How To Clean A Humidifier

by Véronique Raymond
humidifier review

Humidifiers are very helpful products as they are incredibly beneficial for dry skin, static electricity, and other symptoms of low humidity in the home.

Whether you use an ultrasonic humidifier, evaporative humidifier, or any other type of humidifier, a regular cleaning schedule is important.

Let’s go over some cleaning tips so you can extend the life of your machine and ensure you are not compromising your indoor air quality with contaminated water vapor.

 

Why Do Humidifiers Need To Be Cleaned?

While you may believe that filling your humidifier with fresh water regularly is enough to keep it clean, there is actually a bit more work involved.

Bacteria and mold can quickly grow in your humidifier, as they love a warm, moist environment.

It only takes a day or two for bacteria colonies to start multiplying.

Since your humidifier is constantly adding water vapor to the air, it is essential that the vapor is free of those contaminants, otherwise you’ll end up breathing them in and affecting your health.

Cleaning a humidifier regularly will also help extend its lifespan and ensure it is always working at maximum capacity.

A dirty humidifier will have trouble filtering the water through each component, and mineral buildup can affect the mechanisms inside the machine that actually produce the vapor.

A regular cleaning schedule can make a big difference in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and longevity of the machine.

 

How Often Should I Clean My Humidifier?

humidifier review

Almost every humidifier manufacturer will recommend a weekly schedule.

Hard water sitting around, especially in a warm environment created by a warm mist humidifier, can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria and cause mineral build up.

If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, it is a good idea to shorten this window to twice weekly in order to guarantee your humidifier is always pumping out clean water vapor.

Otherwise, the benefits you receive by alleviating the dry air will be compounded by the microbes and mold put into the air.

 

Things You Need

There are some supplies you’ll need in order to maximise your cleaning potential.

The best humidifiers will come apart easily and be designed for cleaning, but these items will be necessary no matter what type of humidifier have.

Cleaning Solution

There are a number of cleaning products and homemade cleaning solutions that you can use in order to deep clean your humidifier.

They will also be effective for periodic maintenance cleaning.

Distilled white vinegar is one of the most popular cleaning solutions for humidifiers.

It is safe and non-damaging to the materials of pretty much every humidifier.

In some instances you’ll need to mix the vinegar with water to dilute it, but in other cases, you can use it as is.

Liquid chlorine bleach is another popular choice, and this will have antimicrobial properties just as the white vinegar with.

You’ll have to rinse it more if you use a bleach solution because it can be toxic, but it is still a safe option for cleaning a dehumidifier.

One bonus to using bleach is that it is more potent than vinegar, so you’ll only need a teaspoon of bleach mixed with a gallon of water rather than a few cups of vinegar at a time.

If you want to both clean and disinfect your humidifier in one go or just don’t like the idea of using vinegar or bleach, a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is a great alternative.

Simply dilute it with water in a 4:1 ratio and you’ll eliminate all of the white dust and bacteria growth in the humidifier.

Other cleaning products like harsh detergents should not be used to clean your humidifier.

They can be damaging and have the potential to cause harm if the chemicals are released into the air to be inhaled.

Soft Bristled Brush

A small, soft bristled brush like a toothbrush is one of the items you’ll want to have with you when you clean your humidifier.

Mold can still build up in the crevices even if you’re using a cool mist humidifier rather than a steam one, and you’ll want to be able to clean this out of the humidifier tank completely.

Mineral build up can also occur in these areas unless you are using distilled water, and a soft bristled brush is the only way to guarantee you get all of those mineral deposits out.

Owner’s Manual/Manufacturer’s Instructions

It is a good idea to have your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s instructions with you when you begin cleaning out your humidifier.

It will tell you how to protect the electrical components of the machine and what materials are safe to use on the various components.

Some disinfecting sprays can be quite harsh, and the last thing you want to do is replace a humidifier because you used the wrong cleaning solution or poured water out the wrong side of the water tank.

New Humidifier Filter

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If you have a type of humidifier that requires a filter, you may need to have a replacement with you. Some filters are easily washable, but others aren’t, so make sure you know what your specific humidifier requires for regular maintenance.

 

Step-By-Step Instructions (Using White Vinegar)

  1. Unplug the humidifier and empty all the remaining water. Disassemble the unit
  2. Fill the base with one cup of water and one cup of white vinegar
  3. Swish softly to wet every part and let the base soak for an hour
  4. Fill the water reservoir with 2 cups of pure white vinegar and shake vigorously to loosen grime
  5. Hold the reservoir upside down and empty the vinegar through the nozzle
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with tap water to rinse
  7. Drain the water from the base once it has soaked long enough
  8. Use a vinegar-soaked cloth to wipe the base and all external components such as the air funnel
  9. Use a toothbrush to get into the crevices
  10. Leave all of the components out to air dry after rinsing in running water and then reassemble the clean humidifier

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