Everything you need to know about CPAP humidification

A humidifier instantly prevents common CPAP machine side effects. If you find yourself waking up with a dry mouth, nose or throat a humidifier will solve this.

It is clinically proven, that humidification improves compliance and helps CPAP and BiPAP users avoid suffering from a dry nose, mouth and throat. A humidifier can be extremely beneficial for those who are often visiting countries with drier climates.

Still, even in the UK and colder parts of Europe, CPAP users report significant benefits from a humidifier added to their setup.

Those who use a full-face mask specifically benefit from CPAP humidification. When you breathe through your nose, the hairs in the nasal airway warm the air with heat and humidity before it enters the lungs. When you breathe through your mouth, this process is not present and can lead to uncomfortable dryness. One other note is that allergies and illness can make the effects worse.

What does a CPAP humidifier do?

CPAP humidifier houses a water chamber, which it heats to add moisture to the air provided by your machine. They are ideal for those who find the device leaves them waking with a dry mouthsore nasal passages or find the air cold and therefore uncomfortable.

They are usually an additional piece of equipment that locks onto or into your main CPAP machine, but some CPAP machines come with a humidifier built-in. Most CPAP machines will have their specific humidifier available.

For some people, having a humidifier moisten and warm the air from their CPAP machine is an essential part of their therapy; for others, there is a little benefit so it can come down to personal preference. Those using a full face mask are more likely to require humidified air as they are more susceptible to a dry mouth. For those using an oral mask, humidified air is more or less essential.

If you know you need a humidifier, then it could be worth considering a machine with a humidifier built-in. An example of this is the Fisher and Paykel SleepStyle this design adds greater convenience, and they’re often more compact than having two separate units (space on your bedside table).

Intus healthcare advice:

All though we do believe that humidifiers can improve the comfort of the CPAP therapy for suffers, we would advise that if you’re new to CPAP therapy, you should try your mask and machine before you purchase a humidifier.

SleepStyle Humidified Auto CPAP Machine by Fisher & Paykel | Intus Healthcare

What are the benefits of a CPAP humidifier?

The main reason for using a CPAP machine humidifier is to eliminate common side-effects of CPAP therapy, such as:

  • A sore throat
  • A dry mouth
  • Sinus and nasal inflammation
  • Congestion relief
  • A dry nose
  • Nose bleeds

Does a CPAP humidifier help with congestion?

If you have a blocked, stuffy or runny nose a humidifier helps to break down the mucus. Adding moisture and warmth to your airways to relieve congestion.

What kind of water do you use in a CPAP humidifier?

CPAP manufacturers advise that you should always use distilled water in you CPAP humidifier. This is because it is 99.9% purified, has no minerals, microbes or chemical contaminates.

To get the most from your humidifier use fresh distilled water daily.

Why can’t you use tap water in your CPAP humidifier?

Tap water contains traces of pollutions and microbes which are unhealthy to breathe in, decreasing your air quality.

Tap water can leave hard white mineral deposits in the chamber due to evaporation, potentially leading to mould growth. Using tap water will decrease the lifespan of your humidifier and your therapy quality.

To get the most from your therapy you should clean your humidifier daily.
Some cleaning tips and tricks:


You can disinfect your humidifier by soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water. 1/5 of the solution should be vinegar, and the rest water. Please leave it to soak in the solution for up to 30 minutes, then thoroughly rinse it with water and leave it to dry. Make sure when you leave it to dry, it is out of the way of direct sunlight.

Avoid cleaning your CPAP humidification system water chamber with any substances that would be harmful to breathe in:

This includes –

  • Bleach
  • Chlorine
  • Alcohol

And any other potentially harmful substances. Using fragrance free soap is advised when cleaning your CPAP humidifier. 

Always refer to your humidifier’s manufacturer cleaning guide. 

The SoClean 2 CPAP sanitiser can help sanitise your humidifier tub automatically within two hours.

If you travel with your machine mask wipes can make cleaning simple.

Can you travel with a CPAP humidifier?

You should take your CPAP supplies anywhere you go as you should never pause your therapy.

CPAP machines with built-in humidifiers can be delicate and require extra care in transit. Therefore it is advised the humidifier is entirely free of water – and preferably packed separately if you are travelling with your CPAP machine. If your humidifier chamber is detachable, empty it fully and store safely.

If you are running your CPAP machine from a 12V source (for example in a car or caravan), purchasing a 12V DC cable can ensure you can safely power your device.

Many CPAP users take a battery pack when travelling on a plane or camping, please be aware a humidifier can drain your battery quicker.

An alternative is to take disposable waterless humidification, these are easy-to-use and pack.

What is CPAP humidifier rainout?

A possible drawback of humidified air is from, what we call Rainout, the proper name for condensation build-up in the tubing and mask. It is likely to happen because the tubing and CPAP mask will be at room temperature (20–22 °C (68–72 °F)), causing the warmer air from the CPAP machine to cool and condense as a result.

Rainout can result in a gargling noise or just general discomfort; it is particularly common in the winter months.

How to stop CPAP rainout

One solution we offer is a hose fleece, which provides the CPAP machine’s hose with insulation, temperature regulation and protection,

Our second and more comprehensive option is to use a heated CPAP hose, such as the universal Hybernate Heated Breathing Tube.

The heated hose ensures the temperature difference inside the tubing is negligible, preventing rainout and ensuring the air reaches you at the correct temperature.


For any further advice contact us.