Using the CPAP Cleaners Soclean or Lumin

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a treatment for sleep apnea that uses a constant flow of air to keep the airway open while a person sleeps. To keep machines clean, doctors recommend that users clean their devices regularly with soap and water.

In addition, some advertisers claim that CPAP cleaners or sanitizers like SoClean or Lumin can reduce CPAP users' risk of infections.

But is there any evidence to support those claims? This article explains the purposes, costs, potential benefits, and possible risks of CPAP cleaners.

Man Wearing CPAP Mask On Bed

Andrey Popov / Getty Images

Keeping CPAP Equipment Clean

CPAP manufacturers, suppliers, and sleep physicians all recommend cleaning CPAP equipment regularly. In fact, the ability to keep CPAP products clean and well-maintained is part of the overall clinical assessment for healthcare providers treating people who use them.

Basic cleaning instructions include:

This cleaning standard can be hard to maintain. Therefore, some people never clean their equipment. But dirty equipment can lead to significant problems, including:

  • Minerals that accumulate within the water chamber
  • Mucus that collects in the mask
  • Germs harbored in the tubing
  • Mold may grow in moist environments
  • Unpleasant smells from the machine
  • The equipment may appear unhygienic.

Dirty equipment could lead to direct exposure to bacteria, viruses, and molds. This exposure may raise the possibility of infections and even pneumonia.

Infection Risks

CPAP has been around for more than 35 years. Millions of people use the therapy nightly. 

The risk of contracting an infection from CPAP equipment seems relatively small. However, there are very few research studies into the relationship between unsanitary equipment and infection.

In a 2017 study of 137 people, there were no differences found between CPAP users and non-CPAP users regarding upper respiratory infections and pneumonia.

CPAP use, mask choice, or humidifier use had no impact on the prevalence of infections. In addition, it also did not affect the type of micro-organisms that were isolated based on nasal, mask, and humidifier swabs.

In an earlier study from 2012, researchers found CPAP treatment decreased inflammation and mucus production within the nose, potentially reducing congestion and the risk for infection.

There is no conclusive evidence that unsanitized CPAP machines lead to infections. However, regular cleaning is an easy way to reduce the potential risk of infections.

Sanitizing Options

Most professionals recommend cleaning CPAP equipment with liquid dish soap and hot water or diluted vinegar and water.

For decades, these cleaning standards have proven adequate in preventing widespread respiratory infections associated with CPAP use. On the other hand, neglecting routine CPAP cleaning is associated with complications if its use, including infection.

A number of companies have developed a niche market of CPAP cleaners and sanitizers that use technologies to clean by using ozone gas, or alternately with ultraviolet (UV) light. However, there is concern over the use of these devices.

FDA Warnings Over CPAP Cleaners

The Food and Drug Administration has not authorized the use of ozone gas or UV light for CPAP cleaning. Between 2017 and 2019, the FDA logged 11 complaints of cough, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms from people using ozone gas cleaners. It warns of safety risks from using ozone gas and UV light products, which it considers "illegally marketed" in the United States.

SoClean 2

SoClean 2 is an automatic CPAP cleaner that allows users to clean their CPAP machine daily without taking the machine apart. Instead, it cleans by delivering ozone into a sealed container and the CPAP device's internal chambers from the mask via the tubing.

Benefits

The device reportedly kills 99.9% of bacteria found in CPAP masks, tubing, and water reservoirs based on controlled laboratory testing.

In addition, you don't have to disassemble the mask —it is placed directly in the container with the tubing poking through a side hole.

A smaller travel version, the So Clean 2 Go, operates on 8 AA batteries.

Risks

Since ozone exposure is potentially dangerous for those with respiratory conditions, the residual smell of ozone may be unpleasant and risky. Federal law describes it as a "toxic gas with no known useful medical application."

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that relatively low amounts of ozone can cause shortness of breath and worsen chronic respiratory disease. Ironically, exposure to it may compromise the body's ability to fight respiratory infections.

As of February 1, 2020, ResMed has indicated that ozone damage will void the CPAP manufacturer's warranty. Therefore, they recommend that SoClean not be used with ResMed CPAP machines.

Cost: $398. Annual replacement parts: $30 (cartridge filter kit).

Lumin

Lumin uses UVB light to clean and sanitize CPAP machines. To use, place the mask or water chamber in the sliding drawer to clean. Since there is no direct exposure to UV light, the risks associated with this (such as skin cancer or eye damage) are irrelevant.

Benefits

This device promises to kill 99% of bacteria with UV light. In addition, it works quickly, delivering a dose of sanitizing light in just 5 minutes.

You can also use it to clean dentures, hearing aids, and toothbrushes.

Risks

The device may create an unpleasant smell within the equipment, but this may not be harmful. Unfortunately, it only cleans the surfaces directly exposed to the light.

Opaque materials may interfere with the efficacy of the cleaning. Therefore, you can not use it to clean CPAP tubing (you would need to use a separate device to clean the tubing).

It is theoretically possible that the UV light may deteriorate the plastics of the CPAP equipment.

Cost: $249. Annual replacement parts: None

Summary

CPAP sanitizing machines can be used to disinfect CPAP devices. However, there is no evidence that sanitizing devices reduce the risk of infection. Ultimately, regularly cleaning your CPAP with soap and water is probably sufficient.

A Word From Verywell

Further research is needed to determine if these devices have any beneficial role in routine CPAP cleaning. However, the risk of infection is so tiny, and the evidence for the benefit is so weak that these devices are not currently recommended. Instead, soap and water do the trick.

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by CPAP.com for review purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the best way to clean your CPAP?

    To clean the CPAP, you can soak the mask, hoses, and connectors in soapy water and allow them to air dry. Next, clean the humidifier's water chamber as directed in the owner's manual. Check manufacturer instructions on whether you should replace or rinse the filters.

  • What are the steps to clean CPAP equipment?

    To clean the CPAP, you can soak the face mask, detachable hoses, and connectors in a sink with soapy water. You can then hang up the parts to air dry. Next, clean the humidifier's water chamber as directed in the owner's manual. For the filters, check the manufacturer's instructions on whether you should replace them or if you can rinse them.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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