How to Clean a Suction Machine

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Suction machines are used by trained caregivers to remove matter and secretions from a person's mouth, throat and sometimes upper trachea. Using a vacuum created by the machine, secretions are collected through tubing connected to a collection canister. Collected secretions contain bacterial and viral microbes. Thorough, frequent cleaning is essential to prevent the growth and spread of germs. Cleaning of the collection container after each use is considered good practice by health-care workers.

Wash and dry hands and gather supplies. Put on gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as desired. Remove suction catheter and tubing from the collection canister. Disconnect the canister from the machine. Take the canister into the bathroom.

Remove the lid from the container and dispose of the collected secretions into the toilet. Flush the toilet. Rinse the collection canister and lid with hot water.

Add soap and scrub the collection canister using hot water and bottle brush. Wash off the outside and lid of the canister with a soapy, wet washcloth or antibacterial wipes. Rinse off the lid and canister. Dry with paper towels.

Rinse off the reusable bottle brush. Wipe down the sink and discard used materials in trash bag. Remove gloves and other PPE worn and dispose of properly. Wash and dry your hands.

Replace the lid onto the canister after taking it back into the room, and reconnect it to the machine. Reattach the tubing to reconnect it to the suction machine. Wipe off the remaining parts of the machine with an antibacterial cloth.


Never leave collection canister at the bedside when they contain matter and secretions; always remove, empty and clean before leaving the patient's room.


Restock supplies for next use of the suction machine after each cleaning so it will be ready to use in an emergency.