Caring for Your Inhaler

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine that you breathe in using a metered-dose inhaler. It is important to keep it clean. You should also keep track of how much medicine is left in the canister so you’ll never run out.

Hand holding inhaler mouthpiece under running water. Spacer lying on towel on counter.

Keeping your inhaler clean

  • Take off the canister, the part with the medicine, and cap from the mouthpiece.

  • Don't wash the canister or put it in water.

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

  • Shake off the water and let it air-dry.

  • If you need to use it before it is dry, shake off any water and replace the canister. Test spray it away from you to make sure it works.

  • If you use a spacer, clean it with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap. Do this once every week or two.

  • Make sure you check the package insert for special instructions. The insert is the information that comes with the medicine. It may tell you how to take care of and clean your spacer.

When to replace your inhaler

Each inhaler is good for only a certain number of puffs of medicine. After those puffs are used up, any puffs left will not give you the amount of medicine you need. To be sure you’ll get enough medicine when you need it, keep track of how many puffs you use. Here’s an easy way to keep track of the medicine in your inhaler:

  1. Find the number on the mouthpiece that tells you how many puffs it contains. Some inhalers have the counter on the mouthpiece instead of the canister. Keep the canister and mouthpiece together so you can keep track of how many puffs are left.

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

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

Be sure to get a refill of your medicines before you run out. Some inhalers have dose counters to track the amount of medicine used.

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

200 ÷ 4 = 50 days

Sample for you to fill in:



Number of puffs in new canister




Number of puffs you use each day




Number of days medicine will last

Note: Remember that your medicine will not last long if you use your inhaler more often than planned.