How to Clean A Humidifier Filter

Clean A Humidifier Filter

Humidifier filters are subject to mineral deposit buildup over time, especially if you use hard water in the humidifier. These deposits can make the humidifier run less efficiently. This can cause a problem for those who need to avoid dry air because of illness or allergies.

Humidifiers are wonderful inventions that dampen the air of your home, allowing for all ages to breathe deeply and normally. It prevents fire hazards and the cracking or splitting of the wooden support beams found within your walls.

and several other basic cleaning tools. Vinegar will effectively purge your humidifier of filth and make the aforementioned weekly cleanings a breeze.

How to Clean A Humidifier Filter With Vinegar


1. Disassemble Your Humidifier

When considering how to clean a humidifier, the first step is to take it apart in preparation for the cleaning. Begin by shutting off the humidifier and subsequently unplugging it. Next, using your humidifier’s owners manual as a guide, proceed to take the device apart, starting with the tank. Once the tank has been safely detached, proceed to remove the humidifier’s filter in the manner specified.

If your humidifier features a detachable motor, take care to remove that, too. Although the execution of this step will vary depending on the brand and model of your humidifier, it should not require the aid of any tools. If you’ve misplaced the device’s owner manual, you can generally find comprehensive disassembly instructions online.

2. Scrub the Tank

The next step in cleaning a humidifier involves giving the device’s tank a good scrubbing. Start this step by combining one cup of vinegar with one cup of warm water in an empty spray bottle. Next, remove the tank’s cap, empty the tank into one of your home’s drains, and proceed to apply your cleaning solution to the inside.

Allow the solution to sit for a minute or so before using a sponge, washcloth, scrub brush, or toothbrush to scrub away any dirt or mineral deposits inside. Repeat this process on the tank’s exterior as well before rinsing and subsequently refilling the freshly cleaned tank.

3. Clean Your Humidifier’s Filter and Base

How to Deep Clean Your Humidifier Filter

Having thoroughly cleaned your tank, you’ve actually completed the most laborious part of the cleaning process. In the last step, you will need to soak the device’s filter and gently scrub its base.

Begin by placing your humidifier’s filter in a sink or bowl filled with a mixture of water and white wine vinegar and allow it to sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Next, pour a small amount of vinegar into the device’s base and allow it to sit for the same amount of time.

After the parts have been given ample soaking time, use a sponge, washcloth, scrub brush, or toothbrush to remove any remaining bits of filth or mineral residue. Follow up by giving both parts a thorough rinsing and making sure they are completely dry before proceeding to reassembly.

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1. Unplug the humidifier and empty out the water tray.

2. Remove the filter according to the humidifier’s instruction manual. Note that sometimes the filters might be called filter wicks.

3. Pour equal parts of white vinegar and water into a large container and place the filter in the solution. Ensure it becomes completely soaked.

4. Let the filter sit in the solution for at least one hour. Jeff Campbell, author of the book “Speed Cleaning,” writes that you can use a vinegar-only bath for faster results.

5. Inspect the filter for remaining deposits and dirt. Place it back in the vinegar if need be.

6. Remove the filter and rinse it with clean water. Let dry before placing it back in the humidifier.

7. Repeat every week or every month, depending on the rate of buildup and on any recommendations from the humidifier’s manufacturer.


Filters are constructed out of a variety of materials. If the filter is made of paper, you will need to dispose of it and purchase a new one. The paper will be ruined in the cleaning process. If the filter is made of a plastic or other water-resistant material, you can clean it and remove the lime with the method below.

Steps to Clean the Filter:

  1. Unplug the humidifier.
  2. Remove the tank. These generally sit on top of the filter.
  3. Set the tank on a towel, in a tub or in the sink. Sometimes they continue to drip water.
  4. Carefully lift out the filter.
  5. Place it in the sink or tub. If neither of these is available, place it in a bucket filled with cool water.
  6. As you are rinsing, look for any damaged or moldy areas. A mold may be green, pink or black. Mineral deposits may also be present.
  7. If there is mold present, fill the sink or bucket with one part bleach and six parts water.
  8. Place the filter in the water mixture and allow it to soak for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the filter from the water and rinse it completely with cool water.
  10. If mineral deposits are present, fill the sink or bucket with one part vinegar and two parts water.
  11. Soak the filter in the vinegar and water for 20 minutes.
  12. Rinse completely with cool water.
  13. Use a soft cloth to wipe out the basin where the filter sits. Use the bleach or vinegar to treat any problem areas found there.
  14. Place the filter back into the holder while it is still damp.
  15. Fill the tank and return it to the top of the filter.
  16. Run the humidifier as normal.

How to Clean Humidifier Wick Filter

How To Clean A Humidifier Filter

1. Take Apart Your Humidifier

Disassembling your home humidifier is the first step you have to take to get to the wick filter. When performing this step, make sure to have your humidifier’s owner’s manual on hand, as the disassembly instructions will vary between brands and models.

If you can’t find the device’s manual, you should be able to find detailed instructions for disassembly on the Internet by typing your brand and model into your preferred search engine. Regardless of the type you own, taking it apart should be fairly simple and will not require the use of any tools.

Start by turning off your humidifier and unplugging it from its power source, after which you will need to remove the device’s tank. This should give you easy access to the wick filter, which, in some cases, you will be able to carefully jostle out of place with your hands. Once your wick filter has been safely removed, you’re ready to move on.

2. Rinse Your Wick Filter

Next, you need to give the filter a thorough rinse with water. Holding the filter in one hand, proceed to run a steady stream from a sink or bathtub faucet over it, paying special attention to any noticeably dirt-laden areas. If one is available, a detachable showerhead can also be used to perform the rinsing. As the filter undergoes its rinse, use a toothbrush or soft-bristled scrub brush to get rid of any easily-dislodged bits of filth. Once your wick filter has been vigorously rinsed and a fair amount of dirt has been removed, you may proceed.

3. Soak Your Filter

The third and, arguably, the easiest step in cleaning a wick filter involves soaking the filter in a mixture of water and white wine vinegar. Combine the ingredients for the aforementioned mixture in a pot or bowl, place your wick filter inside, and allow it to soak for 45 minutes to a full hour. After the filter has soaked, you will need to once again use a scrub brush or toothbrush to remove any remaining bits of filth.

Complete this step by giving your freshly cleaned filter another water rinse followed by a thorough towel-dry. If any portion of your wick filter still appears to be dirty, the filter will need to be replaced.

How to Deep Clean Your Humidifier Filter

Follow these five simple steps, to get the most from your humidifier and improve your indoor air quality. These cleaning steps are especially important if you are using a cool mist humidifier.

Step 1

With your humidifier unplugged from the wall, you must first disassemble it completely. Remove and empty out the water tank as part of this process. Then depending on your particular model, unlatch or unlock any other removable parts from the base and set everything apart for easy recognition. If your particular unit includes an air filter, be sure to remove it as well. Filters can be cleaned using cool running water and then left to air dry.

Step 2

Pour enough white vinegar into the base that it fills all of the areas which water regularly comes into contact with, and place any smaller washable parts into a large container of vinegar to soak. Let everything sit for at least 30 minutes to breakdown the buildup and then follow up by using your soft brush to clear away any stuck-on residue.

Some humidifiers come equipped for this very purpose, but if not, any soft-bristled brush should do the trick. Smaller brushes can be ideal for detailed cleaning of hard-to-reach areas.

Step 3

Disinfecting your water tank also requires about a half-hour of wait time, so you might want to perform this alongside the second step. Using a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water, fill the tank at least halfway and swirl the solution around so that the entire inside is coated. You can also substitute 3% hydrogen peroxide for bleach if you prefer.

Step 4

Use water from the tap to thoroughly rinse base, tank and all other components, shaking everything well to dislodge any trapped moisture. It may take several passes before the smells of your cleansers begin to dissipate, but rest assured that it will happen. Lay all parts out to air dry atop your fresh towels; this will also help to clear away any residual aromas.

Step 5

Once all parts have dried completely, you’re ready to reassemble and resume use of your appliance. Don’t forget to replace the unit’s air filter where applicable. Fill your tank with clean mineral-free water, plug it in and start enjoying the effects of fresh, soothing humidity in your home once again.

Ten Simple Steps to Clean Your Humidifier Filter

  1. Fill up your sink with hot water and add some sort of cleaning solution or extra-strength soap; either homemade or store-bought.
  2. Remove the filter from the humidifier and put it directly into the hot water with the preferred cleaning compound and allow the filter to fully submerge and soak for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Clean all the internal components that surround the filter, using a homemade cleaning solution or a store-bought solution made especially for humidifiers. These internal components are everything from the reservoir of water to the fan blades that break up the water into microscopic droplets.
  4. Refill the reservoir with distilled water and add a teaspoon of baking soda to remove stains from the inside. This tip also has the added benefit of the humidifier releasing clean-smelling water droplets into the air. Check to see if your humidifier has the option for an essential oils diffuser or check with the manufacturer to determine if adding essential oils will damage the device.
  5. Clean the entire base beneath the filter using a homemade solution or extra-strength soap and a scouring pad. Dampen the pad and add a dollop of cleaning solution that will remove the bacteria, germs, and mold that can live on this base and are unseen to the naked eye.
  6. After both the internal parts and the filters’ base are sanitized; it is time to clean the filter itself. Take the submerged filter out of the soapy water to determine if elbow grease and scrubbing is needed.
  7. If there are mineral deposits visible throughout the filter, a solution of vinegar, bleach, and water would be the easiest and most efficient way to remove these. If there is mold on the filter, you can try to clean it but it is highly recommended that you replace the entire filter due to health-related reasons.
  8. Once the filter is scrubbed clean and is free from visible spots or debris, rinse the filter in the pure cleaning solution for a final germ-check and to remove any additional particles that have been dislodged from the filter.
  9. Rinse the filter under pure hot water and allow to completely dry; either on a clean dish towel or placed on a drying rack normally used for household dishes.
  10. Check the base components to make sure that they are completely dry before replacing the filter inside the humidifier as damp or dark conditions can be breeding grounds for harmful germs or bacteria.

Replace the humidifier covering and remove it from near the water source before re-plugging the power cord into the electrical socket.

Why It’s Important To Keep Your Humidifier Clean

Keeping your humidifier clean is important for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s a necessary task to ensure that your unit works properly. Like any appliance, if you don’t properly care for it, then it won’t last as long as it could and you’re not getting the most for the money you spent.

The most important reason why you should keep your humidifier clean, however, is because if you don’t then you risk spreading potentially harmful bacteria and mold into the air.

Without proper disinfection and cleaning, the water in your humidifier will just sit there and stagnate. If you turn your humidifier on without giving it a thorough cleaning, then you risk traces of that bad water being released into the air, and ultimately, being breathed in by you and your family.

Not only does this contaminate your indoor air quality, but breathing this bacteria-laced vapor may lead to a whole host of negative health symptoms. These may include asthma attacks, severe coughs, lung inflammation, high-grade fevers, loss of appetite, anxiety, and shortness of breath.

In the most extreme cases, which can be brought on by long-term exposure to this contaminated air, you may start to develop respiratory infections, lung scarring or even lung disease.

Luckily, all of this can be avoided by just taking a couple of minutes to clean your humidifier before using it.

Regular Maintenance & Usage Tips

For best results, there are a few additional steps you can take to ensure you get the most from your humidifier.

Deep Clean Once A Week

It’s recommended that you perform the deep-cleaning steps listed above at least once every week when using your humidifier on a regular basis. This will ensure that the air you and your family are breathing is not compromised by mold spores or bacteria.

Rinse Out Water Basin Before Every Use

Before you turn your humidifier on for the day, make sure to empty and rinse out any standing water that is left in there. This eliminates any sort of bacteria that may have started to grow inside the unit. You don’t have to disinfect it daily, even though it wouldn’t hurt, but it is wise to add fresh water.

Use Distilled Water

Distilled water is the recommended water to use with humidifiers. This is because tap water has minerals added to it, and these minerals are also dispersed into the air along with the water vapor. This may lead to a small amount of white dust covering all the surfaces of the room the humidifier is being used in.

Additionally, these minerals also aid bacteria growth due to the deposits that are difficult to clean

Clean & Drain Before Storage

When you’re done using your humidifier for the season, it’s incredibly important to give it a deep clean and let it dry before you store it away. If there are any damp areas within the appliance when you store it away, you will likely notice a bunch of mold when you pull it out to use again.


To keep your humidifier working as it should for many years to come, it’s important to keep it clean and follow a regular maintenance routine. The last thing you want is to disperse potentially harmful mold or bacteria into the air.

Just Following the above cleaning guidelines, as well as changing out filters and following other instructions listed by the manufacturer, you’ll be sure to enjoy a comfortable and healthy winter at home all season long.

Additional Tips on How to Clean a Humidifier Filter

  • If your filter is not made of plastic or cannot withstand chemicals, skip the vinegar and bleach soakings. Simply rinse and soak the filter in clean water to clean it.
  • Check your owner’s manual for cleaning guidelines and suggestions. If it differs from the instructions here, follow those provided by the manufacturer or your specific model.
  • To avoid lime build up in the future (and keep away bacteria and fungi), fill the humidifier with distilled or demineralized water. Regular tap water contains minerals that leave a build-up which can feed bacteria growth.
  • Many filters are designed to be tossed and replaced. If yours has passed its prime, don’t hesitate to purchase a new one.
  • To sanitize the inside of your humidifier, wipe it down with hydrogen peroxide (3%). Allow it to air dry completely before use.

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