How To Clean a Humidifier (Plus, the Top Ones To Buy)

how to clean your humidifier
Courtesy of Amazon

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If you ever deal with sinus issues or suffer the effects of dryness in the colder months, adding a humidifier to your home can bring a lot of relief and help you stay healthy throughout the winter (or any other seasons, if you live in a low humidity climate or put the heater on blast). Ideally, most homes should have a 30 to 50% humidity level.

While humidifiers have plenty of benefits like soothing your sinuses, moisturizing your skin, and reducing snoring while improving sleep quality, cleaning a humidifier can be a headache. This is a device that’s frequently holding water, so calcium build-up is inevitable. Additionally, all the nooks and crannies in humidifiers can turn them into a breeding ground for bacteria and dirt, which you’ll be inhaling at some point. Here’s our ultimate guide on how to clean a humidifier, as well as our top picks on hassle-free, easy-to-clean humidifiers.


How To Clean a Humidifier


1. Disassemble your humidifier

These machines have a lot of working parts, and you can’t exactly throw the thing in the dishwasher. First, unplug the humidifier. Then, take out the water tank and empty any leftover water before you unlatch and unlock all components that can be removed. Filters should only be cleaned with a quick rinse and not with cleaning chemicals.

2. Clean with a solution of your choice

At this point, you can pick your cleansing solution. While there are humidifier cleaning tablets and pre-formulated solutions, the cheapest and most natural way to clean your humidifier is by using distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Pour into the base and let it soak for about half an hour. Wipe down smaller parts with a paper towel or cloth dipped in the vinegar, using a brush on stubborn stops. To dislodge an excess of grime, add a few tablespoons of rice and cold water to slough off the gross stuff.

3. Disinfect

As we mentioned, there are plenty of store-bought products that you can use for disinfecting any leftover bacteria after you’ve wiped off the dirt. You can blend a gallon of water with a teaspoon of bleach, hydrogen peroxide or an all natural-solution, swirling around the tank and letting it sit for half an hour.

4. Rinse and put it back together

Carefully dry all the parts with a paper towel or microfiber cloth before your put your humidifier back together. When you refill after your deep clean, consider using distilled water, which can help prevent the mineral buildup caused by tap water. Voila! That’s all when it comes to how to clean a humidifier.


Humidifier Maintenance Pro Tips

  • Empty the tank when you’re not using the humidifier
  • Replace your filter every two months (monthly if in heavy use)
  • Turn over the wick filter every time you fill up the tank
  • Use distilled or filtered water over tap water
  • On any model, do a deep clean monthly to prevent buildup

How To Choose a Humidifier That’s Easy To Clean

Although most humidifiers require cleaning, the nature of their design can make a big difference to users over time. Search for a unit with:

  • A large entrance at the top side for easy filling and cleaning
  • Minimal nooks and crannies for simpler maintenance
  • Opt for a cool mist or ultrasonic model, which reduce bacteria

1. Use apple cider vinegar as a less stinky alternative

White vinegar is effective if you want to go chemical-free and DIY, but often leaves an unsavory odor that many people are sensitive to. Consider switching to apple cider vinegar for equal cleaning power without the stink. Along with doubling as an all-natural cleaning solution, this organic unfiltered version by Bragg also has tons of health benefits if you consume it orally.

bragg apple cider vinegar Courtesy of Walmart

2. Disinfect with bleach tablets

Liquid bleach can be hazardous to deal with — you definitely don’t want that stuff getting anywhere near your mouth or bare hands, so if you want to skip the gloves and mask, consider these compact bleach tablets by Cleanex. They can be used for laundry and other multipurpose cleaning purposes, like disinfecting your humidifier. A safer way to keep bleach in the household that also has a longer shelf life.

bleach cleanex tablets Courtesy of Amazon

3. Use a pre-formulated cleaning solution

If you’re not concerned about going all-natural and just want your humidifier to be sparkling clean, look no further than this Essick Air humidifier treatment, which removes bacteria and optimizes the performance of your device. It works with evaporative humidifiers, but keep in mind that while the ingredients are extremely powerful and effective, they are chemical-based, so you’ll need to use gloves and potentially even goggles when handling.

Essick Air 1970 Humidifier Treatment, 2-Pack Courtesy of Amazon

4. Get a demineralization cartridge

When searching for a demineralization cartridge, you may need to search for cartridges for your specific humidifier model. If you have an ultrasonic humidifier, consider these cartridge replacements which reduce the buildup of hard water, filters mineral deposits, and purify water. They also remove the odor that some humidifiers can develop after heavy use. Every cartridge provides up to 30 tank fills, depending on how hard the water is in your area.

HoMedics Demineralization Cartridge for Ultrasonic Humidifiers Courtesy of Amazon

5. A non-toxic cleaner that doesn’t require DIY

If you don’t want to use toxic chemicals to clean your humidifier but also don’t want to use household ingredients, consider this PUREFY humidifier treatment for both ultrasonic and evaporative models. It’s unscented, hypoallergenic, and even safe for babies to be around, with a pH-neutral, non-toxic formula. It brings healthier air, without the harsh side effects of a cleaner. One buyer says, “Keeps the tank and base free of mold and slimy buildup.”

PUREFY Humidifier Treatment Courtesy of Amazon

Humidifiers That Are Easy To Clean


1. Dyson Purifier Humidify + Cool

This multifunctional humidifier also doubles as an air purifier. Unlike humidifiers of a traditional shape, this three-in-one purifier, humidifier and fan features an open construction that’s much simpler to clean. Special UV cleanse technology exposes all water to UV light, humidifying the air in a cleaner way. It might come with a hefty price tag, but since it’s basically three expensive devices in one.

Dyson Purifier Humidify + Cool Courtesy of Dyson

2. Miro-NR08M Washable Modulary Sanitary Cool-Mist Humidifier

Miro’s attractive humidifier is completely washable and modular, with no frustrating tight areas that you can’t reach. It’s easy to take apart, use, and fill up. It also has a soothing LED color cycle, allowing you to choose a favorite color, opt for a rainbow, or go lights-free. This humidifier opens with just a single motion and is easy to put back together thanks to built-in magnets.

Miro-NR08M Washable Modulary Sanitary Cool-Mist Humidifier Courtesy of Amazon

3. Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

This ultrasonic cool-mist humidifier by Pure Enrichment is so quiet, you won’t even realize it’s operating. It has a tank that can last up to 25 hours, moisturizing the air continuously. There are also high and low-speed settings and a disc cleaning brush is included as well, so you can easily remove debris from the ultrasonic disk when needed. The large reservoir makes it easy to fill and clean, and people love the stylish aesthetic.

Pure Enrichment® MistAire™ Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Courtesy of Amazon

4. LEVOIT Warm And Cool Mist Humidifier

This unique dual-temp hybrid design offers both warm and cool mist. The tank holds 6 liters, which is enough to run for up to 60 hours, and an included remote control allows you to control the machine from across the room. Auto Mode adjusts mist levels, but you can also customize the humidity percentage. Best of all? It’s a filterless system, which means lower costs, no replacing, and an overall cleaner humidifier.

Pure Enrichment® MistAire™ Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Courtesy of Amazon

How To Clean Your Humidifier And Make It More Effective