Avoid Bacteria Growth With These Easy Steps for Cleaning a Humidifier


Humidifiers are commonly used in winter months to add moisture to the air. They can be a great way to stay healthy in cold, dry winter months. However, they can also make you very sick if you don’t clean them regularly. The combination of sitting water and the intricate crevices in a humidifier can cause bacteria to grow very quickly.

How to Clean a Humidifier (pixabay)
How to Clean a Humidifier (pixabay)

Without proper cleaning, you will unknowingly be putting harmful bacteria into the air. This can make you and your family very sick. Fortunately, there is an easy solution for this. Cleaning a humidifier does not need to be a time-consuming task. If you do it regularly, you can avoid the build-up of bacteria, mineral deposits, and more. Below is a step-by-step tutorial on cleaning a humidifier to keep your family healthy and happy! 

Cleaning a Humidifier (Anna M)
Cleaning a Humidifier (Anna M)

See post: Anna M|How to Clean a Humidifier


Easy to Clean Humidifiers

Before we delve into a step-by-step tutorial for cleaning your humidifier, let’s take a moment to review some basics. You should empty out and refill your humidifier daily. This is important so that you always start with fresh water and don’t let water sit in your humidifier for days (or weeks!). You should clean a humidifier once a week but if you forget a week, do not worry, especially if you are changing the water daily. Skipping one week of deep cleaning will not significantly impact the cleanliness of your humidifier. Follow the below steps for cleaning your humidifier to keep it sparkly clean!


1) Remove the tank and empty the water out of the humidifier

Simply empty out the water from the tank and base to prepare the humidifier for cleaning. If you haven’t cleaned your humidifier in a while, you might see some unsightly discoloration or mineral deposits. Don’t panic. These next few steps will help you get rid of them.

Easy to Clean Humidifier (Anna M)
Easy to Clean Humidifier (Anna M)

See post: Anna M|How to Clean a Humidifier


2) Put a few cups of vinegar into the tank, filling it just a few inches

Vinegar is a great cleaning solution. It is very acidic, which means it does a great job of removing stains and built-up material like mineral deposits. Vinegar is perfect for cleaning a humidifier. When you put vinegar into your humidifier, you don’t have to be exact with the quantity. Just a few cups of vinegar will be fine for sufficient cleaning.

Cleaning a Humidifier with Vinegar (pixabay)
Cleaning a Humidifier with Vinegar (pixabay)

3) Run the humidifier outside for about 30 minutes

You’ll want to ensure that you run the humidifier outside so that your whole house doesn’t smell like vinegar and you don’t breathe in the vinegar vapors. Running vinegar through the entire humidifier will ensure that every part of the humidifier is cleaned. However, if you cannot run it outside, there is an alternative. Simply pour vinegar into the base of the humidifier (as well as the tank) and let the vinegar sit in the base and tank for about 30 minutes.

Cleaning a Humidifier Tricks (Mary)
Cleaning a Humidifier Tricks (Mary)

See post: Mary|The Handcrafted Haven


4) Empty the humidifier and scrub with a soft brush or toothbrush as needed

If you regularly clean your humidifier you should not have to scrub it to get it clean at this point. The vinegar should be able to clean it sufficiently. However, if it has been a while since you cleaned it, you might need to scrub a little bit at this step. You should use a soft scrub brush, perhaps even an unused toothbrush, to remove any mineral deposits or stains remaining on the humidifier. For stubborn stains or deposits, pour more vinegar into the humidifier and let it sit another 30 minutes. Repeat scrubbing as needed.

Deep Cleaning a Humidifier (pixabay)
Deep Cleaning a Humidifier (pixabay)

5) Fill the humidifier with water and run outside for 30 minutes

Once again, it’s very important to run the humidifier outside for this step. This will help to avoid your house smelling like vinegar. The purpose of this run cycle is to remove any remaining vinegar from your humidifier. Once again, if you cannot run your humidifier outside, simply rinse the tank and base with water. This will remove all of the vinegar if you never ran vinegar through the entire humidifier in the first place.

Humidifier (Adobe)
Humidifier (Adobe)

6) Empty the humidifier

Lastly, simply empty the humidifier and you will have a sparkly clean humidifier for you and your family to use.

Empty Humidifier (Adobe)
Empty Humidifier (Adobe)

How to Clean Humidifier Filters

For various reasons, your humidifier might have a filter. If this is the case, you should take special care when cleaning this filter. Of course, you always have the option of buying a new filter when your current filter gets really dirty, but you won’t want to be doing that weekly. Fortunately, there is an easy way to clean a humidifier filter. You have probably already guessed that vinegar is the key here too!

How to Clean Humidifier Filters (Adobe)
How to Clean Humidifier Filters (Adobe)

1) Remove the filter and place it in a sink or bowl of vinegar

Filters can come in many shapes and sizes. Oftentimes they are circular and flexible. Refer to your humidifier’s user manual if you are unsure about how to identify your filter. Remove the filter from your humidifier and place it in the sink or a bowl of vinegar. If you don’t have enough vinegar to fully submerge the filter, feel free to add water. Do not exceed a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. If the solution is more than 50% water, the cleaning will not be as effective. Let the filter sit in the vinegar for at least 30 minutes.

Cleaning a Filter with Vinegar (pixabay)
Cleaning a Filter with Vinegar (pixabay)

2) Rinse out the filter and allow it to air dry before placing it back in the humidifier

Thoroughly rinse out the filter, ensuring that all the vinegar is out of it. If you still see mineral deposits left in it, feel free to let it sit in the vinegar for 30 more minutes. This will help remove more deposits. After rinsing thoroughly, lightly squeeze the filter to remove excess water. Be careful not to damage the filter. Avoid ringing out the filter or using a lot of force when squeezing it. Allow the filter to air dry before placing it back in the humidifier.

Humidifier Filter (Mary)
Humidifier Filter (Mary)

See post: Mary|The Handcrafted Haven


You should now know how to keep a humidifier clean, whether it has a filter or not. You can clean your humidifier using simple household products including vinegar and a soft scrub brush or toothbrush. Although it takes some time to clean a humidifier, especially if you are doing it weekly as recommended, it is well worth it. Cleaning your humidifier will eliminate the growth of harmful bacteria. Cleaning it will also ensure that mineral deposits do not get a chance to build up and negatively impact the performance of your humidifier. Overall, getting in the habit of cleaning your humidifier will help keep you and your family healthy. Refer back to this tutorial as needed and share it with family and friends to help keep everyone healthy and happy!


Written for the Hometalk community by: Mary | The Handcrafted Haven

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