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How to clean your portable humidifier in 5 easy steps

Make sure your portable humidifier is in good working condition this winter.

Amanda Push Contributor
Amanda Push is a writer based in Colorado who covers personal finance, technology, safety and security, moving, and more. Her writing has also been featured at TheSimpleDollar.com, Interest.com, MyMove.com and Safety.com.
Amanda Push
3 min read

It only takes 5 quick steps to ensure your humidifier is clean. 

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Humidifiers are great when they do their job. By pumping moisture into the air, humidifiers raise a home's ambient humidity and help with a variety of health conditions. Increased humidity can ease issues associated with dry air, like flaky skin and colds. It can even help curb symptoms associated with asthma, although you should consult your doctor before using one. 

Even though humidifiers have a number of health benefits, they require a lot of care as well. If left uncleaned, humidifiers can suspend harmful microbes into the air and host moisture-loving bacteria, fungi and viruses.

In this article, we'll walk through the steps to clean your humidifier, focusing on portable humidifiers. For those with integrated humidifiers in their HVAC system, contact a qualified technician for maintenance. Below, we'll address how to disinfect your portable humidifier safely and effectively.

1. Take apart your humidifier

Unplug your humidifier, empty any water in the reservoir and disassemble your portable humidifier. Generally, all commercial portable humidifiers can be broken down into two parts: a tank to store water and a tray housing that enables water to run toward the humidifier components. Refer to your machine's manual for assembly and disassembly instructions. 


This portable humidifier runs on USB power and can also be used to diffuse essential oils. So now your home office need never be dry or musty again. 


2. Clean the wick filter

After disassembly, you may notice a wick filter inside the humidifier. (Here's what they look like.) Don't use commercial cleaners, as most wick filters have an antimicrobial finish from the manufacturer that may be destroyed if exposed to chemicals. Instead, soak and hand wash the wick filter with water. If you have hard tap water, consider using distilled water on the filter instead. 

We also recommend purchasing spare filters if you find yourself using your portable humidifier often. Moisture causes bacterial growth, but a dry wick filter can help keep your portable humidifier clean. Be sure to regularly change out your wick filters according to the manufacturer's recommendations. 

3. Clean the fan blades

Carefully wipe the fan blades with a clean brush or sponge and water -- or a damp paper towel. 

4. Clean the water tank and tray

Use a clean brush or sponge to wipe your humidifier's water tank and tray with warm water. If you notice limescale or any other buildup, rinse both components in hot water and submerge them in a mixture of hot water and white vinegar. This concoction makes a strong disinfectant and limescale remover. The more vinegar in the mix, the better it cleans. 

Regular use of white vinegar should be effective, but a small amount of bleach can help if your humidifier still looks dirty. Use 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water to dissolve any remaining growth. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Then, discard the solution and rinse the components. Be sure to wash off the bleach thoroughly. 

5. Let everything dry 

Once you've finished cleaning the individual parts, dry off and reassemble your humidifier. It's now ready to use, but remember: You should clean your humidifier once a week, depending on how often you use it. 

Interested in learning more about humidifiers? Consider checking out our tips on how to care for your humidifier, the importance of humidifiers and the best portable humidifiers of 2021.

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