How to Clean a CPAP Machine

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Learning how to clean your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and its accessories is an investment in both your equipment and your health. Doing so not only keeps things in good running order but prevents bacteria, fungus, and other contaminants that can make you sick from building up.

  • The CPAP machine and water chamber should be cleaned at least once a week (or more often if you have been sick recently).
  • The CPAP mask, tubing, and connectors should be cleaned daily.

You don't need expensive sanitizing devices or solutions to clean a CPAP machine or its accessories. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't back these and instead recommends use of plain old soap and water instead.

This article offers step-by-step instructions on how to clean and maintain your CPAP, including problems that can occur if you don't.

why you should clean your CPAP
Verywell / Jessica Olah

Why You Need to Clean Your CPAP

CPAP machines are designed to deliver a flow of air at constant pressure and temperature. Some units have humidifiers that add extra moisture to the air and filters that sift out larger contaminants that can circulate through the machine.

If not cleaned regularly, germs from your skin and mouth can be transferred to the mask and hose. Thereafter, the temperature and accumulated moisture—not only from the humidifier but also your breath—can create the ideal environment for microorganisms to grow.

Cleaning the machine can help avoid potential harms, including:

  • Skin irritation, including contact dermatitis
  • Bacteria of fungal skin infections
  • Inhalation of mold, dust, and other allergy-causing substances
  • Upper respiratory infections, including sinus infections and pneumonia

Improperly cleaned machines can also develop musty or foul odors from mold and mildew.

What You Need to Clean a CPAP Machine

Everything you need to clean your CPAP machine can either be found in your home or at your local grocery store:

  • A soft cloth
  • Warm water
  • Gentle, fragrance-free dish soap
  • A small sink, tub, or basin
  • A towel

Avoid These Sanitizing Machines

The FDA says you should avoid using CPAP sanitizing machines that use ozone gas or ultraviolet (UV) light. The gas used in the former can be toxic and dangerous above certain levels. The latter cannot kill bacteria, fungi, or other potentially harmful organisms as some manufacturer claim.

How to Clean Your CPAP: Step by Step

Following each of these steps as outlined can ensure that you throughly remove all contaminants and avoid encouraging the introduction of new ones. After a few times, this should become second nature.

Step 1: Disassemble the CPAP

  • Unplug your CPAP machine from its power source.
  • Disconnect your mask from the CPAP tubing.
  • If your mask has headgear, remove or detach it.
  • Remove the CPAP tubing from any connectors, the humidifier output, or the CPAP machine itself if it connects directly.
  • Remove the water chamber from the humidifier unit if it is detachable.

Step 2: Wipe the External Surfaces

  • Take a soft cloth and wet it with warm water.
  • Gently wipe down the external surface of the CPAP machine to remove dust.

Step 3: Wash the Components

  • Fill a small sink or basin with warm water.
  • Add a small amount of dish soap.
  • Submerge the mask, headgear, tubing, and any connectors in the warm soapy water.
  • Allow it to soak for about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, wipe the mask with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water and swirl additional soapy water through the tubing.)
  • Wash the water chamber, if detachable.
  • Allow everything to fully air-dry on a towel rail.

Step 4: Reassemble the CPAP Machine

  • After everything has air-dried, reassemble the machine.
  • Turn the machine on briefly to check for any air leaks.

Step 5: Clean or Replace Filters

Some CPAP machines have filters that can be rinsed out, while others have ones that must be replaced.

Disposable filters are generally swapped out monthly; some are replaced as frequently as every two weeks. Read the directions that came with your machine to know what schedule you should be on.

Tips and Precautions

There are other simple tips to keep in mind when cleaning or maintaining your CPAP machine:

  • Never use perfumed soap or cleaning solutions. These can irritate your lungs and make you sick.
  • Remember to only put distilled water in the humidifier when you use it. If you don't, there's an increased risk of mineralization and motor damage.
  • Do not clean any equipment or components in a dishwasher. The water temperatures can degrade the components, meaning you may have to replace them sooner.

If you feel that your CPAP isn’t working correctly and your sleep apnea symptoms ​have returned, bring your machine to your equipment provider or sleep specialist to have it checked out.

2 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.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CPAP machine cleaning: ozone, UV light products are not FDA approved,

  2. Schnirman R, Nur N, Bonitati A, Carino G. A case of legionella pneumonia caused by home use of continuous positive airway pressureSAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2017;5:2050313X17744981. doi:10.1177/2050313X17744981

Additional Reading

By Brandon Peters, MD
Brandon Peters, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist.