How To Clean A Cool Mist Humidifier: 9 Important Steps

You need to know how to clean a cool mist humidifier to get the best performance out of it.

The months of winter are cold and dry. You need a humidifier to raise the humidity level, or you will start to experience the symptoms of sleeping in a dry bedroom.

These could range from nosebleeds to itchy skin, watery eyes, inflamed airways, and many others.

You need a good humidifier. There are cool mist units, warm mist ones, ultrasonic ones, evaporative ones, and even steamers.

Why buy a cool mist humidifier?

Image of cool mist humidifier

A cool mist humidifier is designed to dispense cool mist into the room to raise humidity.

Further, we can also say that, compared to its warm mist counterparts, the cool mist one is safer. You can use it in a baby’s room, or in rooms where there are pets.

It is very safe. The worst that can happen if it topples over is to spill cold water on the floor.

As compared to a warm mist humidifier, which boils water and thus poses a serious hazard of scalding, the cool mist one wins hands down.

This is not to say that a warm mist humidifier is not good. It has its own unique benefits, too.

Warm mist humidifiers have a heating element installed in the base. When the water boils, it is dispersed in the form of steam.

Cool mist ones have a fan that whips water inside the tank into a fine mist, which is dispersed into the room.

How to clean a cool mist humidifier

How to clean a cool mist humidifier

For continued efficiency in humidifying the air at home, humidifiers need regular care and maintenance.

Some humidifiers come with filters and others come in a filter-free design. Nonetheless, both types require you to maintain them keenly so that they do not disperse bacteria into your air with the mist.

Cleaning your humidifier is recommended because it also enhances the life of the appliance.

Just imagine using a humidifier for several years. That is what we call getting more than enough value for money.

At the same time, when you make a habit of cleaning your humidifier, you will see any defects. This can help you know when it is time to hang up the humidifier and order a new one.

When you clean the humidifier, you also help it to work more efficiently and effectively. Check everything, including the power cable. If it has filters, replace them on time.

Here is a step-by-step process for cleaning a humidifier:


Start by checking the user manual. In the humidifier instructions, you will find information for refilling, cleaning, transporting, storage,, and troubleshooting.

1. Unplug and remove the water tank and base

First, let the humidifier run out of water, or you can pour it out. Unplug the appliance from power. This is as simple as pulling the plug out of the socket.

Now, you have to disconnect the tank from the base. It is not hard. You just need to twist the tank in an anti-clockwise direction.

This is usually indicated in the user guide, so be sure to check it out. If you do not have the user manual, you can always check the website of the manufacturer.

After unplugging the humidifier, take it to your kitchen counter near the sink. You will need a lot of water anyway. Make sure not to drop anything.

2. Dry the filter

Cool mist humidifiers, unless they are ultrasonic, come with a wicking filter You should get it out, but first, you have to dry it.

To do that, just unplug the humidifier and empty the tank. You can then plug it back in and let it run for a short time so that the filter can dry out completely.

Remember, you do not even need to return the tank to dry the filter. Just run it like that, without the tank.

3. Remove the wicking filter

Once the filter is dry, remove it. To access the filter, you have to dismantle the housing of the humidifier. This should not be too hard but do check the user manual.

The filter can be a cylindrical piece with a hollow part in the middle, or it can be one flat piece. Be gentle with the filter, lest you disfigure it.

4. Remove the water tray

The water tray is between the base of the humidifier and the water tank. You cannot say you know how to clean a cool mist humidifier if you do not clean the tray.

To get it out, you have to remove the tank first. You may find that it slides out in some models. Just check what the manufacturer says in the user manual. If it is clipped to the base, just unclip it.

image of cleaning a humidifier

5. Clean the water tray

Fill the water tray with white vinegar to about half and then let it stay for about 20 minutes.

You should also use a sponge or a small piece of cloth dipped in the vinegar to wipe the parts of the tray that have not been in contact with the white vinegar.

Do not use soaps or detergent, even the dishwashing ones, to clean the humidifier tray. It is also vital that you do not submerge the tray in water.

You may dry the tray with a towel or place it on a rack to air-dry it.

6. Cleaning the humidifier tank

Fill the tank with about 1.5 gallons of water. This could be cold or warm water. You can then add a spoonful or two of bleach (chlorine is best) to the water.

Let the solution sit in the tank for about 25 minutes. OK, some people say 20 minutes, others say 30 minutes. It does not matter that much, as long as it is at least 20 minutes.

I usually cap the tank and shake it after about 5 minutes. The reason for shaking the tank is so that the solution can reach all corners.

That way, you can be sure that every area of the tank has come into contact with the bleach.

Also, never let bleach mix with white vinegar. They form a poisonous gas that can even kill you.

After 25 minutes, you can empty the tank, rinse it two times with clean water, and then insert it into the base. But wait, is the base itself clean?

In the next section about how to clean a cool mist humidifier, we shall look at how to clean the base.

7. Cleaning the base of the humidifier

Cleaning the humidifier base is very important. It is also important to disinfect it to get rid of any germs that might be harbored there. To do that, you are going to use white vinegar.

Just fill it in the base in its undiluted form, and then let it stay for about 20 minutes or more. Dip the tube of the humidifier, that is, if it comes with one, because not all of them come with one.

You should also check the base for any scales or deposits. If you see such, wipe them with a clean piece of cloth.

8. Rinse the base with clean water

After 20 minutes, empty the base and remove the pickup tube from the basin where you had placed and empty that too.

You should then rinse the two of them thoroughly with clean cold water. You should then wipe the base with a clean towel to dry it.

You can then fill the tank with water and replace it on the base. Add the top housing and the appliance is ready to run again.

9. Clean/wipe the exterior of the humidifier

To complete the process of how to clean a cool mist humidifier, you should clean the exterior. This is simple, and you can do it by wiping it.

Use a dry towel or a dry piece of cloth. At the same time, check for any stains or stuck dirt on the exterior. If there are stains, just dip a piece of sponge or cloth in white vinegar and wipe it clean.

How often to clean cool mist humidifier

tips for cleaning a humidifier

The general recommendation is once a week. But a not-so-general recommendation is to clean it as often as possible.

For instance, if you are using tap water in the unit, you might need to clean the unit at least three times a week. This prevents the formation of scale on the walls of the tank.

Not many people use a humidifier every day for long hours. But if you do, you should clean it daily. This makes it more efficient.

When you clean your unit, you get clean mist in your space. Therefore, your health is not at risk. You can also prevent the formation of mold in the tank, which would then be dispersed with the mist.

The more often you can clean your unit, the better. If not cleaned, it can make you sick. It can lead to an increase of allergens like dust mites, and fungi.

How to keep a cool-mist humidifier clean

How to keep a cool mist humidifier clean

The only way to keep any humidifier clean is by cleaning it, well, mostly.

However, the type of water you use in the unit can also determine how clean it will stay. If you use dirty water in the unit, the filters will become dirty too fast.

Therefore, using clean water in the unit is another way to keep it clean. Instead of using tap water, use distilled water.

It is clean, it does not contain many minerals. There is no need to boil water for the humidifier since it does not remove minerals. Filtering it is better.

Keep the humidifier in a clean environment. If you keep it in an area with mold spores, they will get into the tank and start a colony.

If you keep the humidifier in a dusty place, grime will start forming. That’s what happens when water mixes with dust.

Finally, maintain a cleaning schedule. If you use it daily, clean it daily. If a few times a week, clean it a few times a week.

Recommendation for your cool mist humidifier

Warm mist humidifiers kill germs because they boil water. But cool mist humidifiers do not. When you know that you will not be using it in the next few days, empty the tank. This can prevent the occurrence of humidifier lung and other illnesses.

Do not leave it with water because water makes a good environment for bacteria. This also applies when you are taking the humidifier to storage.

With good maintenance, the humidifier should last a long time.

Lastly, humidifiers are known to fail after cleaning. This mostly happens because water drips into the circuitry.

If this happens, air-dry the unit for as long as need be, until all the water into the circuitry is gone.


That is how easy it is to clean a cool mist humidifier. Make an effort to clean yours at least once a week if you do not run it full-time.

However, if you run it daily, you need to clean it more often, perhaps three times a week.

The more often you clean it, the less work you will have to do because the scale will not form on the tank walls.