The use of a cool-mist humidifier may help to add needed humidity to your home or office. The cold and flu season may have you reaching for the humidifier you have stored in the closet, but is it clean enough for you to use?
You may use your cool mist humidifier far more often than just the cold and flu season for other health-related issues or just to keep your inside air at just the healthiest humidity possible every day. Well, you should know that to keep the air as clean and pure as possible you should clean your cool mist humidifier regularly to keep it from making you sick.
Cool mist humidifiers are designed to humidify the air in your home or office with the use of cool mist, and this can allow for a buildup of bacteria or mold in the storage tank, wick or filters used in the unit. Unlike the warm mist units, there is no boiling of the water to produce steam so the bacteria can often build up in these units fairly quickly.
So, how do you clean a cool-mist humidifier to help you stay healthier and breathe easier as well as extend the life of the humidifier itself?
Let’s look into the different methods of cleaning your cool-mist humidifier so you can select the best procedure for yourself.
Many people will automatically reach for the jug of bleach if they see mold in the tank or on any of the other surface areas of their cool-mist humidifier. While this is an option, you will need to make certain to rinse all areas thoroughly as bleach will leave a residue that can contaminate the water and cause unwanted odors.
Bleach will not help to eliminate the hard-water deposits that can also accumulate in the tank and on other surfaces so it may not be the best option for getting a complete clean. It will kill most bacteria and molds, but if not rinsed properly may propel bleach molecules into the air irritating bronchial or nasal passages.
To use the bleach cleaning method, you should place a small amount of bleach in the water in the tank and the base, let it sit for about 30-minutes, gently swish it around, scrub and rinse. Careful as bleach will stain any fabric it comes into contact with and can adversely affect some furniture finishes.
2. Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Some may choose to use this method for cleaning their cool-mist humidifier, and again, this works well for disinfecting the unit and killing bacteria. It does not remove any hard water scale that may be present but will not leave the unit smelling like bleach either.
Using hydrogen peroxide to disinfect a cool-mist humidifier may be a better option for those that are sensitive to bleach but want a clean and disinfected unit.
You will find this easy to use as you simply pour some peroxide into the tank and base and allow it to sit for at least 20-minutes, scrub the surfaces and rinse well.
Again, use caution when using hydrogen peroxide around some fabrics and surfaces as you may find it stains these surfaces.
3. Using Vinegar
Like many coffee pots, you can use vinegar to clean a cool-mist humidifier. Using vinegar eliminates some of the issues that you may have from using the methods mentioned above.
Vinegar does help to eliminate scale that can be left behind from hard-water deposits, and it can also effectively disinfect the unit.
Helping to remove the scale or descaling the unit may help to add longevity to the actual humidifier and help to keep the unit in prime working condition. This method is easy to use and will also not have any adverse effects on fabrics or surfaces it may come into contact with.
Pour some vinegar into the tank and base and allow it to sit for about 30-minutes. To help remove the scale, you may want to use a brush, and you should scrub all the surfaces that have a visible scale. Then rinse the unit well to eliminate the vinegar smell.
4.Using Pre-Made Cleaners
Some manufacturers and other companies offer ready-made cleaners for your cool-mist humidifier. Some of the products are designed to be used similarly to the cleaning processes above, and others are added to the tank for constant cleaning.
Some of these premade products are for descaling the hard water deposits or for disinfecting or a combination of both. They may be a product that you place in the tank as a floating capsule or a capsule-shaped like a fish to help prevent hard-water buildup and bacteria and mold growth.
There are also liquid additives that you can add a few cap fulls to the tank water before use to also help combat these issues. Then there are the cleaners you use to clean the unit in the same way the home remedies are used.
I personally am not a huge fan of putting chemicals, even those deemed safe into the water I intend to vaporize and spread throughout my home.
The little fish or capsules that you place into the tank may last for up to a month at a time but also may invite little ones to investigate the humidifier leading to a host of possible issues.
These cleaners may make maintenance easier for those who don’t have time or the memory to remember to clean their cool-mist humidifier regularly. If you are using your cool-mist humidifier in a work environment, then this may be the easiest way of maintaining and disinfecting your machine.
A Few More Tips for Maintaining Your Cool-Mist Humidifier
- Always unplug your cool-mist humidifier when it is not in use or before cleaning the unit.
- If your cool-mist humidifier has a filter or wick change it regularly. Some of the premade cleaners’ state that they help to reduce buildup and bacteria on these items but changing them ensures you are breathing the best quality air possible.
- Clean your cool-mist humidifier often, at least once a week during times of regular use.
- Change the water in the unit daily to help prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.
- Always take a moment to rinse and dry the entire unit when you change the water daily to help eliminate future issues.
- Clean your unit with one of the above methods and rinse and dry thoroughly before storage.
- Replace the filter or wick before you use the unit for the first time after storage.
- Don’t let water sit in the unit, wick or filter, especially when the unit is not in use.
- Check the owner’s manual before placing any of the parts to your cool-mist humidifier in the dishwasher. Some units offer this ability while others do not.
- Using a scrub brush may help to remove hard-water scale quicker.
- Always keep all humidifiers out of the reach of children.
The takeaway from this article is that you should regularly clean your cool-mist humidifier. If you choose to use one of the additives in the tank, you should continue to monitor the unit for scale buildup and mold growth.
Keeping the unit clean and free from the hard-water scale can help you breathe better and help to prolong the life of the cool-mist humidifier. If the unit is not regularly descaled, you may notice fine white dust accumulating in your home and this might be from the minerals in the water.
Although it is not a requirement, you may find that using distilled or filtered water helps to reduce the buildup of hard-water scale in your humidifier and may help reduce the amount of scale buildup. Reducing the buildup may allow you to clean the unit faster and easier.
The use of a cool-mist humidifier in your home or office may greatly improve your quality of life and help you to kick the common cold or flu virus faster, but they must be maintained regularly. Take a moment to look over all of the available cleaning methods described above to find the one that best suits your needs and is easiest for you to perform regularly.