In This Article
- Why do You Need to Clean Your Humidifier
- What do You Need to Clean Your Humidifier
- How to Clean Your Humidifier
- How To Prevent Mold and Mineral Build-Up
Straight off the bat, let me say I need my humidifier! In fact, I own three. I keep one in my bedroom, one in the living room, and one at the office.
In winter, when the air is dry, I feel like a camel moved into my sinus canal. When the flowers and trees are in full bloom in spring and summer, and the pollen count is as high as the sky, I feel like the bees are dropping pollen into my eyes and nose.
Thankfully my humidifiers help me with both those issues and more! Plus, they’re easy to clean and maintain so that I can be comfortable all year round without too much hassle.
Why do You Need to Clean Your Humidifier
Humidifiers can help reduce headaches and allergy symptoms by improving the health of your nasal passages. However, if humidifiers are not well maintained and cleaned properly, they can worsen allergy symptoms and even cause other illnesses. Bacteria and fungi can develop, and these can be dangerous when inhaled.(1)
Apart from your health and wellbeing, keeping your humidifier clean will extend its life and ensure it works properly.
Like any appliance, if you don’t look after it, it won’t last as long as it was designed to. And worst still, in this case, it could start doing more harm than good.
You don’t want to be spreading potentially harmful mold or bacteria into the air. Without regular cleaning and occasional disinfecting, the water in your humidifier will stagnate. In essence, when you turn your humidifier on without cleaning it first, that bad water is being misted into the air, and you and your family will breathe it in.
Thankfully, all of these symptoms can be avoided if you take a few minutes to clean your humidifier from time to time.
What do You Need to Clean Your Humidifier
To keep your humidifier clean and free of mold or bacteria, you only need a few household essentials:
- White vinegar
- Clean water
- A soft-bristle brush
- A clean, soft cloth
How to Clean Your Humidifier
Cleaning a humidifier is not difficult – but it is oh so essential to do it thoroughly. It would be dreadful if the one thing you believe is aiding your family’s respiratory health lands up harming them. This could be the case if your humidifier is releasing bacteria-laden moisture into your home.
A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Unplug the humidifier and disassemble the different parts. You can follow the manufacturer’s guide until you get the hang of it.
Step 2: Detach the water tank and empty out any remaining water. Remember, stagnant water is what leads to mold and bacteria. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you empty the tank to avoid water entering the electrical components.
Note: If the base and sides of the water tank feel a little greasy or grimy, it means you waited a bit too long to clean your humidifier. Take note of this and be sure not to wait that long again.
Step 3: While the unit is unplugged, fill the water tank with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of 6% white vinegar and leave it to sit for an hour. Vinegar is a natural cleanser and disinfectant. This solution will loosen any residue that may have gathered on the inside of the reservoir.
Step 4: After leaving the water and vinegar solution for an hour, you can gently agitate the container for several minutes to dislodge any grime. You can use a soft-bristled brush to remove any stubborn grime. Be careful not to spill or splash liquid onto the motor.
Step 5: Hold the reservoir upside down to allow the water and vinegar solution to filter through the nozzle.
Step 6: Once the water and vinegar solution has drained through the nozzle, use a soft cloth soaked in vinegar to wipe the inside of the reservoir and remove all stubborn residue from the sides of the tank.
Step 7: Use a soft cloth soaked in vinegar to clean the outside of the reservoir.
Note: Filters can be rinsed under clear running water and left to air dry. Small washable parts can be left in a tub of vinegar to soak.
Step 8: Rinse everything with fresh water. Don’t rinse the motor or any of the electronics. Allow all the bits and pieces to air dry.
Step 9: Pour white vinegar into the base of the humidifier to fill all the areas that look dirty. Vinegar will loosen the mineral build-up in 15-20 minutes. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove stuck-on mineral deposits. Once done, pour out the vinegar, and let the unit dry.
Step 10: Reassemble the unit. Use the manufacturer’s guide until you know how it all fits back properly.
Here’s a quick video to illustrate how to clean a humidifier that has gotten moldy.
How To Prevent Mold and Mineral Build-Up
Here is a quick summary of things you can do to look after your humidifier and ensure that you and your family are breathing in the purest moisturized air possible:
Replace the water before every use: I run the humidifier in my room at night; the ones in my living room and office are on during the day. Before I use them, after they have been standing, I replace the water. This is especially true for the one in my office after it has been standing for the weekend.
Deep clean every week: If you use your humidifier daily, I recommend that you clean it once a week. It’s the best way to ensure the vapor it produces is mold and bacteria-free.
Use distilled water: Tap water contains minerals. They will be dispersed into the air along with the water vapor. This may result in fine white dust on all the surfaces in the room where the humidifier is being used. Unfortunately, these minerals can also aid in the growth of bacteria because the mineral deposits in the unit are difficult to clean and act as fertile ‘soil’ for bacteria. Most manufacturers recommend the use of distilled water in humidifiers.
Drain, disinfect, and dry before storage: When you’re ready to pack your humidifier away at the end of winter or spring, it’s vital that you drain, disinfect, and dry it before storing it. Any damp areas could get moldy while it’s packed away, and then you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when you’re ready to use it again. Put some silica gel sachets into the unit before you pack it away and store it disassembled so that all the parts can breathe.
Why do I need to clean my humidifier often?
Mold and bacteria grow in damp places and stagnant water. Suppose you don’t change the water and clean the humidifier often. In that case, you risk distributing harmful bacteria into the air that you and your family will then inhale, resulting in ill health.(2)
How often do I need to clean my humidifier?
If you use it daily, replace the water every day, and wash it once a week.
Can I pack my humidifier away when I don’t need it?
Yes, you can; just be sure to drain, disinfect, and dry it before storing. You could put some silica gel sachets into the unit before you pack it away and store it disassembled so that all the parts can breathe.
Can I use tap water in my humidifier?
Essentially you can, but most manufacturers advise the use of distilled water to prevent the build-up of minerals found in tap water.