A handheld nebulizer can be a great help for some people with breathing challenges, but it requires good cleaning and maintenance to work best. Here's a look at how to care for your nebulizer.
Why It's Important to Keep Your Nebulizer Clean
In order for a nebulizer to work correctly, you need to keep it clean. If you don't, the jet holes or mesh holes in your nebulizer may become clogged, reducing how much medicine is released. Lack of cleaning can also lead to bacterial growth.
Daily Cleaning Steps
Here are some tips for helping your nebulizer maintain peak performance. Basic cleaning should be done after each use, with more intense cleaning once a week or as directed.
First, all nebulizers should be rinsed after every use. If you have a jet nebulizer, you'll need to remove the plastic tubing and wash all parts but the tubing in hot water with dish soap after every use. Rinse it under running water and let it air dry. The tubing doesn't need to be cleaned.
If you have a mesh nebulizer, you'll need to pour out leftover medicine, separate the mouthpiece from the handset, wash every day in a bowl of warm water and liquid dish soap, then rinse and allow to air dry. Don't rinse the handset.
Beyond the daily cleaning, you'll also need to disinfect your nebulizer every week. For a mesh nebulizer, boil the mouthpiece for 10 minutes. The medication chamber should be open and the mouthpiece should not touch the bottom of the pan. Then let it air dry. In addition, wipe the handset with a clean damp cloth at least once a week.
For a jet nebulizer, boil the nebulizer parts (but not the tubing or mask) in soapy water for 10 minutes. Then rinse under running water for two minutes and let it air dry. You can get more tips on cleaning your nebulizer here.
Some sites also recommend soaking the nebulizer cup and mouthpiece or mask in a solution of vinegar and water every three days. It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor and read the recommendations that come with your particular nebulizer in order to make sure you're following all the guidelines closely.