Caring for Your Inhaler

Caring for Your Inhaler

Your doctor may prescribe medication that you breathe in using a metered-dose inhaler. You need to keep your inhaler clean. Keep track of how much medication is left in the canister, so you’ll never run out.

Hand holding part of inhaler under running water. More parts of inhaler and spacer are lying on towel on counter.

Keeping Your Inhaler Clean

  • Take off the canister and cap from the mouthpiece.

  • Do not wash the canister or immerse it in water.

  • Run warm tap water through the mouthpiece for about a minute.

  • Shake off the excess water and allow the mouthpiece to air-dry overnight.

  • If you need the inhaler before the mouthpiece is dry, shake off excess water, replace canister, and test spray two times (away from the face).

  • Clean the spacer with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap once every week or two. (Do not use water alone.)

  • Check the package insert for specific instructions on the care and cleaning of your inhaler and spacer.

When to Replace Your Inhaler

Each inhaler is good for only a certain number of puffs of medication. After those puffs are used up, any puffs remaining will not give you the amount of medication you need. To be sure you’ll get enough medication when you need it, keep track of how many puffs you use. Here’s a tip:

  1. Find the number on the canister that tells you how many puffs it contains.

  2. Divide this number by how many puffs you are told to use in one day. This gives you the number of days your medication should last.

  3. Use your calendar to find out what date your medication will run out. Mark it on the canister and on your calendar.

Be sure to replace the inhaler before you run out of medication. A few inhalers now have dose counters to track the amount of medication used. Ask your health care provider if a counter is available on your inhaler.

Sample for you to fill in:


Number of puffs in new canister



Number of puffs you use each day



Number of days medication will last

Note: Be aware that your medication will run out sooner if you use your inhaler more often than planned.

For example, if your new canister holds 200 puffs and you’ve been told to use 4 puffs a day:

200 ÷ 4 = 50 days