As some of you know, I am an engineer of food processing equipment, a discipline that overlaps microbiology and material science....so I offer (humbly) some information that may be helpful relative to masks'n'microbes.
- Your mask (hard clear plastic) is made from polycarbonate.
- Your pillows and sealing surface (soft, flexible components) are made from silicone rubber.
- Both materials are considered "inert", meaning they won't chemically change or bond to other materials in a natural environment.
- Silicon is a dense, high molecular weight material which is resistant to absorption (non-porous with no way for water or microbes to permeate the material surface).
- Silicon will remain stable at temperatures higher than all microbes can withstand, without embrittlement or decomposition.
- Silicon is inert to most chemicals except hydrochloric acid (which does exist in stomach acid).
- Microbes are generally of two types: 1) food spoilage microbes, and, 2) pathogens.
- Food spoilage microbes exist in the trillions throughout your body, particularly your mouth and colon, they make up a stable community (microbiome) considered to be healthy.
- Pathogens are responsible for most diseases. They exist in your body, your bedroom, your mask, and everywhere else...in concentrations (colony forming units) too small to compete with all the other microbes for dominance. (If you successfully killed all the spoilage microbes, the pathogens would grow unchecked and overrun your body.)
- Consequently, obsessive cleaning and sterilization of CPAP equipment serves no purpose. A simple wash with hot soapy water will reduce the concentrations of microbes and pathogens below the levels that already exist in the body. Further cleaning is futile, your body will return the microbe level of the mask to that of the body.
- If your mask is breaking down, it is more likely to be caused by acid reflux from your stomach over time, than from soaps.
Understanding your body as a microbione is discussed here.
An exhaustive list of links and scientific resources discussing the existence and purpose of bacteria in your body is shown here.
The history and chemistry of the Medical Applications of Silicones are discussed here.
The relationship between Silicon ( your mask) and Organics (your body) are discussed there
I hope this information will arrest your fears if any, and focus your cleaning efforts toward the "concentration" of microbes rather than the "existence" of microbes.