How to Clean a Humidifier

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Humidifiers moisten the air and are a great way to keep the air clean and healthy. They are often recommended to help babies fight congestion and protect their delicate skin.

But humidifiers need to be maintained and kept clean to provide healthy air quality, in a nursery, or any room in your home. Today we’ll learn how to clean a humidifier.

How Often Should You Clean a Humidifier?

A dirty humidifier can be a health risk, particularly to babies and young children. The moist air of a humidifier can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and harmful microorganisms, that are then aerosolized and sent into the air you breathe.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a safety alert against the use of dirty humidifiers because of potential health risks. People with allergies, asthma, and breathing issues should either avoid humidifiers altogether or be scrupulous about keeping them clean.

If your humidifier is getting regular, daily use in your home, the EPA has issued guidelines that recommend cleaning humidifiers every third day.

Pediatricians recommend cleaning them even more often when they are used in a nursery. If your humidifier is only used every few days in specific weather, then it may not need to be cleaned as often.

You should also clean your humidifier when:

  • You see visible white dust around the humidifier
  • You see a film, debris, or deposits on the humidifier

Experts recommend that you not allow the humidity of your indoor air to exceed 50%. It’s also important to always use distilled and/or demineralized water in a humidifier, and not use tap water.

How to Clean a Humidifier

Every humidifier is a bit different, and it’s important to follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

Some humidifiers have filters and other parts that need to be regularly replaced, and some have components that are dishwasher safe.

Here is a general overview of how to clean a humidifier.

How to Clean a Humidifier: Quick Cleaning

As a general rule, you can do a quick cleaning of a humidifier every second or third day. To do a quick cleaning of your humidifier, you will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • A small soft scrubbing brush
  • A sponge or microfiber cloth

To quickly clean your humidifier, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug your humidifier.
  2. If your humidifier has a filter, remove the filter and rinse it under cold running water. Do not scrub or use cleaning products on the filter.
  3. Remove and empty the water tank.
  4. Fill the tank with 1-2 cups of white vinegar, swirling it around so the entire tank gets coated in vinegar.
  5. Allow the tank to soak in vinegar for at least an hour.
  6. Empty the tank, and use a scrub brush to remove any debris or film in the tank.
  7. Rinse the tank in cold running water.
  8. Use the brush to scrub any other film or debris off the humidifier.
  9. Use a sponge or microfiber cloth dampened with vinegar to wipe down all the parts of the humidifier, inside and outside.

The humidifier may smell like vinegar for a while after this process, but if the tank has been well rinsed, the smell will quickly dissipate

How to Clean a Humidifier

How to Clean a Humidifier: Deep Cleaning

A heavily used humidifier should have a deep cleaning every month. A humidifier that is used seasonally or periodically should be deep cleaned before storage.

To deep clean and disinfect a humidifier, you will need:

  • Replacement filter(s)
  • Bleach (or hydrogen peroxide, if recommended by your manufacturer)
  • A small soft scrubbing brush
  • A sponge or microfiber cloth

To deep clean a humidifier, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the humidifier.
  2. Disassemble the humidifier as much as possible.
  3. Discard the old filter.
  4. Use the scrub brush and cold water to clean the humidifier as much as possible.
  5. Use the sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe the inside and outside of the humidifier.
  6. Mix one gallon of water with one teaspoon of bleach to form a bleach solution.
  7. Pour the bleach solution into the water tank, swirling it to coat the inside of the water tank.
  8. Place the tank back in the humidifier and let it drain into the reservoir.
  9. Let it soak in the bleach solution for 15-20 minutes
  10. Empty the tank and reservoir and rinse with clear cold water until you can no longer smell bleach.
  11. Replace the filter.
  12. Wipe dry.

Never use bleach with any other cleaners, including vinegar, peroxide, or disinfectants and detergents.

Whether using bleach or any other disinfecting cleaner, only use a single product per cleaning, without mixing different cleaning products.


Keeping your humidifier clean during use, and empty and put away when not in use, helps to keep your family’s air moist, healthy, and easy to breathe.

Regularly cleaning a humidifier isn’t difficult, and can make all the difference.

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