How Often Should Oxygen Tubing Be Changed: Essential Guidelines

Oxygen therapy is a vital treatment for many individuals with respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung-related illnesses. A key component of oxygen therapy is the oxygen tubing and cannula, which connect the patient to the oxygen supply. Ensuring that these parts are clean and replaced regularly is essential to maintaining the effectiveness and safety of the therapy.

The frequency of changing oxygen tubing depends on the patient’s usage patterns and needs. For individuals who use oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is generally recommended to change the nasal cannula every two weeks and the tubing every three to six months. However, if oxygen is utilized for fewer hours per day or on an as-needed basis, the guidelines for replacement can vary. For instance, the cannula may be changed monthly, and tubing may need replacement every two to six months.

It is important to follow the advice of healthcare professionals and the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations when determining the appropriate schedule for changing oxygen tubing and cannulas. Proper care and timely replacement can help avoid complications like infections and ensure optimal respiratory support.

Oxygen Therapy Overview

Oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that involves providing supplemental oxygen to patients who are unable to maintain adequate oxygen levels in their blood. This can be due to various causes such as chronic lung diseases, breathing disorders, and acute illnesses. In this section, we will discuss the basics of oxygen therapy and the importance of maintaining a clean and functional oxygen system.

Supplemental oxygen is typically delivered through an oxygen system consisting of an oxygen source, tubing, and a nasal cannula or a mask. The oxygen source can be an oxygen concentrator, compressed gas cylinder, or liquid oxygen container, depending on the specific needs and requirements of the patient.

A crucial part of any oxygen therapy regimen is proper maintenance and hygiene. This includes regularly changing the oxygen tubing and nasal cannula, which can lead to reduced effectiveness and increased risk of infection when not replaced timely. The recommended frequency for changing the tubing and cannula varies depending on the amount of oxygen therapy usage:

In addition to changing the tubing and cannula, patients should also clean their oxygen system regularly. This may involve servicing the concentrator on an annual basis and adopting personal care measures such as keeping the nose and lips moisturized with water-based products.

Following these guidelines and ensuring a clean and well-maintained oxygen system will help patients maximize the benefits of their oxygen therapy and minimize the risk of complications.

Oxygen Tubing Components

Nasal Cannula

The nasal cannula is a critical component of oxygen tubing systems. It is a small, lightweight tube that fits snugly into the patient’s nostrils, delivering oxygen directly into their airways. Nasal cannulas require periodic replacement, with recommendations varying depending on usage. If worn continuously, 24 hours per day, the cannula should be changed every two weeks1. If used less frequently, the nasal cannula should be changed weekly. It is important not to wash the nasal cannula, as this could lead to contamination.

Oxygen Concentrator

An oxygen concentrator is a device that extracts oxygen from ambient air and concentrates it for patients requiring supplemental oxygen. Oxygen concentrators are commonly used in home settings and come in portable or stationary varieties. The tubing connecting the concentrator to the patient should be replaced approximately every two weeks2. Replacement frequency can depend on factors such as the environment in which the concentrator is used, the specific type of concentrator, and frequency of use. The tubing should not be washed to maintain sterility.

Oxygen Cylinder

Oxygen cylinders are portable or stationary tanks that store and deliver medical-grade oxygen to patients. The tubing attached to the cylinder has an important role in maintaining proper flow and delivery of oxygen. To ensure optimal performance and hygiene, the tubing connected to the oxygen cylinder should be replaced at least every 90 days3. It is essential not to wash the tubing to avoid introducing contaminants.

Factors Influencing Tubing Changes


The environment in which oxygen tubing is used plays a significant role in determining how often it should be changed. Exposures to dust, dirt, or contaminants can lead to increased wear and tear on the tubing, requiring more frequent replacement. In extreme circumstances, such as a highly dusty environment, changing the tubing more frequently than usual is recommended1.


An individual’s oxygen supply company also influences the frequency of tubing changes. Some suppliers may provide specific guidelines on when to replace tubing and cannulas for their oxygen concentrators. Despite the varying recommendations, a general consensus suggests that oxygen tubing should be replaced every two weeks if it’s being used 7 days a week, 24 hours a day1.

Aside from these factors, it is crucial always to follow the guidance provided by the equipment manufacturer or one’s healthcare provider. Moreover, pay attention to the condition of the tubing— if it looks worn or visibly contaminated, replace it immediately.

  1. Oxygo 2

Recommended Frequency for Changing Oxygen Tubing

Therapy Type

The frequency for changing oxygen tubing depends on the type of therapy being used. For continuous oxygen therapy, it is advised to change the nasal cannula every 2 weeks if worn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 1. For intermittent oxygen therapy, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate schedule for changing tubing based on individual needs.

Tubing Material

Oxygen tubing is typically made of plastic materials, and the replacement frequency can vary depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some extension tubes may last up to three months, while others may need to be replaced more frequently 2. Regardless of the material, it is crucial to check the tubing regularly for any signs of damage or grime.

In addition to changing the tubing, it is essential to maintain the cleanliness of your oxygen equipment:

  • Oxygen concentrators: Clean the filter weekly with warm soapy water 1.
  • Oxygen masks: Clean twice a week with warm soapy water 1.

In summary, the frequency for changing oxygen tubing depends on the therapy type and tubing material used. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best schedule for changing tubing based on individual needs and equipment maintenance.

  1. Replacing your Oxygen Cannula and Extension Tubing 2 3
  2. Oxygen Equipment Cleaning and Maintenance

Portable Oxygen Systems

Portable oxygen systems are essential for those with respiratory conditions that require supplemental oxygen. These systems can provide patients with increased mobility and independence, allowing them to carry out daily activities with ease.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator

A portable oxygen concentrator (POC) is a device that extracts oxygen from the surrounding air and delivers it to the user. POCs operate on batteries, making them an ideal choice for those on the go. There are a few key points to consider when using a POC to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.

  1. Oxygen Delivery: POCs deliver oxygen through a nasal cannula or mask. It is important to choose the correct delivery method based on the user’s needs and comfort level. Changing the cannula every 2-4 weeks is recommended to avoid infection, and more frequently if the user has been sick (^1^). If the patient is exposed to dusty environments, the tubing should be changed more often (^2^).
  2. Maintenance: Regular maintenance of a POC is crucial. Users should replace their air filters every month and change the tubing every 2-6 months, depending on usage (^3^). These timeframes can vary based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the individual’s usage patterns. Annual servicing of the concentrator by the oxygen supply company is also essential for optimal performance.
  3. Battery Life: Battery life is an important factor for users who rely on their POC for extended periods of time. It is essential to always have a fully charged battery and a backup available. Charging the battery as needed and following the manufacturer’s recommendations will help extend the life of the battery.

By following these guidelines, users can maintain their portable oxygen systems and ensure safe and effective oxygen delivery.

Humidification and Oxygen Tubing Maintenance

To maintain the effectiveness of oxygen therapy, it is essential to regularly clean and replace oxygen tubing and humidifier components. Ensuring proper maintenance can help prevent bacterial infections and ensure consistent and effective oxygen delivery to the patient.

One important aspect of oxygen therapy is humidification. Oxygen delivered to the body can be drying, so many oxygen systems use a humidifier bottle for added moisture. These humidifier bottles should be emptied, washed, dried, and refilled with new distilled water daily to maintain cleanliness. It is recommended to avoid the practice of “topping off” fluid levels and to clean the bottle thoroughly between uses.

When it comes to oxygen tubing, the replacement frequency depends on the doctor’s recommendations and the specific tubing being used. Some types of extension tubing can be used for up to three months, while others need to be replaced more frequently. However, it is crucial to inspect the tubing regularly for signs of damage or grime, as this can affect therapy effectiveness.

Consider the following schedule for oxygen equipment maintenance:

  • Every week:
    • Wash the nasal cannula with soap and warm water.
    • Clean the air filter and wipe the outside of the concentrator.
  • Every 2-4 weeks:
    • Replace the nasal cannula or face mask.
  • As needed:
    • Check the tubing for damage, grime, or obstruction.

Lastly, when a patient is sick, it is vital to replace the cannula or mask immediately to reduce the risk of infection. Following these guidelines will help ensure that patients using oxygen therapy equipment receive optimal care and maintain a high quality of life.

The team at are experts when it comes to oxygen concentrators. We are dedicated to providing as much help as we can for people who are undergoing oxygen therapy and need help with oxygen concentrators. We research and immerse ourselves in the industry and are assisted by our team of medical experts.

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