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.

Feb 23, 2017
Black spots of mold & red slime
by: Sue

I'm having all of the above problems. I only use distilled water. I thought that was the best way not to have dirty water. I've called medical supplier with no return call. So I looked this up and found all of these other people having same problems. I'm afraid to use the darn thing!!!!!!

Feb 23, 2017
Black spots of mold & red slime
by: Sue

I'm having all of the above problems. I only use distilled water. I thought that was the best way not to have dirty water. I've called medical supplier with no return call. So I looked this up and found all of these other people having same problems. I'm afraid to use the darn thing!!!!!!

Feb 23, 2017
Skin eruptions
by: carol b

Was happy with results of Cpap, if not ease of using it for sev months when I started getting blistered skin on hands and feet! At first maybe once a month , with mornings of explosive sneezing ( continually) in between a couple of times. Now it is a matter of bimonthly! and very serious. Later I remembered seeing a pink color on the humidifier. I quit the machine week ago and got a biopsy and bought a So Clean2. Will that do the job on the old ( rather new ) equipment already seemly compromised? Is there a new Cpap version which eliminates need for Cleaner?? This has been a horrible experience with intense itching and pain. We do need a class action suit. My Sleep clinic has been rather useless.

Mar 01, 2017
CPAP mold
by: Anonymous

After using my CPAP for a couple of years, I
started having congestion issues this February.
I noticed dark mold in the reservoir and suspect it is also in the hose and mask. I am eager to join a class action suit.

Mar 29, 2017
Dirty machine.
by: Anonymous

I was hospitalized with a fungal infection and asthma caused by the cpap machine Despite me cleaning it. . I would join in on suit.

Apr 08, 2017
Bronchitis NEW

I have this CPAP machine after some use I had a heavy chest lung irritation then I received a brand new machine right out of the box with heat added to it first night used I got sick for 8 weeks bronchitis and hacking cough for a week and spent money on medicine and seeing the Doctor numerous times now I am almost cured but still have a little cough

Apr 08, 2017
Respitory Infection for 6+ Months NEW
by: Jamie W

A year ago I started using my Bi-Pap regularly. I would rinse the resivior daily, and used only distilled water to fill. I cleaned the mask, resivior, and tubing at least once a week. I changed my filter once every 2 weeks. I definitely benefit from using my machine, because I have complex sleep apnea (obstructive and central apnea).

7 months ago I started coughing a lot, and around that same time I noticed there was some pinkish residue in my humidifier water resivior while cleaning. Shortly after I ended up getting a double pink eye infection. Despite cleaning the parts twice a week, the pink residue did not come back, but my cough persisted and ended up turning into a chronic sinus infection which has continued for more than 7 months.

I have been on 6 rounds of antibiotics, had sinus and chest CT-Scans, and have been on mucinex, Claritin 24-D, nose sprays,, and cough medicine. I saw an ENT specialist and was recommended sinus surgery. I researched and found that sinus surgery does not always work. So I sought a second opinion.

While irritated with my symptoms and since nothing was really working, I wanted to experiment without using my Bi-PAP machine for a few days. After 3 days of not using the machine, it felt that my sinuses where improving. Then at my second opinion appointment, the doctor recommended to use a nasal rinse twice daily and prescribed me an antihistamine/steroid nasal spray. After a 8days of not using my machine, using nasal spray, and rinse, I have experienced great progress in my sinuses to return almost back to normal.

By not using my machine, I'm getting better, but I'm not feeling rested. I'm Leary of using my machine again because I don't want to have my sinuses take a turn for the worse again. Is there a way to safely clean the inside of a bi-pap? I have the Resmed AirCurve 10.

Apr 19, 2017
by: Anonymous

I've had my CPAP machine for four months. About a week after starting to use my machine I felt the following symptims:

Shortness of breath
Difficulty breathing
Chest pain.
Some heart beats are painful radiate to stomach
Pain on chest
Breathing in pain

Not exagerating

My heart doctor perfored all tests to see if my heart is acting up. They found my heart had nothing to do with the chest problem.

So i figured my cpap equioment was infected.

Solution was using new cpap equipment Daily! Mask, hose, filter, elbow. Now i sleep fine. Damn expensive life

May 31, 2017
Neuropathy of the Face from CPAP NEW
by: Matt

About 2 months ago my face, tongue, and lower face developed a wierd tingling, pins and needles, and numbness feeling. I visited a neurologist thinking it was a small stroke. then the condition started to spread up toward my eye and pain developed.The Neurologies ordered every test imagninable to diagnose the problem but to no avail. I visited a chiropractor who also has training in neurological problems and he said it may be a fungal infection from my CPAP machine. Does any one have any comments or ideas on how the fungus or how to help this neuropathy in my face. Thanks.

Jun 12, 2017
Please share! Motivated to join you in suing NEW
by: Li Gardiner

I found my way here from the CPAP Cough section. I just started using the CPAP machine 3 days ago. And after only 3 days of misery, and reading your stories, I am willing to sue ResMed, their suppliers, and everyone else responsible for this misery. I can't believe what some people have suffered for months, even years, while suspecting that their CPCP machine was the cause. Only to have the manufacturer tell them to talk to the hand!

I have developed symptoms of severe flu, and my existing conditions have worsened since starting the CPAP.

On the first morning, it started with a little sore throat and dry sinuses, and overall exhaustion. I was a zombie. Couldn't wake up. Kept dropping things. Well, I'm often a zombie in the morning because I have fibromyalgia, but I take medication, which has made a huge difference over the past year-and-a-half since diagnosis. That first day after CPAP, I just couldn't shake it, even with Adderall.

Woke with a little cough, sore throat; wheezy, lungs; a stiff neck and back; and a sharp headache. I put that down to adjusting to the CPAP machine. (Made by ResMed. It has a humidifier, hose heater, and regular filter.)

I was also light-headed, with achey joints. THAT sounds like the flu. But I never get summer colds. Even more disturbing, my crazy fibromyalgia symptoms came back strong — random, sharp pains in soft tissues, large areas of skin feeling sunburned, lower back on fire, feet like bags of glass. AND to top it off, my MS symptoms kicked in — numb hands and vertigo. (Yep, I have that, too). But by evening, I felt a bit better.

Note that both MS and fibro symptoms can get worse when your immune system is stressed. Even symptoms you have learned to live with can rapidly escalate and add to your misery when you're sick. This is usually a temporary reaction to your immune system going on red alert. Something to do with stress hormones and neurotransmitters. The symptoms generally improve when you get over your flu, bronchitis, whatever.

So, what got my system in this state? Like an idiot, I just assumed that I was coming down with a summer cold, and used the CPAP again last night.

Today, I had to call in sick, with a nagging cough, gurgley lungs, very sore throat, sinuses on fire, massive headache, plus all the other autoimmune symptoms described above.

You know what ELSE can trigger a relapse or exacerbation of existing conditions? Allergies, and/or exposure to toxins.

Thank you all for posting your complaints here, and more importantly, your CONCLUSIONS that some agent is at work, whether it's allergy-triggering compounds in the silicone, filters and equipment, or allergy-triggering mold and mildew. I can't tolerate any of those, and if I continue to stress my immune system, my other conditions will get worse.

My thanks to the people who suggested using vinegar, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. My thanks also to the person who suggested that we alert our doctors to this problem! It is obviously not going away. And should NOT be dismissed out of hand! Share these posts!

I do have moderate obstructive sleep apnea. And would love to know what equipment would NOT cause those symptoms. Some of you have had good experiences returning to your older equipment. Please share!

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