How to Clean Your Humidifier
Keep mold from growing in the tank and blowing into the air in your home
A humidifier in your home can prevent dry, itchy skin. The moisture it pumps into the air can reduce the likelihood that people in your household will suffer from dry sinuses, nosebleeds, and cracked lips, the Mayo Clinic says. And a humidifier can mitigate the symptoms of colds and respiratory ailments.
But a humidifier that’s not maintained? It can be unhealthy.
What to Do Daily and Weekly
To prevent the growth of mold and other contaminants, we recommend rinsing, towel-drying, and refilling your humidifier’s tank with fresh water daily. Once a week the tank and the base’s well need a deeper cleaning and sanitizing. Replace filters and wicks according to the maker’s recommended schedule.
Some manufacturers suggest using bleach to sanitize. That approach can be effective, but James Dickerson, PhD, CR’s chief scientific officer, points out it has risks. “Bleach can degrade some plastics and seals that keep the unit watertight and structurally sound,” he says.
Here’s the routine Consumer Reports recommends:
Remove the Tank From the Base
To the well of the base, add either 1 cup of vinegar or ½ cup each of vinegar and water.
Use the Cleaning Tool
Reach into crevices and scrub off scale in the well. Rinse until no vinegar smell remains. Towel dry.
Pour 1 Cup Each of Vinegar and Water Into the Tank
Cap the tank and let soak for 20 minutes, swishing or shaking periodically. Pour out solution and rinse until no smell remains. Towel dry.
What to Do Seasonally
When you’re ready to store your humidifier, first dry it thoroughly. And after taking it out of storage, fill the tank only when you’re ready to use it.
Need a New Humidifier?
Do you find your current humidifier a challenge to keep clean? Here are models that rate well in our tests for convenience. Each model’s convenience score reflects ease of cleaning as well as the unit’s weight, how easy the tank is to empty and fill from a bathroom or kitchen sink, and whether its parts can be put into a dishwasher. (You can filter the ratings to find models with higher convenience scores.)
For Small Rooms
(26 to 299 sq. ft.)
For Medium-Sized Rooms
(300 to 499 sq. ft.)
For Large Rooms
(500 to 999 sq. ft.)
(1,000 sq. ft. or more)