How to Clean a Humidifier

How to Clean a Humidifier

A humidifier can make dry air feel better and boost the effectiveness of your nose’s cilia. Just remember that it needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid the growth of mold spores and bacteria, which can be inhaled.

Both warm and cool mist humidifiers can get moldy if not cleaned regularly, which can lead to breathing in harmful mold spores.

Cool Mist

When the temperature drops, cool-mist humidifiers eject water vapor that increases the humidity level in a room. Cool-mist models use significantly less energy than steam-based vaporizers, Kollontai says. They work without boiling water, which requires a substantial amount of electricity. They’re also less likely to generate white dust (mineral deposits that can cling to surfaces) than warm-mist units that use a heating element to create steam.

Like vaporizers, cool-mist units can help with breathing issues like nasal passage congestion and dry coughing. They can also reduce the amount of indoor allergens like pollen, pet dander and mold, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Humidifiers increase moisture in the air, which helps prevent the dry skin that can cause itching and cracking. They can also help preserve mist humidifier wood furnishings by filling the air with enough moisture to prevent drying and warping.

If you’re concerned about potential health risks, look for a humidifier that has an internal filter or is equipped with antimicrobial technology to kill bacteria and germs. Also, make sure you clean and disinfect the tank on a regular basis to avoid building up bacteria or mold. This Levoit Ultrasonic Humidifier has a large tank and an adjustable 360-degree nozzle that lets you direct the mist where you need it. It’s easy to refill and connects to your phone, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for remote and hands-free control.

Warm Mist

As their name suggests, warm mist humidifiers add a bit of heat to your home air. They work by boiling water in a reservoir and either dispersing hot steam into the room or keeping the water cool and turning it into droplets that spread throughout the space. This type of humidifier works well for easing sinus congestion and throat irritation, and many include special compartments or medicine cups where you can add vapor rubs and other soothing inhalants to improve your breathing.

Because they do involve a heating element, these models pose a higher risk of mold and bacteria if the tank isn’t cleaned properly. Ogden recommends using a disinfectant that is safe to use in your home to keep the machine free of film, scum, and crust that can cause irritation. Also, be sure to empty and rinse the tank daily.

Some warm mist humidifiers have fans that blow the steam into the room, but some work without one and are quieter. You should use distilled water to avoid minerals and other impurities being diffused into the air (especially if you have hard water), because these can trigger allergies or asthma. You should also keep a humidity monitor in the room to avoid moisture levels dropping below 50%, which can lead to dust mites and mold.


A vaporizer heats water to produce steam that is then dispersed into the air. Some people find the soothing vapor from these devices helpful for breathing relief and the easing of chest congestion. You can also add vapor rubs or essential oils to Misting humidifier manufacturer a vaporizer for aromatherapy and additional relief of symptoms. However, the vapor may warm the air and can be dangerous for infants and small children, who could get burned by touching it.

Unlike humidifiers, vaporizers can also be used to add medications for inhalation to ease breathing difficulties and congestion. These units have a long history; Herodotus recorded in 440 BC that Scythians threw herbs on hot stones to make them into vapor, and ancient Greeks distilled herbal compounds to create vaporizers.

Vaporizers can be a good choice for humidifying bedrooms in cold climates or during the winter when heating makes the air dry, and they are often less expensive than humidifiers. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and disinfecting your unit to avoid damage. Keep it out of reach of children and pets, and away from flammable objects. Never use water with added substances such as vapor rubs or essential oils, which can cause chemical irritation to the skin and lungs. Also, be sure to use distilled water rather than tap, since minerals in tap water can leave a residue on surfaces and inside the machine.


Humidifiers that aren’t cleaned properly can release tainted mist or steam, which can trigger flu-like symptoms and asthma attacks in people with sensitive lungs. Those tainted vapors can also disperse dust, microorganisms and other contaminants that are already in the air — particularly if the humidifier’s water tank or filter are dirty. Dirty humidifiers can be a particular problem for children’s lungs, which are more easily affected by contaminating substances than are adult lungs.

Evaporative cool mist humidifiers typically produce a lot of dust from the wick that’s pulled through the wet wick filter as it evaporates, which can contribute to airborne particulates in your home. Also, if you don’t change out the wick and filter on schedule, it can lead to mildew or mold in the humidifier.

Ultrasonic models work by pulverizing water into a fine mist using high-frequency vibration. They are less likely to introduce harmful bacteria or dust into the air but can disperse mineral particles, which may settle as white dust on surfaces, into your home.

Warm-mist vaporizers can cause burns if you accidentally touch the hot steam, especially with children around. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels, and keep in mind that a high level of humidity can encourage the growth of germs and other undesirable organisms in your home. Invest in a humidifier with a large capacity so it doesn’t need to be refilled often and choose one that can turn off or drain automatically when the water runs out, which will help you avoid wasting energy.

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