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How To Clean A Humidifier

by | Jul 11, 2021 | Cleaning Tips

There are many ways to seek relief from dry weather, but a humidifier is one of the best. It’s also great for improving the air quality, especially for those of us who suffer from hay fever. In fact, a humidifier does many things, from alleviating dry skin to preventing static build-up.

But like all appliances in our home, it’s important to keep your humidifier clean so it can do its job properly. In fact, given that its purpose is to benefit our health, it’s especially important to keep it spotless. Thankfully, it’s very straightforward to clean a humidifier. You’ll need white vinegar, bleach or hydrogen peroxide, and some protective equipment — and a little elbow grease.

To keep your humidifier running for many years to come, here’s how to clean a humidifier the easy way. This way, you’ll breathe nice and easy all winter!



About Humidifiers And Why Use Them

Modern air humidifier on table indoors.

The purpose of a humidifier is in its name — it adds humidity to the air. The little gadget evaporates water and releases it either as cool mist or warm steam. This can be exceptionally beneficial during dry months like winter, since the weather can dry out your skin and cause chapped lips. It’s also great for deterring common illnesses like colds and sore throats, which can be caused by too-dry air.

Static electricity also builds when there is little moisture in the air, so a humidifier helps you avoid frizz and static shocks.

Moreover, for those of us who suffer from hay fever and other chronic respiratory ailments, a humidifier can improve the air quality of your home. And lastly, higher humidity makes your home feel warmer, so no need to turn up the heater so much!

In short, a humidifier helps keep the air in your house clean for you to breathe. Of course, that doesn’t excuse you from cleaning the rest of your home on the regular (or getting a home cleaning service to do it for you).



Why Clean A Humidifier?

Ironically, the appliance that benefits your health can also be detrimental to it. If the filter or water tank is dirty, you could risk your humidifier pumping bacteria and other dangerous particles into the air — not what you want. The interior mechanisms of a humidifier are also prime spaces for mould and mildew to thrive, or for dust to collect. These hazards are then released into the air with the steam, creating a health risk.

If you regularly clean your humidifier, you’ll also help maintain it. Otherwise, dirt and mould build-up will eventually cause your humidifier to deteriorate and stop functioning properly.



How To Clean A Humidifier

To keep your humidifier clean and working, you’ll need a few household essentials, including:

  • White vinegar
  • Bleach or hydrogen peroxide
  • Old toothbrush (or similar soft bristled brush)
  • Water
  • Microfibre cloths (or other clean soft cloths)
  • Protective equipment like gloves and goggles


There are several types of machines, such as a cool mist humidifier or a warm steam one. Still, most will have a standard water tank, wick filter, and operating base. Avoid getting any electronic parts and panels wet and you should be fine!

Also, always make sure to consult your humidifier manufacturer manual for any particular cleaning instructions.





Cleaning a humidifier

To clean your humidifier for regular use, you’ll need white vinegar, an old toothbrush, water, and a microfibre cloth. You can also add some lemon juice to help cut the vinegar odour!

  1. Unplug and empty the humidifier, and disassemble it as per instructions. If your model has an air or wick filter, remove it and set it aside.
  2. Fill the tank of the humidifier with vinegar, so that it covers all areas where water reaches in use. You can also use a mix of vinegar and water. Check what your brand recommends!
  3. Place the humidifier on the base and let it drain into the reservoir. This will help loosen mineral build-up besides cleaning the surfaces.
  4. Let the vinegar sit for 15–30 minutes.
  5. Take your old toothbrush and scrub at the inside. This will remove any dirt and deposits, and clean any grime stuck in crevices. Make sure to be thorough!
  6. Smaller parts like caps can be wiped with a soft cloth dipped in white vinegar.
  7. Rinse all the parts and let air dry before reassembling!
  8. Certain air filters can be rinsed with cool water, but don’t try to clean a wick filter! You could damage the material or remove the antimicrobial coating. Instead, if it’s dirty, just replace it.



Disinfecting your humidifier

For a deeper clean and disinfection of a humidifier, take bleach or hydrogen peroxide and water. Be sure to wear protective equipment like gloves and goggles while doing this, and work somewhere well-ventilated.

  1. Make a cleaning mixture by adding 1 tsp bleach to 4 litres of water. You can substitute the bleach with 3% hydrogen peroxide if you prefer.
  2. Fill the tank at least halfway, then swish the mixture around to cover all areas.
  3. As with the vinegar cleaning solution, place the tank in the base and let it drain into the reservoir. Let the mixture stand for 15–30 minutes.
  4. Empty the bleach solution from all parts and rinse thoroughly. You can run the parts under water until the bleach or peroxide scent is gone.
  5. Wipe dry and leave the parts on some towels to let the scent dissipate. Reassemble afterwards. Then it’s ready to use again!



Humidifier Maintenance Tips

Ultrasonic cool mist humidifier for home on a small table in living room closeup

Besides cleaning it, here are some tips to help maintain your humidifier so it works properly all throughout winter — or whenever it is you need to use it!


Empty between uses

If the humidifier won’t be in use, empty the water tank and reservoir. This will prevent bacteria and mildew from building up inside.


Rinse before turning on

First thing before turning on your humidifier, rinse out the water tank. You can use a little vinegar or lemon juice for a quick disinfectant, too!


Use clean water

Distilled or filtered water is the most recommended for humidifiers, since tap water may contain unwanted particles. Hard water could also cause limescale and mineral build-up inside your machine.


Maintain your filter

For an air filter, rinse it when you disassemble your humidifier for cleaning. Use cool running water, handle carefully, and let it air dry when finished.

For a wick filter, regularly turn it over when you fill the water tank so it doesn’t dry out. This also helps it age more evenly. You’ll also need to replace the filter every one to two months depending on its condition. If there’s a mineral crust or any sort of odour, change it sooner.


Sanitise regularly

Try and clean your humidifier thoroughly at least once a week — or once every two weeks. This ensures the air quality is always fresh, and not compromised by mould or bacteria. Disinfect at least once a month, if not more frequently. Remember, your health is worth the effort!


Drain before storage

If you’re putting your humidifier away for the season, give it a thorough deep clean and let it air dry completely before storing. Any damp areas will risk mould and mildew growing while it’s in storage.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.