CPAP cleaners - Ozone vs UV

I’ve got a CPAP machine and I love it! But I am terrible at cleaning it. And I know I’m not going to get better at cleaning it, so I want to buy a cleaning machine.

There are two: The SoClean 2 which uses ozone to clean the whole machine, or the Luminwhich uses UV light, and at the moment doesn’t purport to clean the CPAP hose (which is probably the dirtiest part of the setup).

Reviews of both are all over the place. People saying neither works to clean at all (those people bought petri dishes!) Some saying that ozone will kill you, mess up your skin, cause you and your pets to have breathing problems. The UV light will ruin the machine’s fittings, so will the ozone. The UV light doesn’t reach enough nooks and crannies to make it useful.

Anyone use either of these devices? Have you looked in to both? Do you know anything about ozone vs. uv?

My wife has an ozone cleaner for her CPAP. It might be the SoClean2 model you are looking at, not sure off the top of my head. I wish she had at least talked to me about it before getting it because I’m not convinced it’s really all that useful.

Ozone doesn’t clean anything. It’s not a cleaner. If there is some kind of crap on your mask, at the end of the cleaning cycle there is still going to be some kind of crap on your mask. The ozone isn’t going to remove anything.

Ozone might disinfect your mask. Emphasis on “might” because I have some doubts about how effective it is for this type of cleaning unit. The principle is sound enough. Ozone does kill bacteria and viruses. Ozone has been used in wastewater treatment for years.

The reason I am skeptical is because I don’t know how much ozone this machine actually produces, and whether or not it creates a high enough ozone concentration inside the machine, and if it maintains that concentration long enough to be effective.

Whether or not the machine is producing enough ozone to be effective, one thing I can say is that the machine does not leak enough ozone into its surroundings for the ozone to be an issue. According to the folks that make these types of machines, ozone decays fairly quickly back into oxygen, so by the time the cleaning cycle is done there isn’t much ozone in the machine to worry about anyway. Ozone has a fairly distinctive smell, and I haven’t smelled it at all anywhere near the machine, which seems to confirm their claim that the machine leaks very little ozone into its surroundings.

The alarmist warnings on the internet are correct that high enough concentrations of ozone do cause health issues, particular with breathing. However, this machine just doesn’t seem to release enough ozone into its surroundings for it to be worth worrying about.

I have no experience at all with the UV machine. I do know that UV has a tendency to degrade most types of plastics. The UV in sunlight is what causes things to fade if left outdoors, and in addition to fading, it can make plastic brittle, leading to cracking. Some plastics have UV stabilizers added to them, which basically work by preferentially absorbing the UV and releasing it as heat (kinda the same way that sunscreen works on our skin). I very much doubt that the plastics used in a CPAP machine have UV stabilizers in them since CPAP machines are rarely used outdoors in sunlight.

The theory for UV is also sound, as UV light does kill bacteria and viruses. I have no idea how much UV light the machine puts out. I suspect that if it puts out enough UV light to be effective at killing bacteria and viruses, it also has enough energy to degrade any non-UV stabiliized plastics put inside the machine.

I have a CPAP, too, and looked into the SoClean, which as you say, uses ozone. Ozone is a very strong oxidizing agent (which is how it works to disinfect), but also can degrade the materials (especially the plastics and silicone) used in a CPAP machine. There are also health concerns with users inhaling small amounts of residual ozone after cleaning.

All of this is mentioned in an article that talks with the manufacturer of the Lumin.

The Lumin uses UV light, which also degrades plastics. In the article, the manufacturer purports that: “Generally, [polymer] degradation starts to occur after 200 hours of exposure. By comparison, one year of daily use with the Lumin is equivalent to 30 hours of UVC exposure.”

I’m not sure I buy that argument. I think polymer degradation would follow a more linear relationship.

The bottom line is that I don’t think that ozone or UV are a great idea to use with an expensive machine with a lot of plastic and silicone parts.

Instead, I basically follow the manufacturer’s instructions and clean the mask every day or every other day. I clean everything else weekly by soaking in a diluted vinegar solution, followed by a soak and hand washing using dish soap. Then I put everything out to air dry. I’ve been doing this for a year now.

There is some good advice written by an M.D. here on cleaning your CPAP.The article notes that: “Though heavily advertised, it’s not necessary to use a CPAP cleaner or SoClean sanitizer device to keep your CPAP equipment clean.”

It does recommend that you do the basic cleaning mentioned previously. The article seems to support what I’ve been doing, where it states: “For optimal hygiene, it’s recommended that the equipment be cleaned at least on a weekly basis.”

P.S. Even though I only clean the humidifier chamber weekly, I do empty it out, wipe it dry, and allow it to air dry on a daily basis.

In my experience, it’s even worse - it can be exponential. We utilize very common test apparati to quantify exterior coatings and plastics ability to survive exposure to sunlight. The most common bulbs are UV-A (340 nm) as the majority of UV light we are exposed to are UV-A. The next is UV-B (313 nm) which are more aggressive and it’s a good thing our atmosphere absorbs the majority of UV-B as it can rip apart coatings quickly…and cause a nasty sunburn…As far as UV-C, fortunately for mankind, very little if any reaches the ground - it is incredibly destructive.

Polymer degradation starts immediately, the rate maybe slow and the degradation not noticeable for a while, but it’s not like a timer goes off and THEN the plastic starts to degrade, nope, it’s happening all along…and 30 hours of UV-C can be pretty damn devastating depending upon the composition of the plastic…

We make high-temperature epoxy systems for various OEM applications and we measure polymer degradation in those by thermal analysis…we like to say that epoxies generally exhibit degradation at around 290oC, but, depending upon the chemical composition, it could be sooner, and yeah, there’s measurable breakdown long before that…

I’ve had a CPAP for the last four years, I love it as it allows me to sleep, my wife doesn’t have to poke me in the side 10 times a night to stop my snoring, and after reading and talking to my doctor, a good cleaning with an antibacterial soap and warm water three times a week works just fine IMHO…

I’ve considered both of the cleaning systems that you mentioned and as you say, the results are mixed to say the least. FWIW, I never clean my mask or hose. I don’t use the humidifier. If I’m suffering any ill effects from the lack of cleaning, I can’t tell it. I use a nasal pillow and change it out every few months.

I have a SoClean, given to me as a gift (from a relative). I don’t think it does all that much for cleaning, but it does make the mask/hose smell good. IIRC the instructions actually say to wash the mask using a liquid soap solution (supplied) before putting it into the machine.

FWIW: 6 year veteran of the nose-hose brigade here, and I just carry my hose/mask into the shower every morning and clean it with plain soap. They’re allowed to air dry hanging from a towel rack during the day. My humidifier tank is disassembled* and dries beside the sink. I toss the mask into the SoClean about once a week because I like the small afterwards.

*this is very simple, release one catch & the entire thing splits in half for easy drying.

Thanks all for the info. I can’t believe the SoClean tells you to wash with soap!

I have been trying to clean mine once a week with soap and then a vinegar water bath, but I just don’t always get to it. That’s why I’m drawn to these machines.

I’ve been using CPAP for a year now, and have managed to clean the things probably 40 of the last 52 weeks. I’ve also gotten re-supply of filters, masks, headgear and hoses. And since I had to switch machines (new insurance) I did get a new reservoir.

I’ve yet to have a problem with allergies or irritation from the setup.

So, I guess…I won’t get a sanitizing machine. It seems that the risks of ruining the equipment outweigh the benefits of what these machines are able to accomplish.

I’d still like to hear from anyone else who uses the sanitizing machines or has looked into them!

Hose head for 10+ years now. I do not have any experience with the UV or ozone cleaning systems. To be honest, I don’t follow the prescribed cleaning schedule. I do use distilled water, most of the time, in the reservoir and I usually just add more each night before going to bed to get it back to the fill line. I don’t wash/clean daily, or even weekly. I only take the reservoir apart and clean it if I’ve been out of distilled and have had to use tap. Tap water definitely seems to get nasty very quickly. When I do clean-clean, I just fill a large pot full of water and white vinegar and let it soak for awhile then air dry. I’m lucky if this happens once a month. If I’ve been using distilled water, it is very less than that.

That said, I do change nasal pillows and filters religiously.