Last Updated on February 24, 2023
Humidifiers are great products for caring for you and your family. But they require care and attention to work at their best. Imagine that you have a dirty washing machine and place clothes inside; you wouldn’t expect the garments to come out of the wash looking and smelling clean, would you? The same principle goes for humidifiers.
How to Clean a Humidifier and Remove Mineral Deposits
Use the cleaning suggestions and techniques shown below to quickly and thoroughly clean your humidifier. If you keep your humidifier clean and regularly maintain the unit, you will improve the air quality within the rooms.
Step 1: Unplug Your Humidifier and Disassemble It
Firstly, unplug your humidifier from the wall and disassemble it completely (you may need to check the manual for instructions on how to do this). Then, unlock any removable parts from the humidifier’s base and keep the components separate on a table. If your humidifier comes with an air filter, ensure that you remove this, too. Fortunately, cleaning filters is easy, as you just need to run them under cool water and allow them to air dry.
Step 2: Use White Vinegar
Pour white vinegar into the humidifier’s base and fill all areas that usually come into contact with water. For the smaller components that you put aside earlier, you can place them in white vinegar, too, and allow them to soak for around 30 minutes. In this time process, the white vinegar will break down any build-up.
Follow this step by using a soft brush to remove any stuck-on residue. You may need to purchase an additional brush with thinner bristles to target hard-to-reach areas to prevent any bacteria growth.
Step 3: Clean the Humidifier’s Interior
Leave the water basin to soak for around 90 minutes. Then, using a mixture of 1 tsp of bleach solution and 4.5 litres of water, fill the water tank up to half and stir the solution to ensure that the mixture coats all elements of the humidifier’s interior. You can also use hydrogen peroxide in the tank to deep clean the humidifier.
Step 4: Rinse the Base, Tank, and Remaining Components
Using tap water, rinse the base, tank and remaining components on the machine. You might need to shake the machine to ensure that all parts of the humidifier become socked. It will also give the appliance a chance to grab onto any appliances that have a build-up of water vapour. You might need to repeat this cleaning step several times to get rid of any bad odours in the humidifier. Then, lay all parts out to air dry and use a clean, dry towel to wipe away any remaining residue.
Step 5: Reassemble Your Humidifier
Once everything in the humidifier has been thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to reassemble the appliances and put them together again. Remember to replace the humidifier’s air filter, if applicable. You can also fill the tank with filtered water. Replace the tank cap onto the water tank, plug in the humidifier to a wall and begin using the machine as normal.
Maintenance Tips On How to Care For a Humidifier
To avoid any accumulation of mineral water deposits, it is excellent if you routinely maintain your humidifier. Below are some tips and cleaning solutions for caring for your humidifier.
You likely use your humidifier every day—if not every other day. Therefore, proper cleaning and maintenance are essential to its efficiency and effectiveness. We recommend you do the above cleaning steps once a week. Doing so ensures that you and your family aren’t inhaling any nasties, such as mould spores and bacteria.
Rinse Out the Water Basin After Every Use
Another tip is to remove any standing water that’s been in your humidifier for several days. After all, this will release into the air in your home, which you and your family then breathe in. Instead, removing any cold water that’s been standing inside the machine will eliminate any bacteria that’s been growing inside. You can also disinfect the product, but it’s most important to add fresh water.
Use Distilled Water
Ideally, use distilled water in the water reservoir. It is much better for you than using tap water, which contains minerals that then get dispersed into the air along with the water vapour. The main issue with minerals getting released into the air in your home is that it can contribute to bacteria growth, which then becomes difficult to clean.
Always Dry the Humidifier After Cleaning Before Use
After each time you clean your humidifier, it’s important that you deep clean it before storing it or using it again. It is primarily because any damp areas in the machine will attract mould, which you and your family will then breathe in once it’s released into your home’s atmosphere.
Replace the Filter Often
Another way to improve the longevity of your humidifier is by replacing the filter every 30–60 days—or depending on how often you use it. If you live in an area with lots of air pollution, you may need to replace the filters more often than someone living in an area with no traffic and trees surrounding the area. And, if you notice that the humidifier is releasing an odour or giving off crusty water minerals, ensure that you replace the filter more often than you’re currently doing.
Empty the Water Tank and Reservoir
When you’re not using the humidifier, ensure that you empty and remove the tank and reservoir. Doing so will prevent bacteria from growing in multiple areas of the humidifier, which could then impact its longevity and effectiveness.
Why It’s Important to Clean a Humidifier
When using a humidifier in your home, it’s important that it’s clean for several reasons. It is because you don’t want to risk spreading harmful bacteria and/or mould into the air in your home. Plus, if you don’t properly disinfect and clean your humidifier, this can easily happen because the water sitting in the water tank will release into the air.
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On the other hand, if you use and operate your humidifier without giving it a thorough clean, you risk traces of unhealthy/dirty water being inhaled by you and your family. The main issue with this is that your indoor air quality is contaminated, which can contribute to a range of health implications. For example, poor air quality can lead to severe coughs, lung inflammation (and even lung disease and scarring), reduced appetite, anxiety, shortness of breath, and much more. These health implications are very serious and even more so if someone in your home has poor health as it is.
Signs That You Might Need to Buy a Humidifier
There are so many great reasons to own a humidifier. And below are some common signs that it’s time to invest in buying one for the health benefits.
You’re Experiencing Low Humidity in Your Home
When you have poor humidity in your home, your body will show you signs of this. For example, low humidity can leave itchy, red eyes, dry lips, cracked skin on your hands, and irritated nasal passages. Low air quality can also result in symptoms that are similar to the common cold. And most case scenarios, you may even have breathing difficulties at some point.
Moreover, you might even experience high static electricity that gives you a shock—such as touching an electric radiator. Or maybe you’ve had a headache for a while that’s quickly worsening.
Furniture and Accessories in Your Home Are Becoming Destroyed
But it’s not just you that will experience the effects of low humidity levels inside your home. Your furniture and accessories might also be feeling the effects. For example, you might begin to notice that wooden accessories (such as tables and instruments) are looking dried and cracked. Perhaps books and pieces of paper are getting more brittle than usual due to the low humidity.
Can You Leave Humidifiers Running All Night?
Yes. It’s perfectly okay to use humidifiers throughout the night—especially if your humidifier has a safe mode where it automatically switches off after a certain amount of time or if it’s knocked. In fact, there are many benefits to using a humidifier to aid moisture levels overnight, such as reduced sleep apnea, reduced snoring, better sleep quality and much more.
Can You Overuse a Humidifier?
With all of these incredible benefits, you might be lured into using your humidifier all of the time. However, using humidifiers all day and every day can worsen respiratory issues. Instead, only use humidifiers if you need to increase the moisture level inside your house. After several days of using humidifiers, you should find that any issues mentioned above are relieved.
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Generally speaking, for a room that has a 700–900 square foot unit, use a humidifier for 11–16 hours between fillings to add a cool mist to the air. Although, if you’re using a higher setting on the humidifier, reduce this timeframe so that you’re not overusing the product.
Clean Air Does Matter
We hope this article has helped to clear up any confusion about how to clean a humidifier. Caring for and maintaining your humidifier will help ensure that your investment will last you for a long time. Remember to deep clean it at least twice a week to enhance its effectiveness. Otherwise, you’ve spent money on a product that won’t actually be adding any benefits to your life.
Do you have a go-to cleaning solution that you use in your humidifier? Let us know the way to take care of your products in the comments.
Amy is a U.K.-based writer and editor with a penchant for helping consumers find the best home products for their needs, as well as providing easily digestible guides for living better at home. Her dedication to her work means she can usually be found elbow-deep in research or hunting down samples of the latest and greatest on behalf of her readers.
An avid DIYer herself, Amy’s passion lies in teaching others how they too can achieve their dream homes by tackling some of those pesky projects themselves! Whether it’s building furniture from scratch or turning an old dresser into a coffee table, Amy is always happy to share what she knows about making your house feel like home without spending a fortune.