Skip to Content

How to Clean a Humidifier

How to Clean a Humidifier

Humidifiers are lifesavers, especially if the air in your home is uncomfortably dry. It prevents you and your loved ones from having scratchy throats, dry skins, or parched sinuses. It is essential that you deep clean your humidifier regularly, especially during the dry winter climate. During this climate, water often provides perfect conditions for the growth of microbes and humidifier mold.

Cleaning a humidifier at least once a week could prevent respiratory problems among your family members. However, you can do it more often if any of your loved ones have existing respiratory problems. Here is what to use when cleaning a humidifier; however, be sure to follow all the cleaning instructions of your specific model.

How to Clean a Humidifier With Vinegar

Before cleaning your humidifier, it is best to unplug it and empty all the remaining water. Stagnant water often leads to bacteria and humidifier mold. In addition, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions when pouring water out of the appliance to prevent moisture from entering the electrical components and motor in the base. Water entering your humidifier is an easy way to break it.

What You Need

  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 cups of white vinegar (6% acidity).


  • Fill the humidifier’s base with 1 cup water and 1 cup of white vinegar and let it sit for an hour. Vinegar is a natural cleanser, and it will help loosen any residue and disinfect your humidifier.
  • While the humidifier’s base is still being treated with vinegar and water solution, use this time to clean the inside of the water reservoir.
  • When water sits stagnant in the container, the interior of the reservoir will also develop a greasy film.
  • Fill the reservoir’s interior with 2 cups of white vinegar, seal it shut, and then shake it to agitate any grime.
  • You can do this for several minutes or as long as your muscles can tolerate the process.
  • Hold the reservoir upside down and manually allow the vinegar solution to filter through its nozzle. You can do this by pressing on the nozzle to loosen the seal.
  • Once the vinegar is empty, refill it with plain water, and repeat the process to rinse off any loosened debris from the reservoir and nozzle.
  • Once the base has properly soaked, pour the solution out. Ensure that you empty correctly to prevent the liquid from entering the motor.
  • Soak a cloth in vinegar and use it to wipe down the interior of the base. Once done, allow it to air dry.

Is It Okay to Run Vinegar Through a Humidifier?

Although vinegar is an excellent humidifier cleaner, it is best not to run it through a humidifier. Running a humidifier with vinegar in it can irritate your nose, eyes, lungs, and throat.

How to Clean a Humidifier Without Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best options if you clean your humidifier regularly. Other detergents may contain chemicals, which can get into the air and your lungs if you use them regularly. If you don’t have vinegar, you can try the following options:

  • First, soak the tank and base with hot water. Then, let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
  • Scrub the humidifier thoroughly with a small brush to remove any scale.
  • Rinse out with hot water;
  • Let it dry completely.

How to Clean a Humidifier With Bleach

Bleach is perfect for disinfecting a home humidifier. If you use the humidifier regularly, it is best to disinfect it after every ten days. Disinfecting it this often will kill any mold growing inside and blow out moist air and mold spores.

What You Need

  • 1 gallon of water
  • ½ cup of bleach


  • Add the bleach to the gallon of water and pour the solution into the humidifier.
  • Run the humidifier until it starts to mist, turn it off, and allow the solution to sit for several minutes.
  • Empty the bleach and rinse the humidifier with water.
  • Run it with water for some minutes until you can’t smell bleach in the mist.
  • Empty the water, rinse the humidifier, and fill it with clean water for subsequent use.

Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm if you can use bleach to clean your humidifier. If the instructions warn you against using bleach, do not risk using it and damaging your unit.

How to Clean a Humidifier With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the least expensive options used for preventing mold in the humidifier. Adding a few drops into the water reservoir will kill mold and bacteria.

What You Need

  • 4 parts water
  • 1 part hydrogen peroxide


  • Make a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 4 parts water.
  • Fill the humidifier tank with the solution and leave it for at least 30 minutes.
  • Empty the tank and clean it thoroughly with clean water.
  • Let the tank air dry before reassembling.

Do Humidifier Cleaning Tablets Work?

You can use humidifier cleaning tablets to clean all types of humidifiers. They help keep them clean of hard mineral deposits, which create white dust caused by hard water in the humidifier. The tablets also prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria on the humidifier.

If used consistently, the tablets can also help clean the air you breathe and work well as the humidifier operates.

How to Clean a Humidifier With Mold

Although a humidifier offers several benefits, it is also a perfect breeding ground for mold. When mold grows inside a humidifier, the fan disperses them into the air, where you and your loved ones can inhale them and experience respiratory problems.

Cleaning and killing humidifier mold reduces the risk of health complications such as inflammation of the lungs and respiratory allergies. Here is how you can clean a humidifier with mold:

What You Need

  • Clean cloth
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubber gloves
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Cleaning brush, sponge, or scrubber
  • Distilled or filtered water

Clean the Humidifier With Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Take proper safety precautions by unplugging your humidifier and emptying the reservoir.
  • Take the unit outside in a well-ventilated area, and put on rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide to scrub the humidifier. You can use a cleaning brush, sponge, or scrubber that’s dipped into a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Wipe off all the treated areas with a clean and damp cloth.

Use a Bleach Solution

  • Create a bleach solution using equal parts of water and chlorine.
  • Pour the bleach and water solution into the reservoir and allow it to sit there for about 15 minutes.
  • Dip a clean cloth into the solution and wipe down the outside and inside of the reservoir.
  • Run the humidifier by plugging it into an outside outlet.
  • Allow it to run for at least 30 minutes to allow the bleach solution to make its way through every part of the humidifier, including those that are hard to reach with a scrub brush.
  • Pour out the bleach solution and rinse the reservoir thoroughly underneath running water.
  • Fill the humidifier with clean water and allow it to run for at least three minutes. This will help in flushing out any bleach residue.
  • Wipe all the surfaces dry using a clean and soft cloth. Alternatively, you can let the unit air-dry in the sunshine.

How Often Should You Clean a Humidifier?

It would help if you prevented mold from reoccurring by creating a future cleaning schedule. After every third day of use, it is prudent to unplug the humidifier and soak the reservoir in a 10% bleach solution for at least 20 minutes. Rinse it well and wipe with a clean cloth.

You can also decide to clean it at least once a week. Remember to always unplug it before cleaning it because water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Be sure to empty, rinse, and dry the tank and base every day.

Check this too: Troubleshooting a Vicks humidifier

Remember that humidifiers are not high-maintenance if you stick to a strict cleaning routine. You can follow these steps to make your life simpler:

  • Empty and rinse the water tank every day, and dry the humidifier and its surrounding area.
  • Clean the nozzle and water tank each week.
  • Clean the filter and disinfect the humidifier each month.

Having a clean humidifier ensures that your home is ever smelling fresh. It also reduces the risk of it having bacteria that can trigger allergy attacks and illness. Follow the steps above to ensure that you have a clean and healthy home.