Dry desert air + cold winter weather = time to break out the humidifier! If you’re using this tool, you’ll want to make sure you’re cleaning it correctly. Read on for top tips.
Experts agree: Humidifiers can be a health benefit during the winter months. Viruses and bacteria transmit easily in dry air, but humid air makes it more difficult for them to travel. Winter air can also dry out your sinuses and throat, lowering your resistance to bacteria and viruses.
Using a humidifier may help you avoid getting sick this winter, but a dirty humidifier can potentially worsen respiratory problems. It’s important to clean it regularly during use and to deep clean it before storing it for next season.
Cleaning your humidifier is easier than you think. Here’s how:
- Drain and unplug your humidifier.
- Replace (or rinse) the filter. Some humidifiers recommend replacing the filter completely, while others use the rinsing method (consult the manual for specific directions for your humidifier). Humidifier filters help determine the air quality within your home and are important in the optimum functioning of your humidifier. If your humidifier needs to be rinsed, place it under the faucet and rinse it with cold water to wash away any impurities. Let it dry on a clean towel while you clean the remaining parts.
Chemicals can permanently damage the filter, so don’t use cleaning solutions to clean the filter.
- Wash the water tank. Fill the empty tank with enough vinegar (or hydrogen peroxide) to cover the bottom and part of the sides of the tank. Swish it around in the tank, turning the sealed tank upside down and shaking it. Let it sit for 1-2 hours. If necessary, use a small brush to scrub away grime or mineral buildup at the bottom of the water tank. Rinse the tank thoroughly when you’re finished. The vinegar (or peroxide) acts as a natural cleanser loosening up buildup from the bottom of the water tank. Using another type of cleaner may be hazardous, considering the liquid from the water tank gets pumped into the air. (Some water tanks are dishwasher safe. Consult the manufacturer instructions on cleaning your tank in the dishwasher.)
- Clean the base. Drain the base, then fill the base with enough vinegar (or hydrogen peroxide) to cover the bottom. Let it sit for 1-2 hours. Use a small brush to break up any debris (some ultrasonic humidifiers come with their own brush, so use the one which comes with the unit to avoid damaging any parts). Drain the base, rinse with cold water and let air dry.
- Wipe down the frame, then reassemble. Use a sponge dampened with vinegar and water to wipe the remaining parts of the humidifier. This prevents dust and other debris from entering the water tank and inhibits the growth of mold or bacteria. Put all the clean parts of your humidifier back together and fill with fresh water.
With these tips in mind, please remember: If you or your child has asthma or allergies, talk with your doctor before using a humidifier. Humid air may ease breathing in children and adults who have asthma or allergies, especially during a respiratory infection such as a cold. But dirty mist or increased growth of allergens caused by too much humidity can trigger or worsen asthma and allergy symptoms.