Photo of a red haired boy using a holding chamber

Your asthma spacer, also called your valved holding chamber, should be cleaned periodically. Cleaning removes the normal accumulation of particles on the inside walls and valve.

Washing can also help combat static electricity. While it’s normal for some large medication particles to cling to the inside walls, static electricity can cause smaller particles to collect in the chamber. This can decrease the amount of medicine that gets into the lungs.

That’s why it’s important to use a valved holding chamber made with antistatic materials. Follow the recommended cleaning process to reduce static charge.

Step-by-Step Instructions

First, always check your device for cracks, debris or damage before each use. Clean it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions – usually once a week if you’re using it daily. Some units require washing before the first use. 

Cleaning instructions will vary from one brand to another. These are the most common steps: 

  • Disassemble: Follow instructions for taking the holding chamber apart. This may include removing the soft plastic port where the inhaler is inserted, the mouthpiece cap, and sometimes the mask. Do not take the valve section apart, unless instructed.

TIP: Always remove your metered-dose inhaler (MDI) from the holding chamber before cleaning. MDIs require a different cleaning procedure, usually without water.

  • Soak: Prepare a large bowl with a solution of lukewarm water and liquid dishwashing detergent. (Washing with water alone causes an electrostatic charge to develop.)  Soak the device and all its pieces for 15 minutes.

TIP: Choose a bowl large enough for the chamber to rest fully in the water.

  • Rinse: Rinse all the pieces in clean water. 

TIP: You can reduce the static charge of non-antistatic holding chambers and spacers by washing the device in a dishwashing liquid solution. Then let it air dry without rinsing. This is not as effective as using antistatic materials, however.

  • Air Dry: Shake off excess water. Place the pieces on a clean, lint-free cloth or drying rack to air dry. Rest the chamber section on its end (vertically), rather than on its side.

TIP: Do not towel-dry, as that can build up static charge.

  • Reassemble: When all the pieces are completely dry, carefully put them back together according to the instructions.

Can you put spacers and valved holding chambers in the dishwasher?

Most manufacturers say their spacers and valved holding chambers are dishwasher safe. Follow the instructions carefully. Most should not be put through a dry cycle or washed in water hotter than 158 degrees. Other instructions say not to wash holding chambers with extremely dirty dishes or in heavy wash cycles.