I became aware of CPAP sanitizers several years ago when I was writing a blog article for a client on the subject of CPAP cleaning and maintenance.
In fact, I had to search the web to discover if there was even such a thing as an automated CPAP cleaner, and that is where I found the SoClean.
A couple of years later, I became a PAP therapy user myself, so I looked into using a SoClean and received one of these for my birthday (not the most romantic birthday gift ever, but at my age, it’s definitely the thought that counts).
This is what I’ve experienced personally as a PAP therapy and SoClean user.
How clean is your CPAP machine?
Chances are good that many PAP machine users are vigilant about their cleaning habits. Typically, masks (especially the nose pieces) are cleaned daily; the tubing and water chamber are cleaned out once weekly. Using gentle soap and water and air drying works for most people. For convenience, there are CPAP wipes, as well.
But what about people who travel a lot? Or people who are less vigilant?
As a sleep tech, I can share all kinds of horror stories about how unclean their patients’ PAP machines are when they are asked to bring them in.
The most recent story I heard was from a tech who examined their patient’s machine to discover a mushroom growing in the water chamber.
So how clean is your CPAP machine?
I’m not suggesting that all PAP users need a full-on sanitizing device like SoClean… not if they are already doing their due diligence with a cleaning and maintenance schedule. But for people who are busy, forgetful, who travel a lot, or who are just not all that disciplined about taking care of their equipment, a SoClean machine might be a solution.
Tip: Sanitizing is not the same as cleaning
This is the frequent argument in social media and forum sites when people ask about purchasing a sanitizing device for the PAP equipment.
Cleaning is what you do when you wipe down your gear with soap and water, rinse and let it air dry.
However, cleaning is not sanitizing. Sanitizing occurs when microorganisms are destroyed. Cleaning doesn’t always do this.
Is sanitizing necessary to maintain one’s CPAP? Probably not for most people. If you live in a fairly clean environment already (no pets, no smoking, for instance) and you do your dailies and your weeklies, AND you’re an otherwise healthy person, you’ll probably not find yourself in the market for a sanitizing system.
But if your living quarters are compromised by pets or airborne toxins, or you have a compromised immune system, you might want to think about buying a SoClean.
What is SoClean?
The SoClean machine is the world’s first automated CPAP cleaner and sanitizer on the market. It kills 99.9% of CPAP germs and bacteria within your entire PAP therapy setup without requiring disassembling, water or chemicals.
The SoClean connects very simply with all varieties of PAP therapy equipment (including CPAP, AutoPAP, Bi-PAP, BPAP, and VPAP).
How does it work? SoClean CPAP sanitizer uses activated oxygen to eliminate germs and bacteria in your equipment. It’s the same sanitization process used in:
- Water Purification
- Produce Handling
- Hotel Housekeeping
- Hospital Sanitizing
It’s ridiculously simple to use. You place your mask inside the SoClean box with the tubing still attached. You close the box, turn it on, and the machine sanitizes your mask, nosepiece, tubing, and even the contents of your humidifying chamber (if attached, and that can include the actual water in it) in about 10 minutes.
Watch a YouTube demo here to learn more.
Why use SoClean?
If you’re forgetful or less disciplined about daily and weekly cleanup of your PAP equipment, you may be interested in purchasing a unit.
But be smart about it: the SoClean doesn’t do the cleaning of your equipment, it only sanitizes it. For me, a quick wipe down with CPAP wipes on a daily basis, before sticking my mask and tubing into the SoClean box, is a daily ritual I rarely miss.
I also still wash my mask headgear in warm soapy water and do a soap-water flush of my tubing on Sundays, too. Cleaning is on me; but SoClean does the sanitizing part far better than I ever could.
So you might be wondering… If I’m so good about regularly cleaning, why do I still use the SoClean?
SoClean provides some with peace of mind
I have multiple sclerosis. Treatment for MS leads to a thoroughly compromised immune system (on par with someone who has AIDS).
Those flu germs others struggle for a week to overcome will put me in the hospital and my risk for dying from influenza is much higher. This goes for any and all other harmful bacteria and germs that most people with healthy immune systems live with daily without a thought.
Older people using PAP therapy are likely battling other health conditions besides sleep apnea. A SoClean would be a great item to help them keep their equipment as clean and healthy as possible.
The same can be said for anyone with fragile health issues, including the chronically ill or very young children who may be using PAP therapy because of neuromuscular or other developmental concerns.
Are there downsides to using SoClean?
If you’re wondering, insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a SoClean machine.
Also, the machine generates an ozone odor in the room where it is being used. I keep mine on my nightstand; the smell will remind you of the way the air smells after a big thunderstorm. There’s a term for it: petrichor. (As a Pacific Northwest native, I know a thing or two about the smell of rain!) It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it is noticeable.
There is a 10-minute period in which the SoClean sanitizes your equipment, followed by a 2-hour period in which the machine “gases off” the extra activated oxygen. That is what you are smelling, and this is also why you need to allow at least 2 hours and 10 minutes between sanitizing time and bedtime; you’ll definitely notice the smell otherwise. But that’s not a big deal. Simply clean your gear first thing in the morning and you’re good to go that night.
The machine also generous a bit of noise. It sounds like a motorcycle or small prop airplane from afar. If you are an early riser, you can place your equipment in the SoClean and preset a timer that sanitizes it at a time later in the morning after everyone is out of bed.
Myths about using activated oxygen sanitization
Some people do not understand how activated oxygen sanitization works and will insist that it is dangerous. If that were true, according to them, I’d be dead by now. Not only am I not dead, but I’m actually feeling better than ever, a year after using my SoClean.
Some people also believe that using the SoClean damages your CPAP equipment. I’ve had my machine for a year now, and everything works just fine. Using SoClean does not ruin the nosepiece in the mask, nor does it turn it an off-putting color.
I suspect that people who are experiencing this while using the SoClean daily are NOT actually hand-cleaning their equipment first and, even more likely, not replacing their CPAP masks and nosepieces on the schedule given to them by their sleep physicians.
All CPAP nosepieces will discolor if used for longer than a year. I’ve seen patient masks which aren’t cleaned or replenished on a regular schedule and that’s exactly what they look like. That’s not a SoClean problem, that’s a “user error.”
It’s not inexpensive, priced a little over $300 (though you can often find it bundled with some free CPAP wipes and filters, which is a plus).
You will want to buy the version that’s matched to your CPAP machine so that it can clean your humidifier as well (there’s a special lid for the humidifier that you can quickly swap out with your current humidifier).
Other items to buy include:
- filters that provide the activated oxygen sanitization process for your equipment. You’ll need to do these twice a year at around $30 a kit. I save up to 15% off the top by using Amazon Subscribe & Save and getting free shipping.
- a spare humidifier chamber for your PAP machine to keep in your travel bag. This is optional but it will ensure you have a complete PAP setup while traveling. I have twice forgotten to swap out the SoClean lid for the original humidifier lid while on the road and had to sleep without my machine because of air leakage caused by the missing gasket I left at home (doh!). For around $20, that spare humidification chamber tucked into my travel bag means I never forget this important part of my machine.
- a travel SoClean (also optional) for those who are literally on the road week after week. I will forego using my SoClean when I travel because it’s impractical to haul it with me on trips, but there are smaller travel units for people (i.e., pilots or firefighters) who literally have two home bases where they sleep on a regular basis.
Are CPAP sanitizers really necessary?
Not for healthy people who sleep in clean environments and who can make it a habit to both hand-clean and sanitize their equipment without it.
But for the rest of us—who might live in spaces where pets and smoking are a constant, or who have compromised immune systems—using this (or any) PAP sanitizing system is going to result in a more safe and satisfying CPAP user experience.
To learn more about this sleep product, visit the SoClean website.
Check out the SoClean Facebook page.