Most of us have seen the SoClean infomercials. They now have a celebrity endorsement with William Shatner saying how much he loves his SoClean with his CPAP and how much of a difference it makes for him.
But are these machines worth the money? For what they cost and what they do, they are not worth the money. The machines don’t actually clean, but sanitize. You will still have to clean your mask, water chamber, hose, etc before you put it in the SoClean or whatever device you are using. Paying $300-400 for a cleaning machine but you still have to clean everything by hand is really pointless.
The SoClean isn’t a bad machine, it is just not worth the money. If you really want a CPAP cleaner, there are cheaper options than the SoClean. I will break it all down in more detail about why the machines just aren’t worth the money.
What does the SoClean do?
First I will go over so things that the SoClean actually does. It’s primary function is a sanitizer. It sanitizes using activated oxygen to destroy 99.9% of germs, viruses, molds, and bacteria that may be building on your CPAP equipment like your mask, tubing, or water chamber. The SoClean activates common oxygen by breaking it down into 2 O atoms. These can recombine into an O3 aka, activated oxygen. That third oxygen atom turns the molecule into a powerful gas that can destroy microorganisms, like bacteria mold, and germs that can built up over time.
This can also be useful to fight viruses, which is a popular trend since the Covid-19 pandemic. Fighting germs every way we can has been a top priority to most people trying to stay safe.
What does the SoClean NOT do?
Sadly, it doesn’t clean. Which is crazy, because it has cleaning in the name. But like I said in the beginning, SoClean is not a cleaner, it is a sanitizer. It might kill germs, mold, and bacteria, but it won’t clean off any dirt, skin oils, mucus, or other physical debris. To do that, you have to PRECLEAN before you put it in the SoClean.
Did you get that? Before you put the supplies in the SoClean, you have to clean the supplies first. It says it right in SoClean’s manufacture manual. As you can see the picture below where I circled in red
“Please Note, SoClean 2 does not replace proper cleaning and maintenance of the sleep equipment according to the manufacture’s instructions”
So for me, I don’t see the purpose of spending $400 on a cleaning machine to make life easier when I still have to clean everything by hand to begin with. I can understand someone who has money to throw away would purchase it as luxury. But for someone like me, $400 is a lot of money to spend on something that does so little.
I use Mask Bright to clean all my supplies. It is way cheaper, it gets it done fast, and efficient. And if I bought the SoClean, I would still have to keep that process up anyway.
SoClean and Similar Products are NOT FDA Approved
That is correct, SoClean is not FDA approved, which is a major reason why health insurance will not cover the SoClean. Not only is it not FDA approved, but on February 27, 2020, the FDA actually issued a warning to remind people about the problems with these machines. Below is an excerpt from the article the FDA published:
“The FDA has identified several manufacturers that are marketing ozone gas or UV light-based products claiming to clean, disinfect or sanitize CPAP devices and accessories in the home,” said William H. Maisel, M.D., M.P.H, director of the Office of Product Evaluation and Quality in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Exposure to high levels of ozone gas may worsen a patients’ existing chronic respiratory diseases or increase the chance of a respiratory infection. UV light-based products could cause burns, eye damage or increase the risk of skin cancer due to over exposure. The FDA has contacted manufacturers of products making these claims and asked them to submit data demonstrating their safety and effectiveness.” -FDA, February 27th, 2020
Earlier I talked about how O3 can be used to kill germs, bacteria, mold, and things like that. But one of the problems with O3 is that it isn’t safe for people to breath. The SoClean is designed to use only small amounts of O3 to be safe. It also turns that O3 back into safe air before it gets released back into the open air.
However, in the article by the FDA, it talks about 11 reports in a 2 year period of people using Ozone cleaners and experiencing respiratory problems like asthma attack or breathing problems. What is concerning that what if a person buys a defective SoClean and it does release O3 to a vulnerable person and they breath it in? Defective machines are a reality, even in the best factories.
Other Problems with SoClean and Ozone Cleaners
Not Covered by insurance
If you want the SoClean, be prepared to pay cash. Health insurance does not cover an Ozone Cleaner at all. A major reason is it not being FDA approved.
These machines are expensive! Save money. Use Soap and Water
SoClean takes up a lot of space, almost more than CPAPs themselves depending on which one you have.
Voiding CPAP Warranty
Some CPAP Manufactures will void a CPAP Warranty if you use something like SoClean. How they would enforce that I am not sure, but it is another knock against the SoClean
As of February 1st, 2020, Resmed issued a statement that any Ozone damage would void the CPAP Warranty.
Ozone Smells bad
Even if ozone doesn’t get released to the air, it can still leave an odor on things like your mask and tubing. This unpleasant odor could make you sick or just make sleep difficult breathing in an awful smell
No Evidence They Reduce Chances Of Infection
There have been no studies that actually show they reduce infection. Since the machines sell well, there is no incentive for them to do such a study. The study could only backfire on them. There hasn’t been any real independent study on these machines as well. Almost any testing has been done is SoClean’s labs. Lacking any independent lab research should be a red flag for everyone.
What about the Lumin instead of the SoClean?
For the most part I have been talking about the SoClean. But they aren’t the only game in town. Like SoClean, Lumin is a CPAP sanitizer that kills 99% of germs, bacteria, mold, etc. And like the SoClean, it does NOT clean off dirt, face oils, or other particles.
What makes the Lumin different (besides the $250 price tag) is that instead of Ozone, it uses UV rays to sanitize and kill germs. The UV rays is a positive, in that it doesn’t have any known health risks that ozone has.
But what are UV rays? It is light. It would be a similar process if you brought the supplies outside and let the sun kill the germs. So even at a lower price point, paying $250 to do what the sun can do just does not make financial sense.
Are any CPAP Cleaners Worth It?
At this point, they just aren’t worth the money. But if you are dead set on getting one, your best bet is probably the most affordable one you can find. One of the more popular options is an Ozone cleaner by Motif. It does what the SoClean does, but it has a much lower price point. On CPAPSupplies.com it is usually priced at about $70. But they always have generous discount codes on their website that change often.
So basically my advice, if you feel you need a cleaner, go with an affordable one that won’t make you broke buying it.
These are expensive machines and they don’t even clean like they advertise. The name SoClean is false advertising in itself. It should be called NoClean. Even with the machines, you have to still preclean your supplies. So just clean your supplies, that will take care of what you need. Even the FDA has concerns and they are not FDA approved.
If you feel you must buy a CPAP Sanitizer, buy a more affordable option like the Motif.
I see articles and reviews of people saying good things about SoClean. But all these articles have an incentive to make money by selling the machines or getting commission from them. So these don’t seem to be unbiased opinions people are sharing.
If you really want to clean your CPAP, I wrote an in depth article on how to clean your CPAP. And I also have a nice review on my favorite CPAP cleaning product, Mask Bright.