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How to Clean a Humidifier

Jennifer L. Betts
Baby girl with a humidifier

If you or your child suffer from asthma or allergies, then a humidifier can be a lifesaver. Even if you don't suffer from these afflictions, you may enjoy having one because a humidifier can make the air cooler and easier to breathe. However, it is important for you to clean your humidifier properly to ensure that you don't get sick.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

For many people, vinegar is a go-to for any kind of cleaning. This is doubly true when you are trying to remove minerals and residue from your humidifier.

What You Need

  • A large container
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Soft bristle brush (a toothbrush works great)
  • Towel


Air humidifier being cleaned
  1. Disassemble the machine. Lay all the removable parts separately, being very careful with the motor.
  2. Fill a large container with a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture. Put the removable parts and the filter in the mixture and allow them to soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour a generous amount of white vinegar into the base of the humidifier and the water tank. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes as well.
  4. Drain the vinegar from the water tank and the base of the humidifier.
  5. Visually check the different areas of the humidifier for remaining residue. Wet the toothbrush and dip it into the baking soda. Gently scrub away the residue.
  6. Rinse the entire machine and all the various parts.
  7. Lay out the towel and allow all the parts to completely dry then reassemble the machine.

Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil

If you are looking for an acid to remove water residue and antibacterial then vinegar and tea tree oil are a one-two punch. They will not only make your machine run better, it is disinfected at the same time.

What You Need

  • Tea tree oil
  • White Vinegar
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Large container
  • Towel


  1. Take the entire machine apart and put the loose pieces in a large container with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Add a couple of drops of tea tree oil.
  2. Pour a generous amount of vinegar into the base and water tank of the machine. Add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil. Allow the mixture to sit for 20-30 minutes.
  3. After the allotted time, take the brush and gently scrub the residue off the base and in the tank. Pay attention to the corners and edges.
  4. Give everything a good rinse.
  5. Lay all the parts on a towel to dry. You don't want any moisture when you reassemble it back together because this will allow mold to grow.
  6. Put everything back together and give it a try.

Disinfecting Your Humidifier

To really deep clean your machine, you will want to disinfect it too. This means that you will use a bacterial killer like bleach or peroxide with water to knock out any staph lingering in your machine.

What You Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide or bleach
  • Water
  • Bowl for mixing

Additionally, since bleach can be dangerous for skin, gloves are recommended.


  1. Fill the tank and add either a tablespoon of bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Allow this to sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove and dry thoroughly.

Using a Commercial Cleaner

If you don't want the hassle of having to scrub and bleach your machine, there are different cleaners on the market.

  • BestAir 3BT helps control the algae and bacteria within humidifiers.
  • Essick Air 1970 also offers a bacteriostatic treatment that cleans and deodorizes the machine.

How to Use

To use a commercial cleaner, you simply follow the directions on the label. These may call for adding the cleaner to the humidifier and running it or letting it sit.

Breathing Clearly

Breathing is important. And for some people, humidifiers are a necessity. However, this useful machine must be cleaned regularly to avoid mold, germs and bacteria. There are different methods that you can use to clean your machine like vinegar and baking soda.

How to Clean a Humidifier