There are many benefits to using a humidifier in your home, especially during dry weather. Dry air draws moisture from your eyes, skin, and throat, causing discomfort, respiratory issues, dry skin and eyes, and allergies.
A humidifier will add moisture to the air and relieve the effects of dry air. But if you neglect your humidifier, it will breed mold, contaminate your indoor air and harm your health.
It may not be apparent initially, but mold can cause serious health issues, especially in children and people with existing respiratory conditions. Fortunately, you can remove mold from your humidifier by cleaning it using disinfecting products.
We will provide detailed instructions on how you can safely and efficiently clean pink mold. We have also given you important tricks to prevent the consequent growth of pink mold in your humidifier.
What to do if you get mold in your humidifier
Since the mold in humidifiers is not always visible because it doesn’t appear green or back, the first sign is a musty odor from your humidifier. Even if you can’t see or smell anything unusual, but it’s been a while since you thoroughly cleaned your humidifier, there’s a high chance it has mold inside. Therefore, you’ll need to clean and disinfect it. Here’s what to do to remove mold from your humidifier.
Things you’ll need
- Filtered or distilled water water
- White vinegar, citric acid powder, or humidifier tablets
- Scrubbing brush or sponge
- Clean, lint-free cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide
The water reservoir
- Unplug your humidifier from power and empty the reservoir.
- Pot on your rubber gloves to protect your hands and a respirator mask in case of respiratory allergies.
- Carry the humidifier outside where you can work in a well-ventilated area.
- Pour a generous amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide or white distilled vinegar into the reservoir.
- Then use the brush or sponge to scrub off the mineral buildup and gunk from the reservoir, then empty it.
- You can repeat the previous step to remove all the mineral residue if it is still dirty.
- Make a mixture of four parts distilled water and one part hydrogen peroxide or bleach.
- Pour this mixture into your humidifier’s reservoir and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can use humidifier tablets that help kill bacteria and mold and break down mineral deposits.
- Plug the humidifier with the cleaning solution in the reservoir into a power outlet. Allow your humidifier to run for about 30 minutes. The cleaning solution will run through the unit and disinfect internal components that are hard to reach with a brush.
- Unplug the humidifier, pour out the liquid, and rinse the reservoir thoroughly under running water.
- Fill the reservoir with distilled water and allow the humidifier to run for about 3 minutes to flush out any cleaning solution residue.
- Empty the water reservoir and wipe it down with a clean cloth and hydrogen peroxide.
- Mix some dishwashing soap and water and clean the outside of the humidifier. Make sure not to get any water or liquids in the electrical parts.
Evaporative wick or filter
- If you have an evaporative humidifier, you need to clean the wick. The evaporative wick soaks water from the tank to the fan to facilitate evaporation. Unfortunately, the wick can also harbor mold if not regularly cleaned or replaced.
- Remove the wick from the humidifier and rinse it under running water. Do not use any cleaning solution on the wick. If the wick is caked with mineral deposits and dirt, replace it with a fresh wick.
- Mix white vinegar and water in a bucket. Then soak the wick in the solution for about 20-30 minutes to loosen scale buildup.
- Then use a soft-bristled brush to get rid of any stubborn scale.
- Remove the filter from the solution and rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any vinegar residue and smell. Do not ring or twist this humidifier wick or filter.
- Allow it to dry completely before replacing it in the humidifier.
If cleaning doesn’t help remove the mold from your humidifier, you may have to replace it with portable humidifiers like the Vicks humidifiers, which are affordable and widely available ones.
Is pink mold harmful?
Pink mold is not as inherently dangerous as the black mold. However, that’s not to say exposure to pink mold is safe. Mold comes in colors of green, black, purple, orange, pink, and even red. But the mold that grows in humidifiers is usually white or pink. In addition, pink mold usually grows in damp to wet and dark places, making the water tank and filter of your humidifier a prime location for this mold to thrive.
Prolonged exposure to pink mold causes respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, and urinary tract infections. Additionally, those with existing conditions such as asthma become worse.
Serratia marcescens in humidifiers can lead to eye infections if it comes into contact with your eye contacts. This pink mold can also cause a severe infection if it comes into contact with an open wound.
If you see pink or red mold in the humidifier, you’re likely dealing with a troublesome type of pink mold called Aureobasidium pullulans. This type can cause a condition known as humidifier lung(hypersensitivity pneumonitis). This condition occurs when the mold leaves the humidifier and invades your nose and lungs. Symptoms of humidifier lung include difficulty breathing, fever, congestion, and coughing.
So that’s why it is imperative to inspect your humidifier regularly and clean it to prevent mold growth.
Can you get sick from a moldy humidifier?
Dirty and moldy humidifiers can cause respiratory problems and even infections. They also worsen symptoms for people with lung disease, allergies, and asthma. But even in healthy people, moldy humidifiers can trigger flu-like symptoms or even lung infections from prolonged exposure.
How to keep pink mold out of your humidifier
After dealing with a moldy humidifier, it’s important to maintain your humidifier’s maintenance routine to ensure mold and bacteria are not breeding in the unit and being expelled into the air. So there are a number of tips and tricks that can do to protect your humidifier from mold buildup.
- It’s always best to use distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier. Tap water contains minerals that accumulate in your humidifier and promote bacteria and mold growth. Distilled water has a much lower mineral content than tap water.
- Change the water in your humidifier’s reservoir often or daily to prevent deposits from forming. When you empty the water tank, clean it with white vinegar, rinse off the vinegar residue, then refill it with distilled water.
- EPA recommends cleaning your humidifier every three days if you run it every day. First, cleaning removes buildup on mineral residue and mold. Then use hydrogen peroxide or bleach to disinfect the unit.
- Change the humidifier filter every 3-6 months. Mold can also breed in the filter as it’s usually wet.
- Keep the area around the humidifier dry to prevent mold growth. If the area around your humidifier becomes wet, mold may grow and invade the humidifier. Do not run the humidifier throughout to allow the area around it to dry.
- Store your humidifier properly. Empty and clean the unit before storing it, then clean it again when taking it out of storage for use. Also, throw away all used filters, cartridges, and cassettes before storage to prevent mold from breeding inside the humidifier while it’s in storage.
Pink mold is the most common type in humidifiers, which you can remove by simply using distilled water, changing the water every day, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting it. If you’re concerned that your humidifier has mold, clean it thoroughly with a disinfecting solution such as water and white vinegar, chlorine bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.