How to Clean Vicks Humidifier

by Véronique Raymond
vicks humidifier

Winters can get particularly cold and dry. If you live in such an area, buying the best humidifier is a very good idea to help improve the quality of your indoor air. Humidifiers, also called a vaporizer, are highly useful pieces of equipment, especially when preventing the buildup of static around your home, keeping airborne viruses at bay, and help with your sinuses. When used properly, they can even help your skin stay moist whenever you increase the heat of your HVAC system.

As is the case with every piece of equipment you buy, especially those that use water, proper maintenance is the best way to keep the machine running smoothly. Learning how to clean your Vicks humidifier could be the difference between needing to regularly replace it and having one that serves you for a long time.

Thankfully, cleaning your humidifier isn’t a very complicated process. It is, however, a process nonetheless. This is mostly because properly caring for your humidifier requires daily cleaning, weekly maintenance, and monthly disinfection. Here is a step-by-step guide that will show you how to clean a Vicks humidifier to keep it clean and avoid mineral buildup from use.

What You Will Need to Clean Your Vicks Humidifier

The best way to keep your humidifier bacteria-free is to clean it regularly at home. Fortunately, everything you need for this process can be found in a typical kitchen. Here is a list of all the necessary cleaning materials:

  • White vinegar
  • A soft-bristle brush
  • Clean towels or paper towel
  • Hydrogen peroxide or bleach
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • About a gallon of water (or tap water)

While each humidifier may be constructed differently, they all have the same basic components: an operating base and a water tank. The best part is that every plastic component can be cleaned with these very same materials. All you have to do is ensure that you do not touch the electrical components of the humidifier during your routine cleaning process.

Note: Take the time to read the manufacturer’s manual in case there are any special instructions to follow when cleaning your humidifier and any other piece of equipment in general. For example, specific care tips for a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier may slightly differ from those for a Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier.

Also, some use Vicks Vapopads, while there are also Vicks Vaposteam models, which may require more cleaning.

That being said, here are the cleaning instructions on how to clean a Vicks humidifier.

Step 1: Disassemble the Humidifier

Start by turning off and unplugging the humidifier from the wall. Place it on a flat surface, preferably near the sink you intend to use while cleaning it, and then start the disassembly process. Simply empty any water from the tank as well as the base or the water tray.

Step 2: Rinse Out the Tank

The humidifier tank is one of the most important components of the machine. This part needs to be cleaned thoroughly; otherwise, the rest of the process won’t matter. To do that, use warm water. Fill the tank reservoir with warm water before giving it a good shake.

Make sure to swish the warm water around the tank several times before emptying it again and repeating the process as many times as necessary. Lukewarm water is preferred to hot water because it minimizes the chances of destroying the tank and increases the likelihood of a more thorough cleaning.

Step 3: Clean the Base

Once you are done with the tank, it’s time to take on the humidifier’s base. This is also a very crucial component that requires extra care. Here are the steps necessary for thoroughly cleaning the base:

  • Plug in to you electrical outlet and turn it on
  • Let the machine run for about 15 minutes, allowing air to flow through the entire system while drying out all the components within

You won’t find these instructions in any of the manuals from Vicks. It is, however, an excellent trick to completely dry out the humidifier. However, some Vicks humidifier models won’t run without the water tank. If you turn on the humidifier and nothing happens, it means that you have this kind of model. In that case, this step doesn’t apply to you.

Step 4: Remove the Filter

Depending on your Vicks humidifier model, you might need to remove the filter from the base and set it aside. Some models don’t have filters, in which case, skip this step.

Step 5: Introduce the Cleaning Solution

To thoroughly clean your humidifier, you will need to create your own cleaning solution of 1-part white vinegar and 1-part water. You won’t need a lot of this solution, maybe just three cups.

Some of the main reasons why this 1:1 white vinegar and water solution is an excellent cleaning option is because vinegar is highly acidic yet non-toxic and eco-friendly. This means it easily breaks down any dirt, grime, and mineral deposits that could foster bacterial growth in the humidifier.

Step 6: Clean the Tank with the Solution

Go back to the tank and clean it again with the vinegar and water solution. To do this, simply use a soft cloth. Soak it in the cleaning solution and wipe both the inside and outside of the tank. You could also choose to pour some of the cleaning solution into the tank and swish it around just like you did the lukewarm water before.

Step 7: Use the Solution to Clean the Base

Soak it in the water-vinegar solution again and wipe down the humidifier’s base using the same cloth. Using your soft-bristle brush or a toothbrush, thoroughly clean the hard-to-reach parts to ensure that the base gets a good scrubbing.

One of the main reasons you will need to be extra careful when cleaning the base (also why you need to use the soft-bristle brush) is that this is the component that traps bacteria the most. Since it doesn’t get much airflow nor light and it’s always wet, it can be an excellent home for mould spores and bacteria. In some cases, you will see a pinkish residue at the bottom of the base.

That’s pink mould, and although it isn’t a great source of concern, you still need to thoroughly clean it out using the cloth, soft-bristle brush, and white vinegar solution to prevent it from spreading further and becoming more harmful.

Step 8: Thoroughly Rinse with Clean Water

Once you have given the humidifier and all the necessary components a thorough cleaning, you need to rinse them with clean water. All you have to do here is rinse the cloth you were using under warm water; make sure that it’s very clean and devoid of any cleaning solution.

Better yet, you could use a clean cloth to wipe down the humidifier and ensure that it doesn’t have any water-vinegar solution residue.

There you have it, a step-by-step guide for how to clean dirty humidifiers. Do this every week to make sure that it’s thoroughly clean and free of bacteria. You should also only use distilled water in your humidifier. Any other water may contain minerals that can aid in bacteria growth and can prove difficult to clean.


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