Breathing air from CPAP and humidifier that contains mold

by Yolanda
(United States)

This past weekend when I was going to wash the Reservior container of my humidifier for my CPAP (it's heated type). I found mold growing on the underside of the lid.

I generally wash the container/hoses/nose pillow every week about 1x to 2x with Palmolive antibacterial dish soap. I only use distilled water to fill the reservior.

My concern is that I used the CPAP this way for anywhere from 2 to 3 days with the mold.

I'm concerned about infection,and Lung Specialist can't see me until 6/28/12. Do you have info on tests that I should actively seek or know of symtoms I should watch for? Thank You


Breathing the humidified air with mold can cause health problems, such as bronchial infections (bronchitis), or allergic responses, such as:

  • hay fever,

  • asthma,

  • irritation of the eyes, nose throat or lungs

These symptoms may appear if you are sensible to mold exposure:

  • eye irritation,

  • difficulty breathing,

  • throat irritation,

  • coughing,

  • headache

So if you don't have these symptoms, I don't think you have to worry about mold exposure. But please clean the humidifier before using the CPAP again. I'll give you some tips to clean your equipment bellow.

If you are a very sensible person, only a small quantify of mold can make you sick. However, we all breathe polluted air all day and most of the time we don't get sick.

So it depends on the person if you can be affected from a small quantity of mold.

For the future, is important to know that allergic problems can appear from dead and from livind mold spores. So usually the surface with mold has to be cleaned with bleach or other disinfectant.

However, it's not healthy to use bleach in the CPAP humidifier. You have to use something else. Palmolive is not strong enough for mold. Use vinegar, because it kills most mold, bacteria and germs and so far it seems to be working for all CPAP users with mold issues.

The most efficient whay to clean your humidifier tank and mask cushion is to clean them once a week:

  • first with Johnson's Baby Shampoo

  • then soak everything, including your CPAP hose, in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water, for 30 minutes

  • optional, to remove the smell of vinegar, you may want to use Johnson's shampoo again

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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Oct 27, 2015
CPAP and Chest Heaviness
by: Anonymous

I've had my CPAP machine for six months. About a month after starting to use my machine I felt a heaviness in the upper part of my chest.

It has progressed to feeling like a 20 pound kid on my chest - if I try to do chores, it gets worse - like a 40 pound kid is sitting on my upper chest (right under my chin).

If I try to do anything physical, I feel pressure in my neck and head.

I have a heart doctor and have had all tests to see if my heart is acting up. They found my heart had nothing to do with the chest problem, even though my blood pressure is erratic.

I would appreciate any information that might help me clear up my chest.

Oct 27, 2015
Regarding your chest heaviness
by: Remy

I have found two articles that may be helpful. If they don't give you enough information, please let me know with another comment, with more details, like a diagnosis from your doctor.

Here are the links to the articles:

Chest pain with CPAP


CPAP chest or lung pain

I really hope it's helpful.

Dec 09, 2015
Extreme sinus infection
by: Anonymous

Ever since I started the cpap treatment in august 2015, I've been averaging 1 to 2 colds a month. It has been a terrible experience but I have been getting great sleep. I clean my machine regularly and rinse the humidifier daily with soap and vinegar. I don't know what to do now...I have to tell my dr.

Mar 13, 2016
CPAP issues
by: Anonymous

I'm having flulike symptoms after using the cpap machine. I ache like the flu and have a heaviness in my chest at times along with coughing.
I clean hosing daily and filters and nasal pieces.
I'm afraid of breathing mold and feel the cpap is the cause of this.
What advice can you give me?

Aug 13, 2016
Feeling sick too often
by: E

I have been experiencing infections in the nose and head colds with aching joints since using CPAP. Have noticed some black mold in the humidifier tank. I use only distilled water. What is happening?

Aug 18, 2016
Mold in tubing
by: Anonymous

I was using an oxygen concentrator for minor sleep apnea which developed mold in the tubing due to not being used for a few weeks. It gave me such aweful bronchitis for almost 4 weeks and I am afraid it may have long-term consequences. A word to the wise.

Sep 03, 2016
Mold in the motor housing
by: Anthony

I've been having nose bleed watery eye not eyes but one side or the other, been using muperosin 2 percent for of and on a year now I clean sanitize , use good maintence on my machine.

Recently I took the machine housing apart,unplugged circuit board and cleaned the fan an surrounding areas, everything I cleaned had a black color to it ,so I'm thinking if breathing this could be part of my problem ?

Sep 09, 2016
Allergic reaction to possible mold interior of motor - fan housing
by: Anonymous

After 7 months of wonderful appreciative use of my cpap machine, I started to get runny nose, sneezing and stuffy nasal passages which got worse despite daily and thorough cleaning of EVERYTHING.

Purchased and replaced EVERYTHING, but my allergic got so bad I consulted the doctor who suggested allergy tests.
Prior to taking the allergy tests, I read articles about similar allergic reactions so I decided to clean the internals of the machine by soaking the sponge filter with alcohol. The next day my symptoms reduced and within 2 days my allergic symptoms were gone.

Now, included with my regular cleaning regimen of my cpap gear, I also clean the internals with alcohol.
Problem is, that it takes 2 to 3 hours to clear out the alcohol smell and sometimes there is still residual alcohol smell.

I have talked to my doctor, insurance and,medical supply provider and have encountered some unreasonable responses and so far, no luck.

Maybe a class-action suit is in order or something of that sort.
Meanwhile, I have had to stop using my cpap machine because the alcohol vapor cleaning doesn't seem to be as effective and my allergic reactions return more frequent.

The tech has tech'd it but there isn't anything wrong with its's the internals that need to be cleaned.

Oct 25, 2016
Black mold in CPAP motor
by: Jen

I have a 6 month old AirSense 10 ResAMed machine that has black mold if you look down the air hole that gives air to humidifier.

My supply company said there is nothing they can do and manufacturer, ResMed doesn't clean them. So I haven't been able to use my CPAP for almost a week, this is ridiculous! It has a heated humidifier & heated hose which goes into cool down before I can move it around, which is prime warm environment for the mold to grow!

Now why is it so hard for someone to help and tell me how to stop it when I am cleaning what I am supposed to be daily, but mold is growing thick inside the machine....

I noticed tiny black specks in humidifier before I looked down air hole to find tons of mold, respiratory issues, headache, mold exposure symptoms. 6 years of CPAP, this is the first machine to develop mold, don't get one. They don't want to do anything to fix it.

Dec 10, 2016
CPAP mold
by: Ray

My CPAP reservoir developed a red mold despite my drying everyday and cleaning with baby shampoo weekly. I am now using a blow dryer daily to ensure that it is good and dry. We'll see if it works.

Jan 01, 2017
pink slime - bacteria, not mold
by: Anonymous

On CPAP for 6 months - husband has had stuffy sinuses for at least three months. I clean his CPAP mask, hose, reservoir at least every week - usually more. Detergent, vinegar, clean toothbrush.

Today noticed a slight pink tinge to parts of the reservoir - irregular shaped sections. Used a Q-tip and came up pink. It's bacteria. He uses distilled water. Filled the reservoir with hydrogen peroxide - seemed to do the trick - still had to continue a bit with a Q-tip.

Concerned about cleaning the hose. Will contact the distributor tomorrow.

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