Do You Really Need to Clean Your Humidifier? Yes and Here’s How.

If your humidifier has become your best friend this winter, odds are it’s in need of a good clean. You might be thinking “all I put in there is water.” Well all that water is the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Once that water vaporizes into the air, you risk the chance of inhaling these nasty microorganisms. You can prevent this from happening by cleaning your humidifier on a regular basis. 

There are many tutorials that teach you how to clean your humidifier floating around the internet, but I caution against using ones that advocate for the use of harsh chemicals like bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These cleaning agents are toxic and have been linked to breathing problems like asthma. If you clean with them, you run the risk of inhaling residue from these chemicals when you later use your humidifier.  

In this blog post, I’m going to teach you how I clean my ultrasonic humidifier using safe ingredients that can be found in your home—warm water and vinegar. It’s super easy to clean your humidifier and should only take you 20 minutes of active time. Let’s get started!

How to clean a humidifier with water and vinegar.

Cleaning Materials

How to Clean a Humidifier with Vinegar

1. Turn off your humidifier

Unplug your humidifier and pour out any water that was left in the tank. NOTE: If you are cleaning an evaporative humidifier, you will first need to remove and clean your filter!

2. How to clean a humidifier tank

Pour two to three cups of distilled white vinegar into your water tank and swish it around so that you completely coat the inside of the tank. The vinegar acts as a natural cleaner, loosening any mineral buildup and killing any microorganism that might be living in the bottom of your humidifier tank. Let the vinegar sit in your tank for 1 hour

3. How to clean a humidifier base

Place your water tank filled with vinegar onto the base of your humidifier. Allow the vinegar to drain from the tank into the base for 15-20 minutes.

4. Scrub your humidifier

Once time is up, inspect your humidifier. If there is grime in the bottom of either the tank or the base, use the remaining vinegar and your scrub brush/ sponge to remove it.

5. How to clean the outside of a humidifier

Dip your sponge in new distilled white vinegar and use it to wipe the outside surface of your humidifier as well as any smaller parts (knobs, dials, buttons, tank cap, etc).

6. Rinse well

Rinse all parts thoroughly with water and allow to air dry. After your humidifier has dried completely, you can reassemble it and it is now ready for use!

How do You Remove Calcium Out of a Humidifier?

How to Remove Calcium Out of a Humidifier?

If you have limescale or mineral buildup in the base of your humidifier, distilled white vinegar should do the trick. Follow the steps listed above, but allow your humidifier base to soak in vinegar for a longer period of time, say 4 to 5 hours. After time is up, the vinegar should have loosened the buildup enough to scrape it from the bottom of your humidifier. 

If this is not the case, refill your humidifier base with 2 cups of fresh vinegar and allow it to soak for another 4 to 5 hours. Repeat if needed. The vinegar should remove most of the crusty buildup and leave your humidifier looking as good as new.

How to Clean a Humidifier Filter

1. Remove your humidifier’s filter

If your humidifier has a wick filter, make sure to remove it before cleaning. 

Vacuum or brush your dry filter to help remove any loose mineral buildup, dirt and dust. If your filter is damp or wet just skip this step.

2. Soak the filter

In a large bucket, combine one gallon of water with one cup of distilled white vinegar. Place your filter into the bucket and allow it to soak for 20 minutes to loosen mineral scale and other buildup.

TIP: Swish the filter around in the bucket to speed up this process!

3. Rinse and dry

Remove your filter from the bucket and rinse several times using cold water. Place your filter on a clean towel and allow it to dry completely. Once your filter is bone dry, you can put it back into your humidifier for use.

TIP: You might want to speed up the drying process but whatever you do, don’t apply heat to your filter. This can damage your filter and render it unusable.

You should clean your humidifier at least once a month.

How Often Should I Clean My Humidifier?

The consensus is that you should clean your humidifier after you’ve used it for a couple of months, or after having not used it for a while. 

It’s really important that you make sure no water is sitting in your humidifier tank when the appliance is not being used. Standing water can grow mold and other microorganisms that you don’t want to be inhaling. If you’ve left water in your humidifier for over one day, you should probably give it a clean before use. 

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