How To Disinfect A Humidifier [GUIDE]

A humidifier combats the chilly temperatures that make your home unbearably dry. It emits cool vapor to prevent respiratory infections, chapped lips, and dry skin.

When this appliance is not cleaned well, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Dirty humidifiers are problematic as they make users susceptible to allergies and asthma. Here is an all-inclusive guide on how to disinfect a humidifier.

What you need to disinfect your humidifier

You need basic household essentials like vinegar, bleach, clean towels, plenty of water, a soft-bristle brush, and a pair of gloves. The main components are a large water tank and an operating base. While some models may contain additional pieces, all plastic components are cleaned in the same fashion. Remember, each unit is constructed differently.

How to disinfect cool mist humidifiers

These units have no heating element so they disperse moisture in the form of steam. Because they are designed to use tap water, bacteria may buildup over time. You must disinfect the humidifier to keep it in proper working condition.

First, disconnect from the power outlet and move it in a well-lit area. Drain the tank and separate it from the heating element. You may want to consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Fill the water tank with one gallon with water and then add bleach or vinegar. Allow the solution to sit in for 20-30 minutes and scrub with a sponge. Put in smaller pieces and scrub lightly with a brush. Next, clean the wick filter.

This is the part that holds moisture. Once you clean it, allow it to sit on a clean towel. Most manufacturers recommend that you avoid using cleaning solutions on the wick. In case it’s caked with mineral deposits, replace it with a new one. If there’s any grime on your humidifier, pour some vinegar on the brush and scrub gently.

Avoid submerging the base of the tank or any part with electrical wire. If you’re using vinegar, you may want to disinfect the parts for a couple of hours. After that, pour the cleaning solution from the tank and rinse with cold water.

If the unit comes with a separate pickup tube, use a clean cloth to wipe it. Allow all parts to dry completely before reassembling. Return the humidifier to its original position. For best results, you can use vinegar alone or add one tsp. of bleach. Unless otherwise directed, don’t use abrasive cleaners, soap, or detergents.

How to disinfect warm mist humidifiers

These units disperse the warm mist of air by heating water. Before you disable the unit, you should allow it to cool down. Remove the tray and the misting chamber. Pour one cup of undiluted vinegar into the base and leave it for 30 minutes.

After that, clean with a sponge and rinse thoroughly. Wipe the misting chamber, water tray, and the exterior portions. Lastly, wipe the excess water and reassemble the unit.

Make sure you keep the appliance away from upholstery and fabric. Stagnant water is a magnet for bacteria, so make sure you disinfect the unit regularly to protect the family members.

How often should you disinfect a humidifier?

This will depend on how often you use the unit. It’s recommended that you clean your humidifier three times a week.

If you use it during the dry season, clean it once a month. Also, if water has been standing in your unit for 24-36 hours you should disinfect it before use.

Benefits of disinfecting your humidifier

When you disinfect your humidifier, you prevent harmful bacterial from dispersing into the air. Without proper cleaning, the water in the tank will sit there and stagnate. This will not only contaminate your indoor air but can also be detrimental to your health.

In most extreme cases, long-term exposure to contaminated air can lead to respiratory infections. When you disinfect your humidifier, you’ll eliminate severe coughs, asthma attacks, lung inflammation, and more. Just take a couple of minutes and disinfect your unit before you use it.

Can you use bleach to disinfect your humidifier?

If you use a humidifier regularly, you can use bleach to disinfect the unit. It kills any mold growing inside the unit. To make the perfect solution, add a half cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Run the appliance until it starts to mist and then turn it off. Run out the bleach and rinse with water. Keep rinsing until you no longer smell the mist.

If the manufacturer warns against using bleach, don’t use it as you risk damaging the unit. Instead, use hydrogen peroxide (3%). Another substitute for bleach is undiluted white vinegar. When using this all-natural cleaner, you should disinfect the appliance every 2-3 days.

It’s best if you clean the unit outdoors. There’s also a risk that bleach can damage your upholstery and carpets. Of course, you have to wear gloves when working with bleach.

Another natural disinfectant is mixing white vinegar with tea tree oil. Once you disable the unit, you should put small amounts of vinegar and tea tree oil at the base of the humidifier.

Allow it to soak for 30 minutes and then use a brush to remove any deposits buildup. Finally, rinse with warm water. If you don’t fancy homemade cleaning agents, you can use ready-made disinfectants.

Regular tips when disinfecting your humidifier

To ensure you get the most from your unit, you should deep clean once a week. This will ensure the air it disperses in your house is not compromised with bacteria. Apart from that, you should rinse the water basin after every use.

It wouldn’t hurt to empty and disinfect the basin every day. Most manufacturers recommend that you use distilled water instead of tap water. This is because tap water contains mineral deposits that can be dispersed into the air through water vapor.

It’s worth noting that such water aid in bacteria growth. If you’re using the humidifier during the dry season, you should disinfect before storage. Make sure there’s no damp area within the appliance.

Bottom line

If you live in a dry area, buying a humidifier is one of the smartest decisions you can ever make. But just like any other household appliance, this unit needs regular cleaning and disinfecting. Most manufacturers recommend bleach as a strong disinfectant.

White vinegar is a natural cleaning solution but it’s not as effective as bleach. Before you disinfect the unit, be sure to review the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep in mind that you’ll breathe the cleaning agent you use in the unit.

If you follow the above guide, you’ll greatly reduce the nasty contaminants that cause illnesses.