Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease, typically caused by smoking, infections, and genetics. That’s why many older adults need home oxygen therapy to help their breathing. This article shares tips on how to properly clean and maintain an oxygen concentrator, the key component in oxygen therapy.
Many people with chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, aka COPD) may be candidates for supplemental oxygen therapy. A prescription for home oxygen has many benefits, like better mood, sleep, quality of life, and prolonged survival.
The centerpiece of home oxygen therapy is the stationary oxygen concentrator. Oxygen concentrators draw in air, compress it, and isolate oxygen for delivery through a nasal cannula, the tube placed over the nostrils. An oxygen concentrator is able to producing a never-ending supply of purified oxygen (90–95%) to meet the needs of individuals with chronic lung disease.
Even though most oxygen concentrators are sturdy, they still need to be cared for correctly. Regular cleaning and maintenance will go a long way to getting the best performance and prolonging its life. After all, an oxygen concentrator is an expensive investment in medical equipment.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to clean an oxygen concentrator and added tips to keep the oxygen flow healthy.
Clean the outside of the oxygen concentrator
- Begin by unplugging the oxygen concentrator from its power source
- Dip a soft cloth in a solution of mild dishwashing soap and warm water
- Squeeze cloth until damp and wipe down the concentrator
- Rinse cloth clean and remove any excess soap on concentrator
- Let concentrator air-dry or dry with a lint-free cloth
Clean the particle filter
- Begin by removing the filter per manufacturer’s instructions
- Fill a tub or sink with warm water and a mild dishwashing soap
- Dip the filter into the solution in the tub or sink
- Use a wet cloth to remove excess dirt and dust
- Rinse the filter to remove any excess soap
- Let the filter air-dry or place on thick towel to absorb excess water
Clean the nasal cannula
- Soak cannula in a solution of mild dishwashing soap and warm water
- Rinse cannula with a solution of water and white vinegar (10 to 1)
- Rinse cannula thoroughly and hang to air-dry
- Avoid using an oxygen concentrator in a dusty environment
- Use a voltage stabilizer to offset voltage fluctuation
- Rest the concentrator for 20 – 30 minutes after continuous usage for 7 – 8 hours
- Do not submerge the concentrator in water
- Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the particle filter at least once a month
- Most experts recommend cleaning the outside of the concentrator and external filters (if applicable) weekly
- Use alcohol to wipe down the tubing connected to the nasal cannula daily
- Replace nasal cannulas and tubing monthly if using oxygen continuously or every 2 months if using oxygen intermittently
- Make sure the particle filter is completely dry before reinsertion
- Check the owner’s manual for recommended service intervals for the concentrator
- Replace batteries if you notice them not holding their charge as long as they once did
- Most experts recommend the concentrator have 1 to 2 feet of clearance from walls