Breathe easy: How to clean a humidifier in 4 easy steps

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For people who live in dry climates or have sinus problems, humidifiers are a godsend. But to get the best out of your appliance, you’re going to have to clean it often, even if it’s a top-tier humidifier. Learning how to clean a humidifier can seem intimidating, but after you learn how to clean it from us, the only thing that’ll be dry at your house is your dad’s sense of humor.

Note: This is a general outline on how to clean your humidifier. If you have your humidifier’s manual, refer to it before you attempt to clean it.

How to clean your humidifier, step by step

Before you get started, get the supplies you’ll need to clean your humidifier. You won’t need any heavy duty tools, just some vinegar, water and a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Step 1: Unplug your humidifier. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t want to damage it (or yourself) then you’ll want to make sure it’s unplugged. After you do that, go ahead and take out the humidifier’s air filter. If your filter looks dirty, clean it with cool water. After you take off the filter, remove the water tank.

Some of the best humidifiers available don’t allow you to take apart the water tank and the base. Only take apart whatever your humidifier allows you to.

Step 2: Once everything is disassembled, fill the base and/or tank with white vinegar. After it’s filled, let it sit for 30-45 minutes.

Step 3: After 45 minutes, pour out the vinegar and use a toothbrush to brush away any grime that’s still stuck on your humidifier. If it doesn’t seem to be coming off, then pour some vinegar directly onto your brush and scrub the grime spot.

Step 4: Once all the grime is brushed away, you’ll notice that your humidifier still smells of that horrible vinegar. To get rid of the smell, thoroughly rinse your base and tank with warm water and then let it air dry.

How often should I clean my humidifier?

It depends on how often you use it. If you need to use your humidifier all day every day, then you should deep clean it once a week. If it’s just used at night or sporadically during dry seasons, then clean it at least once a month. Be sure to also fill your humidifier with distilled water. Distilled water has fewer minerals, which means there’s less grime in your humidifier (it also produces fewer bacteria in the air).