How To Clean A Humidifier: 5 Super Tips

It is very important that you learn how to clean a humidifier.

There are many reasons for this. However, the main one is that humidifiers make good breeding grounds for germs, viruses and bacteria.

Over time, I have owned cool mist and warm mist humidifiers. I know how they work and I enjoy the comfort that they bring. In this short post, we will discuss how to clean both types of humidifiers.

However, I have also had a nasty white dust experience on my furniture. This, as I learned later, not only comes from using water with a lot of hard minerals, but also from not cleaning the humidifier well.

When you use a warm mist humidifier, the hard minerals form a layer on the wall of the tank. Thus, the next time that you turn it on, these minerals are dispersed with the mist. When the air becomes dry, the minerals also dry up leaving a fine white dust on walls and on your furniture.

Cleaning a humidifier will not only get rid of viruses and bacteria but it will also prolong the life of the appliance. But it is not just a matter of cleaning the tank and the filters. There is much more involved as I will show you here.

How To clean a humidifier – Steps I follow to clean mine

Here is how I clean my humidifier:

1. I Read the cleaning directions of my model

This is very important. No one knows a product like its manufacturer does. Thus, when you buy this appliance for humidifying the air indoors, you must find out how to maintain and care for it from the manufacturer.

One of the things that I do when I get any appliance or any item at home, is to look at the user manual. Even if I know how to operate the item, I still keep the user manual and I use it from time to time. The reason why I do this is to ensure that I only use it as the manufacturer advises.

If the manufacturer says to avoid harsh chemicals for cleaning the tank, I will not touch them. If they say that I should clean the tank with cold water, I will do just that. I have found out that following the manufacturer recommendations is beneficial.

Also check: Does a humidifier increase oxygen? 

It enhances the life of the appliance. It also ensures that I do not violate the warranty if any. Today, I would advise you to read what the manufacturer says about cleaning their appliances.

If there is something that you cannot understand in the user manual, call them on their customer service number, or send them an email. I have done it several times myself.

2. Clean the humidifier more often and regularly

Do not let dirt accumulate in your appliances. Clean more often. That way, you do not have to do a backbreaking job.

One thing I have found out is that when I clean my appliances more often, the job gets easier. In fact, I even start to enjoy it.

I guess the reason for this is that when you clean more often, you never need to do a backbreaking job. It would take you minimal time to clean a week’s dirt than a month’s, right?

How often I clean my humidifier depends on how long it has been running. For example, during the cold seasons, I use the humidifier almost daily.

Thus, I clean it more often! To be more specific, I clean my humidifier once a week, a serious, thorough cleaning. However, when I have to refill it daily I rinse it once before adding fresh water.

By making a habit of cleaning my humidifier regularly, I have seen a lot of improvement in the health of my family.

There are no allergies and even cases of colds have gone down. I guess this means that clean humidifiers are more efficient and they enhance the health even more.

3. Set aside enough time – 60 to 90 minutes

We will always set aside enough time for our laundry and the general house cleaning, but do the appliance cleaning job in a haphazard way.

But I love my money. When I buy an appliance such as a humidifier, I want to give it the best tender loving care possible.

When I am running my humidifier everyday, even if it is just for a couple of hours, I clean it every Saturday afternoon. I dedicate 60 to 90 minutes for the job. If you have let yours stay longer without cleaning, you could take more time.

I am also used to cleaning my items, so it takes me a shorter time. However, when it has been some time since the last cleaning session, I take much longer than that.

If you are learning how to clean a humidifier, you will take longer. The more often that you clean, the more you are going to get used to it.

Because humidifiers have some delicate parts, you cannot clean in a hurry. This is why you need enough time for the job. You also need to look the appliance over to see whether some parts are worn out so that you can replace them.

4. I clean my humidifier before storage

When the cold season is over, it is time to hang up the humidifier until you need it again. It has this deceptive way of looking clean even when it is not clean.

You need to ensure that you clean it thoroughly before storage. Dry every part thoroughly because if you store it when wet, it can develop mold.

Keep checking the humidity level indoors with your hygrometer. If you need to crank the humidifier up, take it out of storage. However, clean or rinse it before you can use it.

If there were any bacteria lurking inside the tank, they are flushed out. When you start pumping out the mist, it will be clean and healthy for your lungs.

5. I disinfect my humidifiers regularly

Disinfecting a humidifier even after cleaning it is a way of making doubly sure that any bacteria in there are dead. Breathe in clean mist all the time. You will love the comfort this appliance can bring to your home.

It is recommended that you use chlorine bleach for disinfecting the tank. At least that is what I use.

I use this even when I have cleaned the humidifier with a white vinegar solution. I have found out that chlorine kills any bacteria that may be lurking in the tank. There is no better way to get clean and pure mist from your humidifier.

Because you cannot see bacteria with your eyes, you cannot know whether there are some or not. Thus, I make a habit of disinfecting my humidifiers at least once in a fortnight.

If you suspect that your tap water is laden with bacteria, you can disinfect more regularly, perhaps once a week.

When someone in my family has a cold, I clean the humidifier even twice a week. It is quite possible for the bacteria or viruses to be spread through the mist.

CAUTION: Never use bleach with vinegar because the two form a poisonous gas. Choose either bleach or vinegar and even then, rinse the humidifier thoroughly.

How to clean a humidifier – The Process

Roll up your sleeves and get down to business. It is not too hard and tell you what, if you enjoy fresh air in your house, you can actually enjoy cleaning this appliance. How to clean a humidifier, even for a beginner is easy. First, watch the video below:


Gather everything that you need

  • A pair of gloves – the plastic flexible ones
  • Household bleach, hydrogen peroxide is also good
  • A brush with soft bristles
  • White vinegar
  • Cleaning towels
  • Water and household soap
  • A spray bottle

See that? You just need those few things. Actually, you may not even need to use everything, but we are assuming that you are doing a major clean. Get all the things listed if you can.

Unplug and disassemble the humidifier

Unplug the appliance from the wall socket. You will also have to take it apart, have the different parts on the table. You can always use a large pan to keep the small bits safely so that you do not lose them.

Specifically, you need to take the filter out, the tank and even the base. It should be easy to return them when you are done since you just have to follow the user manual.

Cleaning the tank and the filter

Bacteria and viruses hide in the tank and in the filter. This is where you need to pay the most attention.

First, fill the tank with water, about 7/8 full and add one or two tablespoonfuls of bleach. You can then cover it and let it stay for 25 to 30 minutes. I can assure you no bacteria are going to survive in that solution.

To clean the filter, you will need to fill a large bowl or saucepan with water and then add a 2 cupfuls of white vinegar. You can then dip the filter inside the solution and let it stay put for 25 to 30 minutes.

Something to note here:  Some resources will tell you to clean the filter with water alone. That is also fine. However, the best way to do it is to hold it under the faucet and rotate it around as water runs through it.

I have cleaned mine with white vinegar and water solution and it has always been quite effective.

Cleaning the base of the humidifier

The base of the humidifier also harbors many bacteria. Thus, it needs your special attention.

First, you pour in some undiluted vinegar and then let it stay in the base for 25 to 30 minutes.

Second, take your brush with the soft bristles and scrub at any residue on the base gently until it all comes off. You can then rinse your base in clean water until there is no trace of vinegar.

You are not done with the base yet. Now, you need to use the bleach in the base. Pour a spoonful of bleach per gallon of water that you can get into the base. You can then let it stay put for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Putting the humidifier back together

Pour out the solution in the tank and rinse it thoroughly. If you need to disinfect the tank, match a spoonful of your bleach with a gallon of water.

If your tank has a capacity of 4 gallons, you should use 4 spoonfuls of bleach. Cover it, again let it stay for 30 minutes.

Pour it out and rinse thoroughly. By now, you have rinsed your filter thorough. You are now ready to put everything together. Just follow the instructions in the user manual.

If you do not have a user manual, take a video when disassembling the appliance, noting every step when you take out a part. That way, when you have to assemble it, you can just reverse the steps that you took.

Really, it is quite simple, you should not sweat it at all. Besides, should you have any trouble, you can always find out whether there is a YouTube video for guidance.

When you are done putting everything back together, add water and test whether it is working. It should operate as if it is brand new.

Cleaning the small parts

The thing is… if you clean the big parts such as tank and base and forget the small parts, they could still harbor some viruses.

Clean the cap by using a towel dipped in vinegar. Wipe them thoroughly. If there are mineral deposits stuck on the cap, use the brush to get them off.

You may wipe the parts so they dry faster, but it is better to air-dry them.

Image of cleaning a humidifier

How to clean a humidifier using hydrogen peroxide

Just like bleach, hydrogen peroxide is also used for disinfecting the tank. You just need to pour in a few cupfuls of hydrogen peroxide in the tank and then swish it around.

Ensure it touches all the walls of the tank. Cover it and let it stay for about 40 minutes, pour it out and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Please note that you should never use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together. Use each at its own time if you must use the two of them.

Again, this is unnecessary since vinegar is enough. You may also use bleach alone if you clean the tank regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions: How To Clean a Humidifier

Before I learned how to clean my humidifier, here are some of the questions that I had in my mind.

How often do you need to clean your humidifier?

Once a day if used all the time, twice or even thrice a week depending on certain things.

Consider the ease of operation and maintenance when buying a good humidifier for bedroom.

Generally, humidifiers are somewhat low-maintenance appliances with the main maintenance activity being regular cleaning. Nevertheless, the best unit should not give you a hard time operating or maintaining it.

Why do you need to clean your humidifier?

If it is not cleaned regularly, a humidifier reservoir can easily become a good breeding place for mold and bacteria.

The two can cause negative effects on your respiratory system or even aggravate allergies. When shopping for your humidifier, look for a model whose parts are simple to disassemble when cleaning and easy to assemble back.

Why should you clean your humidifier? It is not only good for your health, but it also helps to extend the useful life of your unit.

Is a humidifier dishwasher-friendly?

When buying your humidifier, look for features such as easy to wipe or dishwasher friendly parts and wider reservoir openings.

You can consider models with features such as maintenance reminders, which alerts you when your unit requires cleaning or filters change.

Therefore, I am sure that you would not want a unit that will give you a heck of a time trying to get it running.

The best model should have a detachable tank with a wider mouth for easier refilling under a faucet. It should also come with other helpful features such as a carrying handle for easier portability.


You have seen how to clean a humidifier. It is that simple. However, as we said, you need to set aside enough time for the job at hand.

To avoid turning this into a backbreaking job, clean your appliance more regularly, even if it means twice a week when you are running it full time.

With the fresh cool mist, you can relax and enjoy your well-earned share of clean air.