 

Additionally, the water in the humidifier chamber, which is critical in keeping the air moist, can harbor bacteria and fungi if not changed regularly. As a result, you could develop severe respiratory-related illnesses. CPAP side effects, including reactive airway disease, can also occur if bacteria make their way to the lungs. In some cases, Legionella bacteria, known for causing pneumonia, have been found in humidifier chamber water. For these reasons, it is critical to clean your CPAP device weekly, if not daily.

Should You Invest in a CPAP Cleaning Device?

If you want to keep your CPAP clean without the time and effort required for manual cleaning, you may want to invest in a CPAP cleaning device. There are two types of CPAP cleaning machines available: ozone gas cleaners and UV light machines. However, it is important to note that these devices are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing in the United States.

Philips, the world’s largest CPAP machine manufacturer, attributed the breakdown of the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam in its machines to the use of CPAP cleaning machines. This breakdown has led to a recall of Philips CPAP machines. The foam’s degradation can release harmful particles and gases, which could lead to serious health problems if inhaled, including the risk of cancer. However, the extent to which cleaning devices contributed to the degradation of PE-PUR foam is uncertain.

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Defective CPAP Machine

Many people have been affected by Philips’ defective CPAP machines. Now, these patients are filing lawsuits against the manufacturer, seeking compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and associated damages. If you developed health problems and believe that your Philips CPAP device is responsible, you may qualify for legal action.

In these situations, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible and talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options for sleep apnea. Then, contact a Philips CPAP lawsuit attorney to discuss your case and take your first steps toward justice.