How Do CPAP Cleaning Machines Work?

Keeping your CPAP equipment clean is important to protect your health, since the mask, tubing, and headgear can all harbor pathogens. These pathogens include bacteria, viruses, and mold, and all of these are capable of causing respiratory problems if you inhale them.

Washing your CPAP equipment with soap and water is a very effective way to destroy pathogens. However, some people find this to be a hassle that they don't want to go through. Waiting for all of your equipment to dry before you use it is also an annoyance. Thankfully, CPAP cleaning machines are available to simplify the process.

There are two types of cleaning machines on the market: ozone and UV-C. How do they work to keep your CPAP equipment free of pathogens? Read on to find out.


An ozone CPAP cleaning machine draws in some of the surrounding air and then applies a strong electric charge to it. This causes some of the oxygen molecules in the air to separate, forming elemental oxygen atoms. These oxygen atoms quickly recombine to form ozone gas, which is then sent into the cleaning chamber to disinfect your CPAP equipment.

Ozone destroys pathogens because it's a very powerful oxidant. You've likely heard of the health benefits of including antioxidants in your diet. That's because oxidants are highly damaging to your cells. The purpose of eating more antioxidants is to prevent the cells in your own body from becoming damaged.

Bacteria don't have much in the way of natural defenses against oxidants, which means that ozone can rapidly destroy them by breaking apart their cell walls. The same applies to other pathogens like viruses and mold. For this reason, ozone is commonly used by municipal wastewater treatment facilities to remove pathogens from the water you drink — it's very effective at rapidly destroying them.


UV-C CPAP cleaning machines use ultraviolet light to destroy pathogens. When you place your CPAP equipment in the machine and turn it on, a specially designed light shines on it from a short distance, bathing it in ultraviolet waves in the UV-C spectrum.

Ultraviolet light in general is damaging to organic matter, and UV-C is especially potent. In a similar way that pathogens don't have much resistance to ozone, they don't have much resistance to ultraviolet light either. UV-C light will rapidly degrade DNA inside the pathogens.

When the pathogens try to reproduce, they won't be able to produce a viable microorganism due to all of the damage that their DNA has sustained. Pathogens rely on being able to reproduce quickly in order to live on surfaces, and they also rely on it to be able to infect people. Once their ability to reproduce is destroyed, they're essentially harmless.

In fact, UV-C light is commonly used in hospitals to disinfect equipment that can't stand up to the high temperature and pressure of an autoclave machine. That makes UV-C CPAP cleaning machines well-suited for the task of keeping your equipment clean.

Which Is the Best Choice for You?

As you can see, both methods of cleaning your CPAP equipment are very effective, and they're commonly used in other industries. Their prices are similar as well.

The main difference between them is that you can't use your CPAP equipment for two hours after you've cleaned it with an ozone machine — the ozone left on the surface of your equipment needs to dissipate first, since it can cause irritation to your respiratory system.

As long as you're fine with waiting before you can use your equipment, either CPAP cleaning machine is an excellent choice that will allow you to avoid the routine of washing your CPAP supplies with soap and water.