How Long Before I Change My CPAP Filter? (A Loaded Question)
October 18, 2019
Have you ever replaced an air filter on your furnace or air conditioner? Gross, right? Well, the filter on a CPAP machine does the same thing, and even if you keep your home ‘spic and span’ clean, you’re still breathing in particles.
This is why it’s important to change the filters on your CPAP regularly. But what do we mean by “regularly”?
Filter change frequency depends on your environment. If you live in a warm climate where you keep the windows open year-round, your home is going to fill up with dust and pollen way faster - and that stuff will mess with your sleep and the performance of your machine.
Same thing if you have pets or if you're a smoker.
Different CPAP machines have different size filters, so make sure you replace the filter with a compatible one to get all the right benefits.
We recommend changing them about every 6 months (but if you pull it out and it looks clean, you can probably use it a little longer). Remember, while it may look clean, pollen and other allergens aren’t easy to see and may have built up on your filter, making it less effective.
Here are some different kinds of filters to choose from, depending on your situation:
These thinly woven, generic and standard filters are not meant to be reused. These filters have a small electrostatic charge (kinda like a Swiffer) that attracts particles in the air and keeps them out of your CPAP machine. Dispose and replace immediately if the filter gets wet. Like regular disposable filters, replace immediately at the first sign of discolouration (when it starts getting yellow, brown or just dirty-looking). Toss these ones about every 6 months or sooner, as required.
Reusable filters (also known as pollen filters) are usually made of foam and are durable and washable. Stick them in some warm, soapy water and swish around for a while. Then, rinse thoroughly (when you squeeze it out, the water shouldn’t have any bubbles in it). Reusable/pollen filters should be washed every few weeks and laid out to dry *completely* before you put it back into the machine. REMEMBER: it’s important they are completely dry or you could risk growing mould in your CPAP. Pollen filters are great to filter out large particles: stuff like hair, pet dander, dust bunnies, food (yes, some people eat in bed) and other dirt that might be floating around in the air.
If you are especially sensitive to dust and allergens, these filters will save your day! Hypoallergenic filters are made with a combination of materials: one side filters out the larger matter and the other side blocks fine (annoying) particles. Hypoallergenic filters are particularly suitable if you suffer from hay fever or other airborne seasonal allergens. These filters are disposable and need to be changed at least every 6 months - maybe sooner depending on the time of year (spring through summer, especially).
Some devices such as the DreamStation (by Respironics) come with 2 filters - a disposable one and a reusable one. Both can be stacked (used at the same time), just remember to dispose of one and wash the other.
Whichever type of filter you decide to use is entirely up to you. The important thing is to make sure you use the right filter for your model of CPAP machine and to change the filter regularly.
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