How to Clean Humidifiers - Humidifier Cleaning Care

Humidifier Cleaning Care. Read about models of humidifiers and care for your unit. Find great cleaning solutions, ideas and expert information.

Read here for the best practices of humidifier cleaning care for the healthiest room and home humidification.

Types of Humidifiers and potential problems with bacteria, mold growth.

All humidifiers have a tank which holds the water to be dispersed into the air. Since water is sitting in the tank, there is the possibility of bacteria, mold or other microorganisms multiplying in the water while it sits in the tank.

Cool mist ultrasonic and impeller are humidifiers where this can pose a problem. These both propel water from the tank into the air. So, if there are microorganisms in the water, those will be propelled into the air as well. These microorganisms are in the air all the time, so it is generally not too much of an issue. Unless the tank is allowed to get dirty, or if it’s cold season and you are especially worried about germs. Germs are a reason for proper humidifier cleaning care.

Evaporative humidifiers do not send water from the tank into the air. Instead, these use a filter, or wick, which sits in the water. Above this, there is a fan which blows the moisture from the wick into the air through an evaporative process. Similar to when water evaporates off of newly washed dishes, but the fan helps speed up the process.

Since the water evaporates from the filter into the air, the chances of bacteria going into the air are much less. So, humidifier cleaning and care isn't as vital, but bacteria still may form in the sitting water in the tank. According to the Environmental Protection Agency on humidifier cleaning care, these disperse very few, if any microorganisms into the air. Generally these come with antimicrobial filters to help reduce build up as well. Still, keeping the reservoir clean is important.

Warm mist humidifiers and vaporizers boil the water before releasing it into the air. By boiling the water, any germs or bacteria are killed. People generally prefer warm mist in the winter, and this is generally when cold/flu season is the worst. So, these are good units to use during that time, as the water that humidifies the room should be quite clean. Humidifier cleaning care is still important.

Humidifier Cleaning Care

Changing the water-
It is important to change the water every day in humidifiers. Since I leave mine on all day and night in the winter, when I go to fill it, I dump out the old water and add fresh. This helps greatly reduce the problem of potential germs building from stagnant water. If you don’t use yours every day, then dump out the left over water when you shut it off. I like to leave the cap off to allow the tank to dry out between uses. Do keep the cap near the tank, so you won’t lose it!

Cleaning the Tank or Reservoir-
It’s recommended to clean your tank or water reservoir anywhere from every 3 days to every week. The EPA suggests cleaning them every 3rd day with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, swishing it around the tank, then rinsing thoroughly with water. Use a brush to scrub the tank and a cloth to wipe it clean. Remove any scale or deposits, which commonly form on the heating element of warm mist units.

Most recommendations I have come across say to clean the tank every week. This seems a bit more reasonable than every 3rd day, but I wanted to let you know what the EPA guidelines were. Every week is even a bit much for me to keep up on, but I use evaporative and warm mist, so germs are less of an issue.

For disinfecting, I use white vinegar and dilute it with water, about 1:5 vinegar to water. I swish that around the tank in my warm mist unit. I let that mixture sit in the evaporative reservoir for 30-60 min, then dump it and wipe it dry.

There are a lot of recommendations to use bleach for disinfecting, but I just don’t like to use bleach. It’s fairly irritating to the lungs and not good to come in contact with the skin. If you do use bleach for cleaning, just make sure to very thoroughly rise with water to make sure you aren’t sending that bleach back into the air.

I hope this info helps clarify the best practices for the humidifier cleaning care. Overall, use common sense how often yours needs cleaning, by how much you use it. Like all of us, we forget to change the water, or to clean it on time, but don’t let that stop you from using your humidifier. It’s so soothing to have the proper humidity in your home. Buy one that best suits your lifestyle. Overall, I recommend Air O Swiss because their Ionic Silver Stick is wonderful to reduce/eliminate germs in the water for up to a year, naturally. They are on the expensive side, so if you need a budget unit, look the Duracraft-Honeywell warm mist model.

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