Living On O2 for Life
So you use a bipap and you want to clean your bipap or you just want to see how someone else cleans their mask. You’re in luck! I finally took some pictures for you. First, let me introduce you to my bipap mask.
Here you can see my bipap mask with the head gear attached at the top by slot openings and at the base of the mask by little pegs-n-grooves (my name for this closure type!).
Cleaning the Bipap Mask: I first take apart the connected tubes and head gear. I inspect each part for wear and tear which is very important. You don’t want to end up having the mask break in the middle of the night. Trust me.. this has happened to me several times. Some of the weakest parts on a Bipap mask, that I’ve noticed over the years, are the top forehead bridge section – where it’s adjustable and the places where you connect the bottom portion of the mask to the head gear.
Here is a swivel tube that I connect to the end of the Bipap tubes. It allows the mask and the big hose, coming off the Bipap machine, to swivel. Allowing more freedom to move your head without having to adjust the hose at night.
This is the tube used as the oxygen port for my Bipap mask. The arm on it is where I attach my oxygen tubing and it also swivels around for convenience of movement.
I clean all these pieces of my Bipap in mild liquid dishwashing soap. I don’t use antibacterial soap. I fear that the chemicals used in these soaps could harden the silicone in the mask making it weaker and fall apart. Remember, most insurance will pay for replacement masks & tubing every SIX months. but you have to call to request them from the DME company that services your Bipap.
When I wash my Bipap mask, I use just my hands in warm sudsy water in a small basin (NOT MY SINK!). I gently bend down the inner soft blue silicon cushion and rub my finger tip down the inside between the thin outer membrane of the mask and the gel cushion. Don’t push or use fingernails to scratch anything. You don’t want to tear any part of the silicone gel cushion. When I’m done cleaning the mask and tubes, I rinse each piece in cold water. Make sure all soap is rinsed off. Use a paper towel to dry off each part. The mask is the hardest to dry. I have to bend the blue gel cushion down gently and slide the paper towel in the space to absorb most of the moisture. You won’t be able to get it all. Today, I used my hair dryer on COLD air and on the LOWEST setting to dry the inside of the mask. Make sure, if you try this, that the air from the hair dryer remains cold. You can also let it air dry. For me, I tend to need my mask for naps. So, air drying is ok but it is time consuming. Thus, the reason for the hair dryer. It’s really important to get the Bipap mask dry. You don’t want to have mold or mildew growing somewhere where you breathe from.
To disinfect the bipap mask: Soak the mask in a solution of one part white distilled vinegar to four parts water for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse in cold water and then dry with paper towel and then air dry. I do this every so often.
I know this is bad of me to admit this but I don’t clean my mask as often as the guidelines suggest (once daily). I’m not neurotic about cleaning my mask. If I see that it not clean, then I wash it. My best advice is to keep your mask and Bipap machine clean and in good working order. Keep everything dust-free and off the floor. Check your filters often so you know when to replace the paper filter and wash the sponge filter. Keep yourself healthy!