If you're one of the millions of Americans that use a cool mist humidifier to help breathe easier or just use it to make your home more comfortable, you know that properly maintaining your cool mist humidifier is key to your health and happiness. 

They work because they emit a cool vapor that cools the area around them and makes it easier to breathe.  Cool mist humidifiers are ideal for people that suffer from allergies and asthma.  However, like all humidifiers, they require regular cleaning to be effective.  Keep reading for helpful tips on how to clean your cool mist humidifier.

What Happens If I Don't Clean My Cool Mist Humidifier?

If you do not clean your cool mist humidifier regularly or don't clean it properly, you can cause this helpful home appliance to become a breeding ground for mold, bacteria and germs.  Dirty humidifiers can be particularly problematic for people with asthma and allergies.  However, a dirty humidifier can also cause lung-infections and flu-like symptoms in healthy people that do not suffer from respiratory problems.  It's important to take the time to thoroughly clean your humidifier so it doesn't make you sick!

How Often Should I Clean My Cool Mist Humidifier?

Depending on how often you use your cool mist humidifier and other environmental factors, it is recommended that you rinse your cool mist humidifier once per day and thoroughly clean your cool mist humidifier at least once per week.  It's important to keep in mind that cleaning recommendation can vary depending upon the type of humidifier you have, whether or not you have pets and other environmental factors.

How to Clean a Cool Mist Humidifier:

Things You'll Need to Clean Your Cool Mist Humidifier:

  • Water/white vinegar mixture in a spray bottle for spot cleaning
  • White vinegar
  • Household bleach
  • 1 large saucepan
  • Soft bristle brush


  1. Unplug your cool mist humidifier and carefully begin taking it apart.  Make sure the water tank is separate from the filter and base.  Also, be sure to carefully remove the motor housing and set aside
  2. Fill the tank with water and add the tablespoon of bleach.  Replace the lid on the water tank and let sit approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Fill the large sauce pan with water and 2 cups of white vinegar.  Place the filter in the saucepan with the vinegar/water combination and let sit for approximately 30 minutes
  4. Pour a generous amount of undiluted white vinegar in to the base of your cool mist humidifier and let sit for 30 minutes.  Then remove any residue or build-up by gently scrubbing with the soft bristle brush.  Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Disinfect the base by pouring a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of water that you use into the base of the cool mist humidifier.  Let sit for 30 minutes
  6. Gently spot clean any remaining pieces and thoroughly rinse the tank, filter, and base.
  7. Put the cool mist humidifier back together, fill the tank with cool water and resume regular use.

Additional Tips:

  • Be sure to read the manufacturers specific instructions for cleaning because some brands will offer specific care instructions.
  • Clean your humidifier at least once per week.
  • If you are going to store your humidifier for any length of time, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry the unit before storing.
  • If you are using a humidifier after storing it for any length of time, thoroughly clean it before use.


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