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CPAP Cleaning: A Lazy Man's Method

I'm a fairly black and white kind of guy, so when I first got CPAP, I actually read the care and maintenance instructions. I'm also a fairly lazy kind of guy, so half-way through reading them, I stopped and gave up. I never liked puzzles, and assembling and disassembling and caring for a mask, humidifier, CPAP, tubing, etc., all seemed to me like a puzzle from hell, each night for every remaining night of my life.

Then my physician, who is at Stanford Medical Center and is one of the world's foremost authorities on sleep medicine, told me to lighten up. The following is what he advised, and what I do every day -- nothing more, nothing less. It may not be the ideal way to go about things, so take it for what it's worth, but it's my way, and it has worked for me so far:

I never clean it. Ever. When I wake up in the morning, I hang it over a hook to let any condensation in there dry up. Then I throw it away and get my insurance to pay for a new one after 3 months.

I never clean it either. I just remove it from its chamber every morning and empty out any remaining water in the sink. I set it down on a towel to dry out during the day. I toss it, too, after 6 months, and my insurance pays for a new one.

The only parts I worry about are the parts that actually touch my face, which in my case are the cushion and the little piece that rests against my forehead. I remove both of them each day and soak them for about 10 minutes in warm, sudsy water -- the suds are a product of a squeeze of Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. Then I lay them on a towel to dry. I also throw these away every 2-3 weeks and get replacements.

I never clean the machine. I just remove the filter every couple of weeks and swap it out with a fresh one. At the 2-week mark, I soak the filter in the same warm sudsy water I use for the mask cushions, and let it air dry before using it again.

I'm sure other readers have other methods, perhaps better than mine. If you do, feel free to share.

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