One of the accessory items that all CPAP patients need to take care of is their filter. Machine filters
are vital for ensuring hygienic sleep apnea therapy and patients need to ensure that their filters are clean and working at all times.
Unfortunately, filters don’t just take care of themselves. They need to be monitored, maintained, and in some cases cleaned. Patients thus have many questions about CPAP filters: what kind of filter should I use? How often do I need to replace my filters? Do I always have to wash my filter? We’ll tackle each of these questions — and more — below.
Different Filter Types
There are two different types of filter that are compatible with your CPAP machine. First, there’s the disposable filter. Disposable filters are, as the name implies, filters that you use and dispose of. These filters will decompose in water and should never be washed. Some patients enjoy using them, as they require less maintenance than washable filters.
Washable filters, on the other hand, require a bit more maintenance. They have a longer lifespan than disposable filters but they must be washed regularly. It’s important to wash a reusable filter properly too: they should be hand washed with warm water, a non-abrasive soap, and either your hand or a soft cloth. If you try to wash them in a dishwasher or washing machine, you run the risk of damaging your filter: they simply aren’t durable enough to withstand that kind of washing regularly.
So, which is better? It largely depends on your needs. You’ll need to replace your disposable filter more often, which will cost more money. Washable filters will require more maintenance, but will last much longer. Both work equally well, so it really just depends whether you prefer to change your filters more often or spend a little extra time washing reusable filters.
Naturally, CPAP patients want to know how often they should change their filters for optimal performance. The answer, unsatisfying as it may seem, is ‘it depends.’
Disposable filters will need to be replaced much more often than washable filters. As soon as a disposable filter shows signs of discoloration or dust saturation, you should replace it. Normally this happens every few weeks, but the exact amount of time is determined by environmental factors around you. If you keep your bedroom squeaky clean at all times, you might be able to use your filter for a month or more. On the other hand, if your room has dust or pet dander, or if you smoke or use a fireplace, you may need to change your filter within ten days or so.
The same is roughly true for reusable filters, although these will have a longer life all else being equal. Disposable filters should be washed at the first sign of discoloration and to be safe, it isn’t a bad idea to wash them every day or every few days. You’ll be able to use these filters for several weeks, if not months, and will only need to change it when you cannot remove the discoloration during cleaning.
Of course, if you notice that debris is ending up in your mask, that’s a sure sign that you need to change your filter immediately, regardless of how recently you changed it.
For the S9 machine, ResMed made a hypoallergenic filter
, which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘thick and double sided filter.’ These filters are more durable and will last longer than standard filters. They can and should be washed regularly, but they are less flimsy than other filters and provide additional protection from debris.
As always, if you have any questions about filters or any other CPAP supplies, we encourage you to reach out to us. We’re available on social media, over email at [email protected] and over the phone at 866-936-3754. We look forward to hearing from you!