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How to Clean a Humidifier

It is essential to clean a Humidifier routinely to prevent mold, mildew or bacteria. Follow our Steps to clean and learn what to do when a humidifier does not mist.

How to Clean a Humidifier & what to do when the Humidifier does not Mist

This article originally published April 4, 2013, We have updated it with more current practices and updated images.

It is that time again! It is Allergy, cold & flu season, which means everyone is bringing out the Humidifiers to help moisten the air and to help combat the colds!

But unless you clean a humidifier properly, it can actually be detrimental to your health and well-being. Bacteria and mold can grow in the tanks and then get into the air through the mist.


Why a Clean Humidifier is helpful

Humidifiers are wonderful for many reasons. They help combat dry air. They have many health benefits such as

  • Relieve cold symptoms, cough, the flu, allergy, sinusitis, nose bleeding, and hay fever symptoms.
  • Relieves and prevents dry, scratchy skin and chapped or split lips.
  • Improves the air quality in the home
  • Helps babies sleep peacefully.
  • Improves skin health
  • Helps combat bronchial issues from cold weather
  • A great source to distil healing essential oils into the air.

But as I mentioned if you don’t clean a humidifier regularly it is also the prime location for bacteria and mold to grow which then gets pumped back out into your breathing air. Not such a good combination.

How to clean a humidifier that no longer mists

Now, I don’t know if I was just lazy, tired or just plain forgot; but I think I put my humidifier into storage at the end the summer without doing a proper cleaning. Because when I pulled it out to use for Jade when she got sick this last week, it would not mist. Oh, it would turn on and you could hear it heating up the water. It was working just fine. But something was preventing it from creating and dispersing the warm mist into the air.

When your humidifier stops vaporizing, even though it’s still in working condition otherwise, It is most likely the presence of mold or mineral deposits that are affecting a humidifier’s ability to vaporize. There is an almost fool-proof way to clean it out and get it working again!

The process is simple:

Step 1: Add 2 cups White Distilled Vinegar to the bottom of an empty water compartment. Fill to the full line with cold water.

Step 2: Assemble the Humidifier and then allow to run until the water compartment is almost empty, but not dry. Then rinse the unit out and run again with regular water to rinse the entire humidifier from the intense vinegar cleaning.

The Vinegar moving through the Humidifier will clean out any mineral deposits that have built up in the machine. Now take the humidifier apart and look at the humidifier itself. If there are still visible mineral deposits on the unit proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Create a paste of lemon juice, table salt, and baking soda. Dampen a clean cloth and apply the paste. Scrub off the remaining mineral deposits with the paste, then wipe the surfaces off with a clean, damp cloth.

Now wouldn’t you know it! It works! My Humidifier that previously wouldn’t mist at all, started misting like it was brand new within 5 minutes of adding the vinegar to the water! And now it works perfectly!

To prevent any further mineral build up; simply add a few tablespoons of vinegar to your water solution each time you use the humidifier. And ensure to clean a humidifier frequently.

How to Clean a humidifier routinely

Now in order to keep your health optimal and keep your humidifier running smoothly, you need to know how to clean a humidifier routinely. It’s rather simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort. Definitely something worth the time to do. And it works for both warm and cold mist humidifiers.

To clean your  humidifier you simply:

  • Unplug your humidifier and rinse out the humidifier with cool water. Never use chemical cleaners. They are unnecessary and can actually damage your machine.
  • Add White distilled vinegar to the water container, swish around and then allow to sit for 30 minutes. Use a soft brush when needed to ensure all mineral deposits are removed from the inside. Rinse and allow to dry.

How to Clean a Humidifier & what to do when the Humidifier does not Mist

To Disinfect your humidifier:

  • After cleaning the humidifier, simply fill the water tank with clean water and add one teaspoon of bleach to every gallon of water. You can also use 3% hydrogen peroxide instead. Gently swish the solution to coat the tank evenly, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse very thoroughly.

You should disinfect your humidifier at least once a week. And definitely, before use when you pull it out of storage to clear out anything that has built up over time.

 How to Clean a Humidifier & what to do when the Humidifier does not Mist

Now you can go back to enjoying your clean humidifier to improve your health and quality of air in your home! Remember the optimal humidity level for a home is between 30%-50%!

So be sure to get out your Humidifiers, and pick up a quality Humidity Gauge to ensure you keep your home at optimal levels. And remember how I mentioned Jade was sick last week? Humidifiers are also great to help distil healing essential oils!

Many have that medicine reserve where the mist comes out. Just add a few drops of your favorite healing essential oils and it gives double the benefit!

Be prepared for cold and flu season by checking out our other articles on

 Do you know more ways to clean a humidifier?

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Thursday 9th of November 2017

[…] I know I said I’d share how to shorten a cold in 5 easy steps, but I have an extra bonus task for you as well. Use a Humidifier! […]

kathrina lewis

Wednesday 8th of February 2017

Clean it using the natural things like vinegar and baking soda.

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Friday 6th of January 2017

[…] a quality Humidifier! There are many benefits of using a Humidifier in your home. Especially during cold and flu […]


Monday 15th of February 2016

thank you very much for your answer, but I'm interested in what models require very less maintenance? may be those who do not have a filter?


Friday 5th of February 2016

before cleaning, looks creepy! cool thing, but does it need to be cleaned often? and there are those that do not need to be cleaned?


Thursday 11th of February 2016

yes they need to be cleaned often. Otherwise it grows mold and mildew which then gets put out into the air which is really bad for your health. All models need to be cleaned.

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