How To Clean A Humidifier With Vinegar

It is disgusting to use a dirty humidifier. It'll defeat its purpose of helping you feel better since it'll spread mold and bacteria into your home. That's why you need to make sure that your humidifier is clean all the time. If you are wondering how you can use vinegar to clean this device, we've got the answers for you. We asked the experts how to go about it, and here's what they shared with us.

To clean your humidifier with vinegar,

  1. Fill the tank with water and add two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar.
  2. Let it stand for 20 to 30 mins.
  3. Use a brush to remove any dirt or calcium buildup.
  4. Rinse and dry.

Keep on reading to know more about the proper way of cleaning your humidifier with the use of vinegar. We'll also answer if you can use apple cider vinegar instead of distilled white vinegar and if it is safe to soak your humidifier in vinegar overnight. We'll also tell you how to know if your humidifier has mold in it. Let's get this started! 

Air purifier in cozy white bedroom for filter and cleaning removing dust, How To Clean A Humidifier With Vinegar

How do you clean a cool-mist humidifier with vinegar?

Humidifiers have become a home essential, especially during the winter season. They help increase moisture in the air as dry air can make people feel uncomfortable. You may experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and skin. You'll also have dry hair, skin, and lips.

Humidifiers can also help ease cough, counteract flu, and reduce snoring. They are also beneficial to your indoor plants and prevent cracking of your wood furniture. 

You can just imagine the work they have to do to increase the moisture level in the room for you to enjoy these benefits.

To achieve this, they convert water into vapors and release them into the air to keep the humidity level inside your home within the ideal range of 30 to 50%. This means that they have components constantly soaked or exposed to water and this can be a problem. Since they're always wet, they are a potential breeding ground for mold and bacteria, especially when not cleaned often.

It can also cause scaling or calcification, especially when you use hard water. The minerals leave white residues inside the water tank and maybe even on the exterior surface of your humidifier that can keep this appliance from doing its job effectively.

That's why it's essential to clean and descale your humidifier regularly so that it'll continue to function well and help in improving your indoor air quality. When it comes to these jobs, vinegar is one of the most recommended products that's said to be effective in getting the job done. Plus, it is made of natural ingredients, and you probably have this in your pantry already!

Vinegar is a very useful and versatile product that has uses outside of cooking. It can also be your best friend when it comes to home cleaning! It has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Because of its acidity, it can dissolve dirt, grease, grime, and mineral deposits - exactly what the task for today entails!

Man changing water container in air dryer, dehumidifier

How To Clean And Descale A Humidifier

Here's how you use vinegar to clean and descale your humidifier.

Materials to prepare

  • distilled white vinegar
  • vegetable brush or toothbrush
  • microfiber cloth 

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  1. Turn off the humidifier and unplug it from the power outlet for safety purposes.
  2. Disassemble its parts.
  3. Fill the tank with water and add two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar. (If there's calcification, put one cup of vinegar in the tank without the water.)
  4. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Put back the tank on top of the reservoir and allow the water and vinegar mixture to drain into it.
  6. Again, let it stand for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the tank and drain the mixture into the sink.
  8. Soak your vegetable brush or toothbrush in vinegar and gently remove any dirt buildup on the interior and exterior surface of the humidifier.
  9. Rinse off the vinegar and dirt residue with clean water.
  10. Wipe with a clean and dry cloth.
  11. Allow all parts to air dry. 

That's it! Vinegar makes this task so easy! Do this once a week to ensure that your humidifier is always clean and safe to use. It's also best to read the instructions in your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations.

Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean the humidifier?

Apple cider vinegar with brewed tea

Distilled white vinegar is recommended not just for cooking but also for home cleaning purposes. But in case you don't have any in your stock, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute. It is equally effective in killing germs and removing dirt and grime with the added benefit of a more pleasant smell.

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However, you would need to prepare a water and vinegar mixture with a 50:50 ratio. After making the necessary adjustments, just continue with the rest of the cleaning procedure mentioned above.

Since we're talking about alternative products, you can also use your cleaning vinegar if you have one. This type of vinegar has 1% more acidity than white vinegar. This is what makes it more effective as a cleaning agent.

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But since cleaning vinegar is stronger than regular vinegar, you would have to dilute it in water so as not to harm some sensitive parts of your humidifier. You can follow the original formula above. Just add two tablespoons cleaning vinegar to a tank that's filled with water. Or, if you're using it for descaling, you can mix two parts cleaning vinegar and one part water.

Make the adjustments as needed with the kind of vinegar that you're using so that you can clean your humidifier safely and effectively.

Can I soak the humidifier in vinegar overnight?

For those wondering if they can soak their humidifier in vinegar overnight, the short answer to this question is yes. You can soak it in vinegar for as long as you like. Just don't make it shorter than 20 minutes so that you give vinegar ample time to do its magic.

If you're concerned about mold and calcium buildup, you can soak it overnight to be sure that most, if not all, of the dirt, mold, bacteria, and minerals are dissolved. This will also make it easier for you to remove and rinse off all these unwanted particles.

However, make sure that you're not going to use it in the meantime. It is not recommended to run the humidifier with vinegar in its tank. It would be released in the air and irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and even lungs. You'll end up feeling uncomfortable instead of being relieved, so it's best not to do it.

How do I know if my humidifier has mold?

pushing button on dehumidifier device

You shouldn't use a humidifier that has mold in it. Aside from spreading the mold in other parts of your house and potentially ruining the surfaces they cling on to, it is also very unhealthy. You will breathe in the mold spores and this can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

Those who don't have these conditions could still suffer from eye irritation, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, or headache. In other words, you'll end up feeling sick, which defeats the purpose of a humidifier.

There are two ways to know if your humidifier has mold in it.

Visible signs

You can tell that there's mold in your device when you see actual spots or patches of mold. Depending on the mold type, their colors could be anywhere from white, brown, green, black, or orange. The patches may look velvety or cotton-like.


When you turn on your humidifier, it emits a musty or earthy smell. This is a sign that there's mold in its interior components, and they are getting mixed with the air that's released by the humidifier.

When you've noticed these signs, don't use your humidifier in the meantime. Have it cleaned and disinfected to kill the mold so you can be sure that it won't contaminate your indoor air quality.

Final Thoughts

Air purifier in cozy white bedroom for filter and cleaning removing dust

Use vinegar to clean your humidifier. Just add two tablespoons to the water in the tank and soak it for at least 30 minutes or longer. The acidic nature of vinegar will take care of dissolving the unwanted particles that have settled in your humidifier. Do this regularly to maximize the benefits of this product. 

You may also visit these links for more related reading:

How To Clean Dyson Humidifier With Citric Acid Or Vinegar

What Can I Use To Clean My Dyson Humidifier? [Is Vinegar Ok?]



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