How To Clean A Humidifier | Walk Through Guide

| Last Updated: March 1, 2021

Your humidifier keeps your home’s air comfortable and breathable. But like any appliance, it requires regular maintenance.

If you don’t clean your humidifier, its performance will deteriorate. A dirty humidifier can put your health at risk if the problem remains unaddressed.

Fortunately, cleaning a humidifier is easy. Once you know how to do it, you’ll have no excuse to avoid this task.

Essential Items Needed for Cleaning a Humidifier


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LoveSome White Distilled Vinegar

LoveSome White Distilled Vinegar, 64 Ounce

Clorox Liquid Bleach

Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution

Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution 32 Oz (2 Pack)

Casabella Loop 3-Piece Dish Brush

Casabella Loop 3-Piece Dish Brush Set - 15519AZ(Colors May Vary)

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Humidifier Clean

Humidifiers emit a pleasant, refreshing mist that makes breathing easier. It is especially helpful for those who suffer from asthma or allergies.

But when a humidifier isn’t cleaned, mold, mildew, and bacteria can thrive in the dirty dampness. A contaminated humidifier will become a source of airborne pollutants, possibly triggering the types of allergic attacks it was designed to prevent.

Unclean humidifiers can even cause respiratory difficulties in people who were previously healthy. The name for this condition is humidifier lung, and it is legitimately worth fearing.

The symptoms of humidifier lung mimic those of an allergy attack. If bouts are experienced regularly, it can cause scarring of lung tissue and a permanent reduction in breathing capacity. Infants and small children are especially vulnerable to this condition, making it especially urgent to keep your humidifier clean if you have young ones in the house.

Helpful Items Needed for Cleaning

To keep your humidifier shining and sanitary for months to come, here are the products you’ll need:

LoveSome White Distilled Vinegar, 64 Ounce

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You’ll love this superior cleaning product from LoveSome. It comes in a recyclable 64-ounce plastic container, providing you with all the pure white vinegar you’ll need to keep your humidifier clean indefinitely. Even the toughest stains are no match for this potent product from LoveSome, which when mixed with water can be used to return almost any household item to its natural sparkling state.

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The name Clorox is virtually synonymous with bleach, which is a testament to the strength and consistent quality of this superior cleaning product. Unlike generic brands, Clorox Liquid Beach won’t lose any potency after a few months, meaning you can purchase it to last with complete peace of mind. When you need bleach—and you will need it in order to disinfect your humidifier—it’s always wise to stick with Clorox.

Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution 32 Oz (2 Pack)

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For a versatile alternative to bleach, you can never go wrong with hydrogen peroxide. Stored in a recyclable dark plastic bottle, Swan Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution can sterilize or disinfect as efficiently as bleach, with an odor that isn’t quite as overwhelming. Quality control is important when purchasing hydrogen peroxide and is guaranteed when you select the Swan brand name.

4. Casabella Loop 3-Piece Brush Set

Casabella Loop 3-Piece Dish Brush Set - 15519AZ(Colors May Vary)

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High-quality scrub brushes are essential for efficient humidifier cleaning, and this three-piece set from Casabella is just what the doctor ordered. These ergonomically designed and thoughtfully crafted scrub brushes are constructed from the sturdiest polypropylene. They feature multiple brush head shapes that will allow you to meet any and all potential cleaning challenges, with a modicum of effort.

Other common items you’ll need for cleaning include paper towels, washcloths, and one or two larger towels. Ideally, you’ll have a sink with running water available nearby.

Cleaning the Humidifier: Step-by-Step Walkthrough Guide

Humidifiers must be cleaned and disinfected. Cleaning and disinfecting are two separate procedures, both equally important.

To perform basic weekly cleaning, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Separate the tank from the basin or tray and pull out the filter if your humidifier has one. If you aren’t sure how to disassemble your humidifier, consult the owner’s manual.
  2. Rinse the filter thoroughly with cold water under a running faucet (20-30 seconds). Set it aside to dry on a towel.
  3. Fill the tank with water and add one tablespoon of white vinegar for every 32 ounces used.
  4. Let the tank soak for 30 minutes. Empty and rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Wipe it clean and dry with a paper towel or washcloth
  5. If any grime or spots of mold, mildew, or mineral deposits remain, clean them vigorously with a scrub brush and white vinegar. Afterward, repeat the rinsing process. If there is no room to insert a scrub brush through the tank opening, an old toothbrush can be used instead.
  6. Repeat the above procedures with the basin or tray that sits below the tank.

To disinfect the tank and basin, you should:

  1. Mix bleach or hydrogen peroxide (your choice) with cold water at a ratio of one teaspoon per gallon.
  2. Fill the tank and basin with this solution. Let them sit for an hour before emptying and rinsing thoroughly.
  3. Wipe out the tank and basin with paper towels or washcloth.
  4. Reassemble the unit. It will now be ready to use.

When disinfecting a humidifier, never let it soak in bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution for more than an hour. Doing so could cause damage to the appliance. Also, you should make sure your vinegar solution is fully rinsed out before adding bleach or peroxide. These chemicals do not mix.

Disinfecting your humidifier on a bi-weekly basis is usually enough. However, if you see signs of active mold or bacterial colonization you should repeat the disinfection process weekly.

Video Review: How to Clean a Humidifier with Eric Worral

This YouTube video offers a precise and detailed visual presentation of the humidifier cleaning process. 

The appliance used in the demonstration had not been cleaned in months. Consequently, the bottom of the tank was covered with mold. Because it was so dirty, Worral was forced to both clean and disinfect the tank and basin. He leads the viewer through the cleaning process slowly, with clear explanations that are easy to follow.

As the video amply demonstrates, cleaning a humidifier requires little effort and no specialized equipment or procedures. If you’re the type of person who needs to see something done before you can do it yourself, this video should help you immensely.

How Often Should I Clean My Humidifier?

The environment inside a humidifier makes an ideal breeding ground for microbial lifeforms. They can thrive in an unclean humidifier. If you skimp on cleaning, the invasion can begin suddenly and run out of control within a couple of days.

To head off trouble, it is vital that you clean your humidifier thoroughly at least once a week. This is what the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers recommends, and it is your best defense against humidifier-induced respiratory distress.

If you decide to clean it more frequently, just to be safe, no one could blame you for that decision.

A Clean Humidifier is an Effective Humidifier

Cleaning a humidifier requires little effort and can be accomplished using common and versatile household items. There is nothing intimidating or mysterious about the process.

Humidifiers are handy home comfort appliances that deliver efficient performance at a minimal cost. Keeping them tuned to perfection and working properly means cleaning them regularly, and the time you invest in this activity will be time intelligently spent.

My name is Bob Wells and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs. Find more info about me and HVAC Training 101.