How To Clean A Humidifier | Cool, Warm Mist and Vicks

how to clean a humidifier

During the dry months of winter, many homeowners would consider a humidifier to be a miracle machine. They’re great for reducing airborne illnesses and eliminating the discomfort of dry skin.

The problem is that most people don’t know how often they should be cleaning their humidifier, and they also might not know how.



The good news – it’s much easier than you might think. We’re going to be cleaning it with some natural, effective cleaners.

Before we start, you’ll need:

  • Tea tree oil or bleach
  • Bottle brush
  • Tap water
  • White vinegar

First, you’ll want to pour out the remaining water inside of your humidifier. Once the water is gone, take apart the machine.

You’ll find that most humidifiers are equipped with a latch or similar that allows you to remove the piece that sits over the heating element.

Once you’ve taken everything apart, it will be easy to see what pieces need the most cleaning. If possible, always skim through the manual to make you don’t damage the machine.

You’ll find that vinegar is extremely helpful while cleaning. It actually eliminates the need for bleach, but if you want that extra cleaning feeling, then you can use bleach.

Go ahead and add vinegar to the base and water tank. To remove stubborn deposits, soak the dirtiest parts in a container with a vinegar/water mixture.

In some cases, you might actually be able to put your humidifier parts straight into your washer.

Use the Brush

If your unit didn’t come with one, you might want to find a bottle brush to use. The brush is perfect for removing deposits. You should be able to use just the brush and vinegar to get the job done.

If your unit is REALLY dirty, consider soaking it before using the brush. It’s a good idea to soak it for at least 30 minutes.

The Rinse

After you feel that it’s been cleaned thoroughly and most of the deposits have been removed, you can rinse it with tap water.

Make sure to shake the pieces really well to ensure hidden deposits are removed. Understand that it can take some time for the vinegar smell to completely go away, but once it does, the unit will smell fresh and clean.

If there are some really dirty, tough spots on the pieces, you might need to soak them a few times. When you see the deposits fizzing, then that means the vinegar is doing what it’s supposed to do.

It will break down and tear away the gunk. Some people like to use sharp objects to scrape the gunk away, but it’s almost always better to let the vinegar break down the deposits.

What about maintenance?

Once your humidifier has been properly cleaned, you’ll want to make sure it’s given adequate maintenance. One of the most important forms of maintenance involves preventing bacterial growth.

You’ll want to change the water often. When you allow water to sit in the unit’s tank for long periods of time, it allows mineral deposits to form.

Larger mineral deposits will form over a longer period of time. You should also consider cleaning the unit at least once every three days when it’s being used extensively.

The good news is that you don’t have to clean it nearly as thoroughly when you’re cleaning it once every three days.

These cleaning sessions should consist of a quick rinse with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, which also disinfect the unit.

A deep clean should be performed about every two weeks when the humidifier is being used heavily, such as during the winter or when a family member has a cold.

Tip: Whenever possible, run distilled water through your humidifier because it has less mineral content, which means less cleaning for you!

Bleach also works very well as a disinfectant. Use about one teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of water. It’s recommended that you disinfect the unit after you’ve cleaned it thoroughly.

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