How Do I Clean the Water Tank on My CPAP Machine?

If you have been prescribed a CPAP machine, you will have been told you need to clean the water tank regularly. Not doing so can result in exposure to bacteria, mold, and allergens. It can also shorten the life of your machine.

Generally, you should clean the water tank on your CPAP machine at least once a week. Your mask, however, should be washed daily, especially if you have an upper respiratory infection. 

Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of cleaning your CPAP water tank.

How To Clean Your CPAP Water Tank

If anyone tells you you need to undergo a complex cleaning process for your CPAP water tank, they’re not getting enough sleep! Here are the easy-breathey steps you will need to take.

  1. Gather your CPAP cleaning equipment. You will need antibacterial dish soap or plain white vinegar, hot water, and a soft cloth.
  2. Remove the water tank from the humidifier and empty any unused water. If your water tank comes apart, you may find it easier to disassemble before cleaning, but most modern water tanks only open.
  3. Wipe down thoroughly inside and out with a cloth soaked in hot, soapy water. Some manufacturers recommend the use of diluted vinegar instead. Check the instructions for your CPAP. Vinegar can also be a good alternative if you are sensitive to soap.
  4. Allow to air dry COMPLETELY before putting back in the machine. Because of this, you should always clean your CPAP water tank in the morning so as to ensure it is dry when you need it. It is very important that it is completely dry before you refill it and use it, to prevent the risk of bacteria growth.

That’s truly it!! You truly don’t need anything complicated to clean your water tank. 

If you’re looking for an even simplified solution, you can use CPAP cleaning wipes to clean your water tank (as well as your tube and mask). These work well if you’re on an extended trip and don’t have access to your normal cleaning supplies or even a sink (where our avid campers at?!). And if you haven’t yet heard, we’re giving away a free pack of SoClean Unscented Wipes this month with the purchase of $50 or more.* So no more excuses! 

Another doubly simplified option is to use a CPAP sanitizing device, which will clean your equipment in around two hours without needing water and without needing to take it apart. Some people like the convenience of these machines, while others prefer to save money and clean manually.

We can’t stress this enough though: be sure to double check the manufacturers’ instructions to be sure your water tank can be cleaned in these ways. 

How NOT to Clean Your CPAP Water Tank

We hope you’re still reading, but this part is equally important! There are a few things you should not do with your CPAP’s water tank. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Use harsh cleaners. The only thing you should ever use on your water tank is soap or diluted vinegar.
  2. Dry the tank with a cloth towel. This risks leaving lint on the inside of your tank which will then break down and cause problems.
  3. Use tap water in your CPAP, especially if you live in an area with hard water. Doing so occasionally won’t hurt, per se, but eventually it will cause the accumulation of minerals and shorten the life of your chamber. Use distilled water unless you have an emergency and are unable to get it. Also don’t use bottled drinking water as it also often contains minerals that might accumulate in your reservoir.
  4. Put any part of your CPAP in a dishwasher or washing machine. This can significantly shorten the life of your equipment and can result in leaks that reduce its effectiveness.
  5. Use perfumed or scented soaps. Fragrances can irritate your lungs and cause allergies. This includes fragrances associated with healthy sleep, such as lavender. If you gotta have the lav, use a sachet under your pillow instead.

Keeping your CPAP water reservoir clean is vital to protect your health and prevent odors and allergies. For more CPAP cleaning tips, check out our CPAP Spring Cleaning blog series

*Discount good for one (1) pack of SoClean Unscented Wipes per customer. Customer must add product to cart. Cart total must be more than $50.00. Offer ends 3/31/2021.

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