Home & Outdoors

Your humidifier could be making you sick—here's how to clean it

Keep your home (and yourself) healthy.

Humidifier Credit: Believe_In_Me/Getty Images

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You love your humidifier for a lot of reasons—it keeps dry air (and the cracked skin and coughs that come with it) at bay and generally makes your home more comfortable. But for as much as you love it (and as much as you use it), how often do you actually clean your humidifier? Probably not as often as you should.

And that could be making you sick, according to experts. Here's everything you need to know about keeping your humidifier clean and bacteria-free.

Why it's important to clean your humidifier

Humidifier1
Credit: Maryviolet/Getty Images

What's really lurking inside your humidifier drawer?

A clean humidifier = a more efficient humidifier. But more importantly, a clean humidifier = a healthier home. "Stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for microscopic organisms like bacteria and amoebas," our senior lab testing technician, Jonathan Chan, explains. That bacteria is then dispersed into your home via the humidifier—and it can lead to a type of pneumonia that has flu-like symptoms, like coughing and a fever. In fact, the problem is so common that it even has an official name: humidifier lung.

How to clean your humidifier

Fortunately, cleaning your humidifier is as simple as simply swapping out the dirty water for fresh water. "To help prevent the growth of germs, you should drain your tank regularly and refill it," Jonathan recommends. "The change over of fresh tap water will help aerate and clean the tank." He adds that for the lower half of your humidifier, you should let it dry out completely and then wipe it down to prevent grime from building up.

Popular humidifier brand Vicks also notes on its website that you can deep clean your humidifier by soaking the drawer in a white vinegar and water solution for 20 minutes before rinsing it out. And as for how often you should clean your humidifier? Both Jonathan and Vicks say once a week is plenty.

How to choose the best humidifier

Vicks
Credit: Reviewed/Jonathan Chan

We like this Vicks humidifier the best.

While cleaning your humidifier is important, it's also important to buy the right humidifier for your home in the first place. Of all the ones we've tested, our favorite humidifier is the Vicks V745. It has a large one-gallon tank so you can run it for up to 10 hours straight (!!) and is so powerful that it increased the humidity in our room by 34 percent in just five hours. Bonus: It even works with medicinal oils if that's your jam.

Get the Vicks V745 from Amazon for $38.55

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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