How to Clean a Humidifier – A Step-By-Step Guide

How to clean Humidify

It’s been months since you invested in a humidifier, but you still struggle to sleep well. Your nose, throat, and eyes feel itchy, and you have dry skin. Your allergy and asthma symptoms may be getting worse.

You know the humidifier isn’t faulty because you’ve tried increasing the speed to maximum, and it worked just fine—but emitted even more mist. The problem isn’t the humidifier; it’s the dirt and grime inside it. It’s high time you learnt how to clean out a humidifier—the right way.

Cleaning your humidifier is the best way to get it to work as it should. However, your humidifier user manual may not show you how. In this guide, we’ll show you how to clean a humidifier, how to clean a humidifier filter, how to clean a humidifier tank, and also how to clean a humidifier with mold.

Let’s get right to it.

Why You Need to Clean Your Humidifier

Why bother when you could be spending more time relaxing and less time doing house chores?

You have more reasons than one to clean your humidifier. For starters, cleaning it just takes a couple of minutes. Here are more reasons to clean a humidifier regularly.

1. It Kills Bad Bacteria, Yeast, and Mold

You invested in a good humidifier to moisturize your home and to protect yourself from respiratory infections such as the flu, asthma, coughs, and airway allergies.  

But because a humidifier holds water, it may be a breeding ground for mold and microbes. Moisture can encourage the growth of microbes that could make your symptoms worse. The thing is, microbes can grow in even the best humidifiers.

Learning how to clean a humidifier filter and tank—and doing it regularly—can prevent a potential health crisis before it happens.  

2. It Prevents the Humidifier from Pumping Out Harmful Bacteria and Minerals

If you let microbes grow inside your humidifier, you expose yourself—and your loved ones—to a myriad of respiratory infections.

The Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah reported that an infant contracted tachypnea, prolonged hypoxemia, pneumonitis, failure to thrive, and a nonreversible lung injury from inhaling mineral residue from an ultrasonic home humidifier.

Treating these conditions, especially in young children, can be the toughest, most expensive, and emotionally-draining experience. The last thing you want is your family to get sick simply because you didn’t clean the humidifier.

3. The Humidifier Won’t Work as It Should—or Last Long—Without Regular Cleaning

You took your time to read numerous humidifier buying guides. You also scoured the internet for the best humidifier on the market. And then you spent money to buy the best one for your needs and budget.

All that effort will amount to nothing if you don’t set aside time every now and then to clean your humidifier. It will break down faster, more often, and cost you more money and time.

How Often Should You Clean Your Humidifier?

So, how many times should you clean a humidifier to get its full benefits?

Humidifier manufacturers usually give recommendations on how often you should clean your unit. This information is typically found on the humidifier user manual or label. These are the recommended periods:

  • During the dry season
  • Several times during a dry winter season
  • Before storage

The U.S. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommends cleaning your portable humidifier every third day.

The American Lung Association’s Assistant Vice President of National Policy, Janice Nolen, recommends cleaning your humidifier daily.

If you experience symptoms that indicate your house needs a humidifier, even though you already have one, it’s important to clean it on a daily basis.

Feel like cleaning it daily is too much work? It doesn’t have to be, if you know how to clean a humidifier tank properly.

You can learn how to clean a humidifier with mold in just minutes!

But first…

What Do You Need to Clean a Humidifier?

Below are some things you need to properly clean your humidifier.

  • Water: Not just any water, the EPA recommends using bottled water that’s clearly labeled “distilled” or “purified” to humidify your spaces. But you don’t have to use that kind for the humidifier-cleaning process. Should you use tap water to clean a humidifier? No, use low-mineral water.
  • A soft-bristle brush: Like a nylon dish brush or a soft toothbrush. You do not want to damage components such as the filter, vent, belt, and tank walls.
  • Clean towels and a sponge: You’ll need to dry the humidifier, especially if it’s the end of the dry season and you intend to store it for a while.
  • White vinegar: Ensure the vinegar is undiluted and distilled.
  • Liquid chlorine bleach or 3% hydrogen peroxide: Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals. A 2016 study confirmed some humidifier disinfectants were the cause of reported cases of lung injuries in Korea in 2011.
  • Rubber gloves: These help protect your hands from the effects of cleaning agents.

Three Ways to Properly Clean a Humidifier (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning humidifier mold, bacteria, yeast, and minerals.

A. Basic Cleaning: How to Clean a Humidifier with Vinegar and Water

how to clean a humidifier tank

You can do this as regularly as possible.


  1. Unplug the humidifier from the wall outlet
  2. Take the machine outside to a well-ventilated and well-lit area
  3. Remove the filter, following the manufacturer’s disassembling instructions.
  4. Rinse it with water. No cleaning products are necessary as they can damage the filter. Place the filter on a clean towel to air-dry
  5. Remove the humidifier reservoir and pour out any old water
  6. Put on your rubber gloves and measure 3 cups of undiluted, white distilled vinegar (can be 50% diluted if you clean daily)
  7. Pour the white vinegar in the tank and gently shake the tank to ensure the vinegar reaches the sides and the bottom.
  8. Pour a generous amount at the base of the machine as well  
  9. Set aside for 30 minutes
  10. Take your brush and carefully scrub the sides, bottom, and any tight crevices of the tank and the base. Be careful not to drench the motor.
  11. Dampen the sponge with undiluted white vinegar and wipe down the tank and the base’s exterior
  12. Pour out the liquid
  13. In turns, rinse the base and the tank with plenty of low-mineral water until the vinegar scent is gone
  14. Visually inspect to confirm no more film or residue remains on the walls and bottom of both the tank and the base. If there’s any, feel free to repeat the process. You can use baking soda with water for the second round.
  15. When clean, leave both units to air-dry in a clean and well-ventilated spot
  16. Re-assemble the humidifier and add distilled or purified water
  17. Plug it into an outdoor power outlet (to ensure it functions optimally) and run it for 20 minutes before taking it back inside

B. How to Clean a Humidifier with Bleach

Like below, this will be useful if you’re looking to find out how to clean a humidifier with mold. Follow these steps to remove humidifier mold with chlorine bleach.


  1. After unplugging the unit from a power outlet, removing the filter, and putting on your gloves, mix 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon (3.75 liters) of water
  2. Pour ¾ of the solution in the tank over the base. Swish it to ensure all sides are covered. Let it drain to the base
  3. Take the remaining ¼ solution, dampen your sponge, and wipe the outer surface of the machine
  4. Set the machine aside for no more than 1 hour
  5. Pour out the solution and rinse the machine using low-mineral water until the bleach scent disappears
  6. Air-dry the machine on a clean towel outside
  7. Reassemble it, add purified or distilled water, and power it on. Let the machine run for 20 minutes before taking it back inside

C. How to Clean A Humidifier With Mold – Disinfecting the Humidifier with Hydrogen Peroxide

You can decide to do this to sanitize your humidifier every third day or once in a week.


  1. After unplugging the humidifier from the wall outlet, place the machine in a well-ventilated spot outdoors and put on your gloves
  2. Fill the humidifier tank with 1 part of hydrogen peroxide (3% hydrogen peroxide) for every 4 parts of water. Add the peroxide first
  3. Dampen a sponge with 3% hydrogen peroxide and wipe down the outer sides of the machine
  4. Leave the solution undisturbed for 30 minutes and then pour it out
  5. Rinse the humidifier until the hydrogen peroxide odor is gone
  6. Inspect to ensure the humidifier’s components are totally clean. Repeat the process if necessary
  7. Reassemble the machine, add distilled or purified water, and plug it into an outdoor outlet (if you need to). Run it for 20 minutes
  8. Take it back indoors and plug it in

And there you have it! A squeaky clean, sanitized humidifier in under 60 minutes.

You can also do deep cleaning before storing the humidifier. After it has dried, place a small, open container holding baking soda inside it to further discourage bacteria growth during storage.

Humidifier Cleaning FAQs

Humidifier Cleaning FAQs

1. How Often Should I Clean My Humidifier?

The director of product safety at Consumer Reports, Don Huber, recommends cleaning your humidifier daily. You can also check your humidifier’s user manual, packaging, or safety pullout for cleaning recommendations. 

2. Can I Use Baking Soda to Clean a Humidifier?

Yes. However, it’s best to use it after cleaning the humidifier tank with white vinegar. Wet your cleaning brush and apply baking soda on it. Then gently but firmly scrub off any remaining, stubborn residue.

3. Is It Safe to Mix Vinegar and Bleach to Clean a Humidifier?

Never mix bleach with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide with vinegar as they could react and form harmful-to-inhale byproducts. They may also damage the humidifier’s components.

4. Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean a Humidifier?

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar as a humidifier cleaner. Follow the same steps you’d use with white distilled vinegar

5. I Clean My Humidifier Daily But My Symptoms Persist. What Do I Do?

Consider replacing the humidifier if you’ve used it for a while. You can get a new humidifier that’s easy to clean and maintain—like a TaoTronics Humidifier.

Choose a High-Quality Humidifier That’s Easy to Use and Maintain

TaoTronics humidifiers feature an extra-wide tank opening and provide up to 160 milliliters per hour, so you can humidify your spaces in minutes and avoid medical emergencies. The extra-wide tank opening also makes cleaning a breeze – you won’t wonder how to clean a humidifier tank any more!

There are many models to choose from—from TaoTronics cool mist humidifiers for the bedroom to 5.5-liter, warm-and-cool mist humidifiers. You can easily choose the best humidifier for your unique situation.

For example, BPA-free TaoTronics humidifiers for babies are made out of safe and high-quality materials. And thanks to the TaoTronics Humidifier Noise-Reduction Technology (patented), your baby won’t wake up at night as the humidifier produces no noise.

You can also take advantage of the auto switch-off function and you’ll never have to wake up to switch off your humidifier. Other great features include a great price, a lengthy warranty, and quick delivery. A TaoTronics humidifier offers great value for money.

How Do I Clean My Taotronics Humidifier?

TaoTronics humidifiers come with a cleaning brush and a user manual written in English. This means you can quickly learn to disassemble, reassemble, and clean your humidifier. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions we’ve offered here to clean and disinfect your TaoTronics humidifier.  

Stay Healthy By Cleaning Your Humidifier Regularly

how to clean a humidifier

Your health is a priority, so dedicating a few minutes to learning how to clean a humidifier is a smart decision. Use these humidifier cleaning tips to keep your home healthy no matter the season. By knowing how to clean a humidifier tank and how to clean a humidifier with mold, you’ll avoid medical emergencies, steer clear of hospital bills, and have a good night’s rest. Say goodbye to allergies once and for all.  

Remember to regularly replace worn out humidifier parts, especially the filter. You can even get an antimicrobial filter for your peace of mind. If you’ve owned your humidifier for a while, or it doesn’t work as well as it used to, feel free to invest in a new humidifier. You deserve it.

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Amy Blandford is a writer for TaoTronics who specializes in all things humidifier, diffuser and air purifier related. When she’s not advocating the many health benefits of the soothing air courtesy of these products, she’s probably practicing yoga or caring for her many plants.

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