We talk a great deal about humidifiers, especially during the winter months. They're just a basic need to help eliminate dry skin, plus they can reduce air born illnesses, but do you know how often you should be cleaning yours — or how to go about it? It's easier than you think, check out the details after the jump!
What You Need
2-3 cups White Vinegar
Bottle Brush (if required)
1 teaspoon Bleach (optional)
1. Break Down: After pouring out any remaining water in tank, take apart your humidifier and lay the piece out in front of you. Most humidifiers will have a lock or catch to remove a piece over the heating element, so if it feels like it should break down a little more, chances are it will (refer to your manual for specific instructions on this).
2. Add Vinegar: Vinegar is your best friend when it comes to humidifiers. It eliminates the need for bleach (though some still like knowing their unit is extra clean and use 1 teaspoon to the following mixes) and cleans things on the cheap. You'll add your vinegar to two separate places: the water tank and base.
For weekly cleaning, add 1/4 cup white vinegar plus 2 cups tap water to tank. Replace lid to tank, shake and dump. For more intense monthly cleaning you may add as much vinegar as you like and allow to sit for several hours. For the base, you'll pour the vinegar over your heating element area, which is usually denounced by the presence of deposits on the unit. Use enough vinegar to cover all deposits and let sit for 30 minutes. For longer cleaning, allow a longer time to sit for several hours or overnight.
If you have pieces that are removable that need a vinegar soak, place them in a bowl and cover with vinegar to help eliminate deposits. Some pieces are able to go in a dishwasher, make sure to check your manual to ensure there won't be any melting! Use a bottle brush to dislodge deposits after the vinegar has done its job, you shouldn't need to use anything to "chip them off," re-soak if needed.
3. Rinse: Empty all vinegar and fill tank and heating area with tap water, shaking to dislodge any remaining deposits and to rinse out the lovely smell. It might take a few fills and shakes to get rid of all the smell, though allowing each piece to air dry fully should make it all dissipate fully.
Additional Notes: For particularly stubborn build up you might need to change your vinegar out. If your build up is "fizzing" then the vinegar is doing it's job of breaking it down and tearing it away. If it stops, changing out your vinegar can be more effective than using sharp objects to scrape it away.
Weekly cleaning should only involve a quick swish and shake, but once a month it doesn't hurt to let the vinegar sit for 4-8 hours to let it get a little extra cleaning power!
Note: Though this is a general guide, we do suggest you check out the manufacturers instructions for your specific humidifier model. Even if you're manual is long gone, you can usually find it online. Some models aren't built to have vinegar/water in the base and we strongly suggest double checking to make sure yours does before following through with the instructions below!
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(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)