Part four of my series on CPAP Problems and Solutions will be focusing on CPAP filters and how they affect your therapy and your health. You can read parts one, two, and three to learn more about the topics we have been focusing on, and leave us a comment if you have a particular issue you want us to talk about!
At RespShop, we always advise our customers to take care of their CPAP filters. By properly maintaining filters – and changing them once they’ve become old or dirty – patients can get the most out of their therapy while practicing good hygiene. Conversely, if filters aren’t changed often enough, they will become saturated and may no longer be able to dependably ward off bacteria and debris. Let’s take a longer look at how to properly use and treat your CPAP filters.
There are two types of CPAP filters: washable filters and disposable filters. Washable filters are, as the name implies, washable and reusable. Often made of a foam-like substance, these filters should be cleaned regularly, which will allow you to clean most of the debris and bacteria that seeps into your filter over time. If you take care of your reusable filter and wash it once or twice every week, there’s no reason they can’t last 6-12 months.
When you do wash your filters, there are a couple of ways to clean them. Some patients prefer to wash their filters in the dishwasher or a washing machine. For most disposable filters, this will work just fine: most filters that top manufacturers make are intended for dishwasher or washing machine use.
At RespShop, however, we recommend that you wash all of your supplies by hand, filters included. We always advise washing equipment with warm water, a soft cloth, and a non-abrasive soap. Dishwashers and washing machines can sometimes wash too aggressively, which may tear the filter or wear it down faster than it normally would.
Disposable filters should never be washed. They are made of fabric, and if the fabric gets wet, the filter will be ruined. The advantage to the disposable filter is the lack of maintenance: you won’t ever have to spend time washing a disposable filter, a feature many patients enjoy. The only negative to disposable filters is that they need to be replaced much more often. While reusable filters can last for up to a year with proper maintenance, disposable filters should be replaced every 3-6 weeks or at the first sign of discoloration.
For any filter, you’ll want to look for signs that it needs to be replaced. Any time your filter has obvious discoloration or substances that can’t be washed off, you probably need a new filter, regardless of how long you’ve been using your current one. Regularly changing them is important, as over time they become saturated with unwashable bacteria and lose their ability to block debris and dust from entering into your CPAP. Once your filter fails, dust and debris may flow into your tube and mask, which may disturb you or wake you up.
With regular maintenance, filters can help you get the most out of your therapy. Be sure to regularly replace your filters for best results.