Sanitization - Cleaning CPAP Equipment



Cleaning CPAP Equipment





CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) systems consist of a small powered unit with hoses connecting to a face mask (or nasal pillows) to deliver positive airway pressure to the respiratory system for people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Some units include a humidifier, some a heated humidifier. The mask is held firmly in place with headgear (usually made of thin latex and foam.) Some patients also wear chin straps.


The purpose of this cleaning procedure is to prepare the base unit (usually with humidifier) for re-use. Before passing the unit on to a new patient, the mask or nasal pillows, the tubing, headgear and chin strap should be discarded. All of these accessories should be new components for the next user. Each patient must be fitted for a new mask of appropriate size and configuration by a qualified professional. Only the base unit should be re-utilized for a new patient. New accessories can be acquired from a durable medical equipment provider.




Because this is a respiratory device, routine cleaning and disinfection are critical to its safe usage at home. If the equipment and accessories are not cleaned and dried properly, bacteria build-up can lead to infections in the airways.




Hands should always be washed thoroughly before handling CPAP equipment.


Before washing the parts of CPAP equipment, the unit should be unplugged from power. The humidifier reservoir should be removed and the water drained.


Cleaning supplies. The external parts of the base unit may be cleaned with a mild, non-lotion detergent. Neither soap nor strong dishwashing detergents should be used. Detergents that use strong perfumes or dyes should be avoided. Mild dishwashing detergents are recommended. For disinfecting, two methods are acceptable. Users may purchase a commercial anti-bacterial product and mix according to directions. Or, they may use equal parts of white distilled vinegar and water. Neither bleach nor caustic cleaning aids should be used on any component of the CPAP system.


The outside cabinet of the basic unit may be wiped down with a damp cloth dipped in soapy water. It can be rinsed by using a cloth dipped only in clean water, then wiped with a dry cloth and allowed to air dry.


The humidifier reservoir should be emptied. The water reservoir should be immersed in warm, soapy water, then filled with the soapy water and shaken vigorously. The reservoir should be rinsed well with clean water. [The user should do this after each use.] To disinfect the unit, the cleaned reservoir should be soaked in a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and water (or a solution recommended by the manufacturer of the unit), rinsed well with distilled water and set aside to air dry. [The user should do this every three days.]


Some CPAP units have non-disposable filters. These should be removed and washed in mild, soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and air dried before replacing. Filters should never be replaced into the unit while damp. Disposable filters should not be washed. They should be changed as needed, usually every month or two.




“CPAP Education,” Retrieved on December 6, 2007, from


“CPAP Equipment Cleaning & Disinfecting Schedule and Instructions.” Retrieved on

December 6, 2007, from


White, Connie R., RPSGT, Director, Neurophysiology Services, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Fayetteville, Georgia, reviewed draft procedures on December 9, 2007, and added practical suggestions based on years of experience directing hospital-based sleep centers.



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.


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Title: Sanitization - Cleaning CPAP Equipment
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 6:18 PM