If we're being totally honest, we don't give our humidifiers enough credit. Sure, a humidifier isn't as essential as, say, an oven or smoke detector; however, the moisture boost they give makes our days at home a lot more enjoyable. So, why shouldn't we give it some TLC with a thorough clean every now and then?
Since a humidifier injects moisture into your room, you might think it's a low-maintenance, self-cleaning machine. But, in reality? It's one of the most important appliances to keep in tip-top shape. Don't worry, keeping your humidifier in pristine condition isn't as difficult as you'd think. Want proof? We tapped cleaning expert Dean Davies to show you how it's done.
Meet the Expert
Dean Davies is a cleaning expert at Fantastic Cleaners. This British company does everything from clean carpets to sanitize spaces to, yes, maintain your favorite appliances.
Step One: Prep Your Humidifier
Though your humidifier deals with water all day, every day, it's still an electrical appliance and should be treated with the utmost care. So, before you get started, Davies recommends prepping your machine for a thorough clean.
"Unplug your humidifier from the power source and then completely disassemble it," he recommends.
And, while you're at it? Go ahead and empty out the old water.
Step Two: Enlist White Vinegar
Little did you know, the secret to cleaning your humidifier might be already lurking in your kitchen cabinet. Davies is a big fan of using distilled white vinegar, which is so acidic that it can successfully dislodge and dissolve dirt, grease, and grime — all without harsh chemicals. For best results, Davies recommends filling the humidifier's base with distilled white vinegar so that the heating element is completely submerged in it.
"Leave it for 30 minutes," he adds. "This will help remove any scale or mineral build-up from the heating element."
But, don't put that white vinegar away just yet; Davies recommends filling your humidifier's reservoir with equal parts water and vinegar.
"Close it and shake it vigorously to get the solution all over the reservoir’s interior," he shares. "Then let it sit for around 30 minutes."
Clean your humidifier once a week to keep it in tip-top shape.
Step Three: Scrub Away
Though distilled white vinegar does an incredible job of cutting through stubborn grit and grime, it's not foolproof. After those 30 minutes are up, you might need to apply some elbow grease — especially if this is the first time in a long time you've cleaned your humidifier. Don't worry, Davies has you covered.
"Once the time’s up, empty the humidifier’s base and use a toothbrush or cotton swab to scrub any leftover gunk from the heating element and base," he shares. "Rinse well and use a paper towel to dry it off."
As for your humidifier's reservoir? Davies recommends rinsing out the water and vinegar mixture, and wiping the interior with a microfiber cloth.
Step Four: Soak the Rest
Chances are, there's more to your humidifier than a base and reservoir. If your model has a bunch of smaller parts, Davies recommends soaking them in a mix of warm, soapy water and vinegar. (Isn't that distilled white vinegar such a game-changer?) Similar to the rest of your humidifier, he recommends soaking these smaller accessories for 30 minutes.
The one thing you don't want to soak is your wick filter, which is the plush layer that sits at the bottom of your humidifier and absorbs all the water. Not only does this filter have a paper-like texture, but it also has antimicrobial properties that can potentially deteriorate when washed. Instead, just replace the filter.
Step Five: Let it Dry
Congratulations! You're almost done cleaning your humidifier. After all parts have been soaked and scrubbed to your liking, it's time to rinse them off and let 'em dry. Since your humidifier is electrical, you want to be extra careful before you plug this back in. Once everything is dried, reassemble your humidifier and score that extra moisture boost.