WHEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR HUMIDIFIER?

WHEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR HUMIDIFIER?
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Why You Should Clean Your Humidifier

When was the last time you cleaned your humidifier? Maybe you clean it 1-2 times a month. Or once a week. Maybe you got it fairly recently and you haven’t cleaned it since you started using it. And even if you’re one of those people that clean it everyday just in case, you might wonder to yourself if that’s too much.

No matter what your cleaning habits are, you probably don’t like the thought of cleaning your humidifier. You have all of these little pieces to take apart. The tank is big and bulky. It hardly fits into your sink. And it just seems to take way too much of your time. It’s just water in there, right? How badly do you really even need to clean it?

The truth is, keeping your humidifier clean isn’t just for following a manufacturer recommendation in the manual. It’s critically important for your health and well-being. You’re probably using a humidifier for health reasons range from skincare to addressing chronic breathing issues. Humidifiers also prevent health issues that can come from dust mites. And if you don’t clean your humidifier properly and regularly, you’re putting your health at even more risk.


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First, the damp corners of your humidifier are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and viruses. They linger and grow, and your humidifier spews them into the air. Harmful mold spores and bacteria love to reside in your lungs and spread. The wrong type of mold can be fatal if you don’t go to the hospital early enough.

Even if mildew, mold, and bacteria don’t end up in your lungs, harmful growth in your humidifier makes your home more likely to have these sorts of issues, especially if you’re humidifying your home.

If you don’t clean your humidifier often enough, you might be scared to find out what can grow in your humidifier. Take care of your humidifier, and it will take care of you.

Quick Maintenance Tips

  • Rinse your humidifier daily, and give it a thorough cleaning every week
    • Use vinegar and bleach to deep clean your humidifier at least once a week
  • Rinse out your humidifier and let it dry if you’re not using it
    • If your tank runs empty, drain out the excessive water and let it dry out until you get a chance to clean it
    • A dry humidifier helps fight bacteria and mold from taking hold in your humidifier while you’re not using

How Often Should You Clean Your Humidifier?

Now, the answer to the big question. How often should you clean the humidifier? As often as you need to. But generally, a deep, thorough cleaning once a week should be enough. Refer to your humidifier’s instruction manual for any other recommendations. You should also rinse your humidifier everyday or rinse it out to dry when it’s not in use. If you leave your humidifier on overnight and keep it off during the day, you should rinse out your humidifier and leave it out to dry completely. Keeping your humidifier dry will help fight mold and bacteria growth.

How to Clean Your Humidifier

To prepare for cleaning your humidifier, gather the following supplies. Each of these play an important role in keep your humidifier clean and protecting your health.

  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Brush
  • Warm and cool water


(image from https://learn.allergyandair.com/how-to-clean-a-humidifier/)

Vinegar – If you’re using hard water filled with a lot of minerals, you’re probably seeing a lot of calcium deposits in your humidifier. As your humidifier runs and water dries on the surfaces of your humidifier, mineral deposits will gather on those surfaces. You also want to be sure that you avoid too much calcium from building up on your vaporizer or sonic humidifier elements. Vinegar does the trick to get those stubborn deposits out. For even better results, use warm vinegar. It helps dissolve things like calcium even better.

Bleach – The biggest reason you need to clean your humidifier is to prevent bacteria or mold growth. Bleach is going to help you kill any bacteria or mold that’s beginning to take hold in your humidifier. Do not use warm water with your bleach solution. The active ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, can degrade in high heat. Follow the instructions for your humidifier manual for any details about preparing a bleach solution. If you don’t have instructions, use 1 tbsp in a gallon of cool water for sanitizing, which will kill most of the germs on a surface. For heavier cleaning, use as much as a ¼ cup for each gallon of water.

Brush – Opt for a soft bristle brush if you can to protect your humidifier parts. You can go for a stiffer brushes if you have some really stubborn parts to clean. Use any brush that will help you reach all the parts of your humidifier and tank.

Warm and cool water – Generally, you want to avoid very hot water because it could damage sensitive parts of your humidifier. Warm water works best for making diluted vinegar solutions, and cool water is best for your bleach solutions.

Humidifier Cleaning Guide

Now that you have your supplies, follow this guideline for cleaning your humidifier. As always, follow your instruction manual if you have it, but if you can’t get a hold of it, here’s what you can do:

Rinse Daily

  1. Prepare your humidifier – Unplug your humidifier. Never wash or rinse a humidifier that’s still plugged in.
  2. Disassemble your humidifier – Disassemble your humidifier and remove the tank. Your humidifier may not come apart. If that’s the case, follow your instruction manual on how to clean your humidifier.
  3. Rinse with warm water – Give your humidifier a thorough rinse with warm water. Warm water will help you take off anything you not be able to with cold water. Many things dissolve better in warm water.
  4. Rinse with cold water – Give your humidifier one last rinse with cold water.
  5. Dry – Drain all of the parts of your humidifier and leave it out to dry.


(image from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-clean-a-humidifier-apartment-therapy-tutorial-109395)

Clean Weekly

  1. Prepare your humidifier – Repeat step 1 from above
  2. Disassemble your humidifier – Repeat step 2 from above
  3. Soak in vinegar – Take any part of your humidifier that has calcium deposits or would be susceptible to calcium deposits and soak in warm vinegar only. Again, read your instruction manual for any special care tips for your humidifier. If you have dried calcium on the outside of any surfaces, you can soak a towel in warm vinegar and lay it over the surface. Soak for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight as needed.
  4. Rinse in dilute vinegar – Using a half and half solution of warm vinegar and water, wash your humidifier. Use a soft brush to scrub the surfaces of your humidifier. Afterwards, you can give your humidifier a rinse in cool water before the next step.
  5. Sanitize with bleach – Mix a bleach solution to the strength you need for your humidifier. If you are cleaning visible mold, it’s best to use a full-strength disinfectant at ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of cool water. If your humidifier is fairly clean, you can use just 1 tbsp of bleach instead. Thoroughly submerge or wipe your humidifier with the bleach solution. You need at least 2 minutes of contact with the solution to kill any bacteria or mold spores. Set your humidifier out to
  6. Rinse thoroughly and dry – After sanitizing your humidifier, be sure to rinse your humidifier thoroughly with cool water. Rinse multiple times to be sure and then set your humidifier out to dry thoroughly before the next use.

Once you’ve cleaned your humidifier, you’re ready for another week of all the benefits of humidifying your home. See these next articles for more information on how to humidify your home.

Read More About Humidifiers

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