When and How to Clean Your Humidifier

Got a humidifier? Take care of it. Learn how to clean your humidifier to keep it in peak condition.

Your humidifier can get germy and grubby. Here's how to know when to clean it.

Waking up to stiff skin and a stuffed nose is never a good time. Living in the driest area of the continental U.S., I take my humidifying pretty seriously. After all, a humidifier helps to alleviate these symptoms by adding a bit of moisture to my bedroom. Owning a humidifier requires a certain level of maintenance, though. It is important to know how and when to clean your humidifier.

Why is it important to maintain your humidifier?

Especially if you invest in a more expensive humidifier, you want to make sure that you are taking care of the device correctly so that it works properly and lasts a long time. You bought the humidifier to help resolve symptoms, but that won’t happen if the unit isn’t working properly. Just like any other appliance or product, if you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you.

More importantly, however, is that by not keeping your humidifier clean, you run the risk of spreading harmful germs, mold and bacteria into the air that you and your family breathe everyday. Stagnant water that sits over time creates bacteria, and without properly disinfecting and cleaning the unit, that bacteria-filled water will be released into the air when you turn the device on.

So with bad air quality, those symptoms that you were wanting to get rid of in the first place will likely worsen and you could experience many more negative health symptoms such as asthma, lung inflammation, anxiety, and even respiratory infections.

When should you clean your humidifier?

Your humidifier will be most efficient when it is deep cleaned once a week, assuming that it is being used on a regular basis. It is also recommended that you rinse out the water basin before every use. Replace any stagnant water before you turn on your humidifier for the day. If you use your device seasonally, you will want to deep clean it at the beginning and end of the season, being sure to thoroughly dry it before you store it away. Drying any dampness out of the basin will ensure that no mold develops while it is being stored.

What will you need to use to clean your humidifier?

The only supplies you will need to use to properly clean your humidifier are common household essentials that you likely already have on hand.

  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Sponge or brush
  • Hand towel
  • Water to rinse with

How to properly clean your humidifier

Although many humidifiers are different, most will have a water tank attached to a base. If your humidifier has additional parts, then you can most likely clean them the same way, however, check in your user manual for any particular cleaning instructions. You should also take note of any warning signs stated in the manual and of course avoid any electrical parts of the unit while cleaning.

Step 1:  Unplug your humidifier and completely disassemble it. Empty the water tank and set any filters to the side. Filters can be cleaned by simply rinsing them with water and laying them out to dry. Change the filter in accordance with the user manual.

Step 2: Fill the base of the unit with white vinegar, making sure that any areas that usually contain water are being covered. Other parts and pieces can be placed in a bowl of vinegar and left to soak. Let everything soak for about 30 minutes, allowing any buildup to be broken down. Then, use a sponge or brush to scrub away and residue.

Step 3: While the base and spare parts are soaking in the vinegar, mix about a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with water and fill the water tank about halfway. Make sure the water coats the entire inside of the tank by swirling it around. Let the mixture sit for about a half hour.

Step 4: Rinse the base, tank and other parts thoroughly with tap water until any cleaning odors are gone. Shake any extra water from the parts and lay them out to dry on your towel.

Step 5: After everything has completely dried, you can put it back together again and use the humidifier as you please.

Use Distilled Water

It is highly recommended to use distilled water when filling the tank of your humidifier. If you use tap water the minerals that are in the water are released into the air with the water vapor. The minerals create white dust that can cover your furniture and surfaces in the room the humidifier is being used in. The minerals also cause more bacteria to grow.

It is worth your time and effort to avoid these risks by taking a few minutes to clean the humidifier before turning it on. You will experience a higher air quality which will decrease your symptoms and allow you to breathe freely.

Resources— Allergy & AirGood Housekeeping

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