Modern air humidifier on table at home

A Complete Guide To Deep Cleaning Your Humidifier In 3 Steps

Learn how to properly clean your humidifier. Improve the functionality of this machine.

January 06, 2022

Some household tasks are intuitive, like wiping down counters or organizing drawers. Others, like deep cleaning a humidifier, require help. That’s why we’re showing you the best way to clean a humidifier. In just three easy steps, you’ll remove buildup, mineral deposits, mold, and bacteria.

A dirty, moldy machine will just pump gunky air into your house, thwarting the benefits a dehumidifier should provide. Breathe the best air possible by regularly cleaning this machine. And, before jumping in, check the manufacturer’s instructions for additional tips and guidance on how to clean the particular type of humidifier you have.

How to clean a humidifier

1. Get prepared: Unplug the machine from the wall and dump out any water left in the receptacle. Never try cleaning any electronics connected to power.

2. Disinfect the machine: Many people want to know how to disinfect a humidifier or how to clean a humidifier with vinegar, and the answer is the same. A one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water makes the perfect disinfectant for the machine. Leave 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white vinegar sitting in the unit’s base for an hour. 

Then, move on to the receptacle itself. You’ll also use vinegar to clean this part of the machine, but don’t dilute the liquid this time. Shake the vinegar around inside the machine to loosen up the grime and mineral buildup for a few minutes, then drain the liquid from the receptacle by turning it upside down and letting the vinegar drip out through the nozzle. Repeat this process with plain water to remove any vinegar from the machine. We don’t want to propel traces of vinegar around your room, either.  

3. Dry the machine: Let the unit air-dry for a while, and then use a soft microfiber cloth to pick up any excess moisture. A dry machine breeds far less bacteria than a wet one.


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How to clean humidifier mold:

The vinegar method shown above should do a good job of freeing grime and mold from the surfaces of the machine, but if you have a dirtier job on your hands, you can clean out the interior by scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush. Prevent new mold from growing by letting the machine dry out completely before putting it back together. Check out our next tip on using hydrogen peroxide to prevent mold growth.  

How to clean humidifier with hydrogen peroxide:

You can use hydrogen peroxide, much like vinegar, to clean the base of your machine. Follow the same steps as those given for vinegar above. Keep the machine clean with hydrogen peroxide by putting a few drops of the substance into the water reservoir.

What can I put in my humidifier to kill bacteria?

Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are both great options for killing bacteria. You can also use diluted bleach. Before we explain this method, remember that you must never use bleach in conjunction with vinegar. This combination can generate dangerous chlorine gas. Also, ensure good ventilation whenever working with bleach. 

Dilute 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water and pour some solution into the water tank. Swish the tank around to coat all of the sides. Let the bleach solution drain into the reservoir and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the bleach. Finally, rinse the machine with clean water until it no longer smells like bleach, and let the unit dry completely before using. 

How often should I clean my humidifier?

Ideally, you should clean your humidifier every week, so slip this activity into your Sunday night routine. Regular cleaning will keep your machine running well and protect you from mold that would potentially be getting dispersed into the air of your room. 

What’s the easiest humidifier to clean? 

Many easy-to-clean humidifiers are on the market, and you can help narrow the selection of which one is best for you by looking for a few key factors. First, look for a machine that can be taken completely apart. This way, you can thoroughly wash and disinfect all of the pieces separately. Secondly, look for units with wide, easy-to-fill mouths for water or the cleaning solution of your choice. Finally, try finding a dishwasher-safe machine that you can disassemble and run through a sanitizing cycle in the appliance.

Can I put essential oils in my humidifier? 

If you’re looking for a way to introduce a pleasant aroma into your sleep setting, the answer isn’t putting essential oils in your humidifier. While some machines are intended as diffusers, most cool mist humidifiers aren’t built to handle oil. Essential oils can damage the machine or clog the filter, so let the humidifier prevent dry air and leave the scent work up to a true diffuser or relaxing linen spray.


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