Children's Hospital Colorado
Breathing Institute
Breathing Institute

How to Use an MDI Inhaler Video

Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) with Spacer and Mouthpiece


  1. Remove caps from the spacer and metered dose inhaler (MDI).
  2. Shake the inhaler for 3-5 seconds.
  3. If the inhaler is new, hasn’t been used in a while, or has been dropped it needs to be primed. Spray 4 times to prime. This does not count as a dose of medication.
  4. Connect the inhaler and the spacer.
  5. Stand or sit up straight.
  6. Breathe out, insert mouthpiece between teeth and make a tight seal with your lips.
  7. Press down on the MDI once to spray into the spacer.
  8. Breathe in slowly & deeply through your mouth. YOU SHOULD NOT HEAR A WHISTLE.
  9. If you hear a whistle you are breathing in too fast.
  10. Hold your breath for 10 seconds. Breathe out normally.
  11. Wait 1 minute and repeat steps 2-9 for each puff prescribed.
  12. Remove the MDI from the spacer. Replace the cap on your MDI when finished.
  13. If you are using an inhaled steroid, rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after each use.

Cleaning instructions

  • Clean spacer once a week.
  • Take apart the spacer.
  • Rinse in warm soapy water.
  • Rinse with clean water and air dry.
  • Do not put in the dishwasher.
  • Clean the small hole in the MDI once a week with a wet Q-tip.
  • Replace the MDI when the counter reaches 000. It may continue to spray, but no medicine is coming out.

Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) with Spacer and Facemask



*Facemask should be used with children under the age of 7.

  1. Remove caps from the spacer and metered dose inhaler (MDI).
  2. Shake the MDI for 2-3 seconds.
  3. If the inhaler is new, hasn’t been used in a while, or has been dropped it needs to be primed. Spray 4 times to prime. This does not count as a dose of medication.
  4. Connect the MDI to the spacer. Attach the mask to the mouthpiece of the spacer.
  5. Stand or sit up straight.
  6. Place the mask over the child’s nose and mouth to make a tight seal.
  7. Have the child breathe out.
  8. Press the top of the MDI so that it sprays into the spacer. Only press one time.
  9. Have your child breathe in and out for 10 seconds.
  10. Wait 1 minute and repeat steps 2-9 for each puff prescribed.
  11. Remove the MDI from the spacer. Replace the cap on your MDI when finished.
  12. If your child used an inhaled steroid, wash face and rinse mouth or brush teeth after each use.

Cleaning instructions

  • Clean spacer once a week.
  • Remove mask and take apart the spacer.
  • Rinse in warm soapy water.
  • Rinse with clean water and air dry.
  • Do not put in the dishwasher.
  • Clean the small hole in the MDI once a week with a wet Q-tip.
  • Replace the MDI when the counter reaches 000. It may continue to spray but no medicine is coming out.

Download instructions on how to use an MDI inhaler (.pdf)

Two girls with asthma sit on a couch with their moms connecting over their asthma treatment journeys at Children's Hospital Colorado.

The Connection Journey: Helping Kids Breathe Easier

Managing your child's asthma can be challenging. That's why Angela is happy to share the tips she's learned through her daughter Ava's journey.


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