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How to clean your humidifier and what happens if you don’t

Having a humidifier in your home is a major plus – you reap the benefits of softer skin and relief from coughing, sinus, and cracked lips. Plus, you’re keeping your hardwood flooring safe from new gaps forming. But how often do you clean your humidifier, and did you know that if you don’t, you could be putting yourself at risk?

Why should I clean my humidifier?

When you don’t empty and clean your humidifier regularly, you run the risk of it becoming clogged with mineral buildup, and you’re creating the perfect breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and mold.

The first issue with leaving your humidifier uncleaned is that mineral buildup (left behind from tap water) can clog your device and stop it from functioning as it should. With visible mist humidifiers, this will mess with the heating element or nebuliser, keeping the device from doing its job. Similarly, with invisible mist humidifiers, mineral buildup can clog the filter and hamper the device’s function.

Mineral buildup aside, another risk of leaving your humidifier uncleaned is that the moisture inside of it creates the perfect conditions for mold and bacteria growth.  With a visible mist device, this mold and bacteria could be released into the air. Similarly, with invisible moisture humidifiers, mold and bacteria can clog up your filter and create a ‘nasty’ odour, which also prevents the humidifier from working as it should.

How to clean your humidifier

There are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that your humidifier is always clean and safe from buildup, bacteria and mold.

Give it a daily rinse and refill

This simple step will go a long way towards keeping your humidifier clean and functioning in optimal condition.

If you use your humidifier daily, simply give it a rinse and refill it with clean water before switching it on. If you’re using a filtered humidifier, you may want to flip your filter around each time you refill the tank with clean water.

Unclog and disinfect weekly

If you’re using your humidifier frequently, it’s essential to do a weekly unclog and disinfect. Start by emptying and wiping down your humidifier with white vinegar to remove mineral buildup. Then, use a bleach solution to disinfect. Before cleaning with products, always check your owner’s manual to ensure you’re not going against recommended cleaning instructions.

Replace the filter

If your humidifier makes use of a filter, it should be replaced every 30-60 days. Also, filters cannot be cleaned with detergents, chemicals or soaps. However, if your filter has hardened, you can loosen it by soaking in cool water, but be aware that you may need to replace it soon. Additionally, if your filter has visible mold growth or is giving off an odour, that’s your sign to replace as soon as possible.

Give it a seasonal reset

If the humidifier is going to be packed away for the seasons in which you don’t need it, always make sure to unclog and disinfect it before storing it away, and make sure that it is 100% dry. This will ensure that the device is in good working condition for the next season.


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