How to clean a humidifier

A dirty humidifier can breed mold. Here's how to clean yours

For people who live in dry climates or have sinus problems, humidifiers are a godsend. But to get the best out of your appliance, you’re going to have to clean it often, even if it’s a top-tier humidifier. Keeping your humidifier clean is not only important for its performance, it’s also important for your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a dirty humidifier can actually be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, and your machine can even make you sick if it’s not properly maintained.

Learning how to clean a humidifier can seem intimidating, but after you learn the steps, you’ll be breathing easy no time.

Note: This is a general outline on how to clean your humidifier. If you have your humidifier’s owners’ manual, refer to it before you attempt to clean it.

How to clean your humidifier, step by step

Dorm room appliances Mistaire humidifier person

Before you get started, get the supplies you’ll need to clean your humidifier. You won’t need any heavy duty tools, just a few household items.

What you’ll need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Bleach or peroxide (optional)

Step 1: Unplug your humidifier. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t want to damage it (or yourself) then you’ll want to make sure it’s unplugged.

Step 2: Clean the filter. Go ahead and remove the humidifier’s air filter. If your filter looks dirty, clean it with cool clean water. After the filter is completely clean, allow it to sit and fully dry on a clean towel.

Step 3: Disassemble the unit. After you take off the filter, remove the water tank. Some of the best humidifiers available don’t allow you to take apart the water tank and the base. Don’t force these parts to come apart. Only take apart what your specific model of humidifier allows.

Step 4: Clean the base and tank. Fill the base and/or tank with white vinegar. After it’s filled, let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. After the time elapses, pour out the vinegar and use a toothbrush to brush away any grime that’s still stuck on your humidifier. If it doesn’t seem to be coming off, pour some vinegar directly onto your brush and scrub the grime-covered spots.

Step 5: Clean the remaining parts. Use a cloth soaked in vinegar and water to wipe the machine’s exterior and the remaining parts. This will help to further reduce dust, mold, and bacterial growth.

Step 6: Rinse the machine thoroughly. Once you clean all the grime from the machine, you’ll notice your humidifier still smells vinegary. To get rid of the smell, thoroughly rinse your base and tank with warm water (you may have to rinse it multiple times), and then let it air dry completely.

Tips to keep your humidifier clean

how to clean a humidifier taotronics ultrasonic cool mist thumb
  • Fill your humidifier with distilled water. Distilled water has fewer minerals, which means there’s less grime in your humidifier (it also produces fewer bacteria in the air).
  • Change the water regularly.
  • Let your machine dry completely before storing it.
  •  You can use a water-bleach mixture (one gallon of water mixed with one teaspoon of bleach) or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your humidifier’s tank as well.

How often should I clean my humidifier?

You wouldn’t drink from a cup without rinsing it first, right? Well, the same applies to your humidifier. You should rinse your humidifier’s tank out before each use. How often should you deep clean your machine? That depends on how often you use it. If you need to use your humidifier all day, every day, then you should deep clean it once per week. If you only use it at night or sporadically during dry seasons, then clean it at least once a month. It’s also a good idea to replace your humidifier every three to five years.

Deals

The best Presidents’ Day vacuum deals: Roomba, Dyson, and Bissell

Amazon and Walmart are offering pretty substantial savings to help kick-start your spring cleaning. Top brands like Roomba, Dyson, and Bissell are dropping prices left and right for Presidents' Day.
Gaming

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Smart Home

Clean up with these Presidents’ Day sales on washers and dryers

Clean up with these Presidents' Day weekend sales on washers and dryers. We picked the top washers and dryers from six major online merchants, but there are many more choices. Altogether the six sites have 920 washers and dryers on sale.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Smart Home

Researchers are once again trying to science the gluten out of bread

If you've ever found gluten tough to stomach, help may be on the way. Researchers and farmers are exploring solutions that include gene-edited bread, as well as alterations to carbs and fiber.
Smart Home

Frigidaire goes for ‘wow’ factor with new Gallery ranges, fridges, and more

Electrolux's Frigidaire brand is going all out at KBIS 2019. The appliance manufacturer's introductions this year include new ranges with gas, electric, or induction heating; a new refrigerator; and a new dishwasher in its Gallery line.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Convert Review: A simple route to a smart lock

While it lacks the features and overall value of the August Smart Lock, Kwikset’s Kevo Convert offers a simple and friendly route to upgrade your front door’s deadbolt. Learn more in our full review.
Smart Home

Say so long to silver. Samsung brings new colors to household appliances

Samsung introduced two new appliance colors, Tuscan Stainless will be available for several kitchen appliances starting in May and for the Family Hub in August. New Samsung washers and dryers will be offered in Champagne Finish.
Deals

Instant Pot prices have dropped on these 5 models by up to $30

Whether you're an Instant Pot beginner or Instant Pot veteran these popular multi-cookers are worth the hype. There are so many Instant Pot models on sale right now, it might be hard to choose. We've rounded up all the deals here so you can…
Smart Home

Qualcomm goes all-in on Amazon Alexa voice control with a new development kit

Qualcomm is releasing an early valentine for smart home device manufacturers. The new development kit for its Wi-Fi networks integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service to enable voice control in more devices.
Smart Home

Miele stuns KBIS 2019 with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and more

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.
Smart Home

Amazon’s wall clock is back on the market after Bluetooth snafus

Amazon's Alexa-enabled Wall Clock was a minor disaster when it was finally released in December because of widespread Bluetooth connectivity challenges. After some tweaks, it's now back on sale for $30.
Smart Home

The Nest Secure included a microphone no one knew about — except Google

The Nest Secure home security system has had a microphone this entire time that no one knew about, except Google. The company claims the mic was never turned on, but customers are outraged.
Mobile

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.