Nebulizer cup in water with steam and bubbles

Three Ways to Sanitize Nebulizer Cups

An important step in airway clearance is the maintenance and cleaning of nebulizer cups used to nebulizer inhaled medications. Since I care about my overall lung health and work so hard to keep lung infections at bay, I never skip cleaning and disinfecting my neb cups. Although it’s probably the most annoying step in my CF care routine, I know it’s a vital task to preserve lung function.

Why is nebulizer cup sterilization important?

Nebulizer cup sterilization is vital since without proper cleaning you may be breathing in germs that are trapped in the device after completing airway clearance.1 The germs can then lead to serious lung infections down the road creating a vicious cycle of sickness. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are the most common organisms that can cause respiratory infections for people living with CF.2

Although nebulizer cup cleaning can take some time, it’s not a hard process. General cleaning of nebulizer can be done following these easy steps:1

  1. Clean the nebulizer parts with hot soapy water
  2. Disinfect with one of the sterilization methods
  3. Rinse with sterile water
  4. Air dry on a clean dish towel

3 methods to clean and sanitize nebulizer parts

On-the-go: Microwave sterilization bags

My favorite way to clean and disinfect nebulizer cups is to use microwave sterilization bags for baby bottles sold in the baby aisle. They are readily accessible and affordable at local big box stores and online.

In addition, microwave bags are very easy and quick to use whether at home or while traveling if you have access to a microwave. Just follow the instructions on the package and within a few minutes you’ll have clean and disinfected nebulizer cups!

Quick and easy: Electric steam sterilizer

Another great way to disinfect nebulizer cups is to utilize a countertop steam sterilizer often made to clean baby items like bottles and binkies. I know a lot of people with CF swear by the Wabi Steam Sterilizer which can clean and dry nebulizers within one machine. However, there are many different brands and models which achieve the same goal. I can see how this method would be favorable if you had the counter space to store the machine. It’s quick, easy, and ready for a batch of dirty nebulizers at any time!

The old faithful: Boil and air dry

Back in the day, boiling nebulizer cups was the only way to disinfect them in many households. We used to call it “Neb Soup” as a kid, and I can still picture the giant pot sitting on the stovetop bubbling over with plastic nebulizer pieces and parts. It was a ritual. Old and faithful and still a tried and true way of cleaning neb cups.

To boil nebulizers, after soaking them in hot soapy water and then rinsing clean, boil for 5 minutes completely submerging all the parts. Air dry all the pieces and parts on a clean dish towel until completely dry.1

Whatever method you choose to clean and disinfect your nebulizer, remember you’re checking off the last tick to complete your airway clearance and maintenance. Your lungs will thank you in the long run!

How do you clean and disinfect your nebulizer cups? Which method works the best for your lifestyle? Share with us below!

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