How To Clean A Humidifier Filter

close up diffuser

​Image source: pexels

Living in a dry, cold climate makes using a humidifier a wise choice for health. A humidifier can help cut down on airborne illnesses like viruses or even skin conditions. To prevent sickness that may come from the humidifier itself, it is imperative to know how to clean a humidifier. Learning how to clean a humidifier will not only improve the longevity of the humidifier but also improve air quality.

What Is a Humidifier Filter?

light Humidifier

​Image source: pixabay

​With increasingly extreme climates, humidifiers help with excessively dry seasons over the course of a year. Those struggling with asthma or dry skin can benefit from the use of just one humidifier. Because of the greater level in humidity, a humidifier can make a home feel several degrees warmer. This can be a necessary tool when regulating a thermostat.

The Primary Purpose of a Humidifier

​A humidifier filter exists to distribute humid air while picking up moisture in a room. This can prevent static electricity in the air that can affect hair, metal, and clothing. Because of the absorption of water, the humidifier filter is crucial. When water flows into the filter media (this can be made of clay-coated metal, metal or paper), it removes mineral deposits from the water. A humidifier filter impacts the indoor air quality of any home.

Is Cleaning Your Humidifier Filter Necessary?

essential oils diffuser

​Image source: pixabay

​At the beginning of each heating season, it is important to replace the humidifier filter. Without using proper care, a humidifier may cease to work altogether. By learning how to properly clean your humidifier filter, you can save money by keeping it for a longer period of time.

In addition to the potential breakdown of an appliance, without knowing how to clean a humidifier, the risk for illness increases. If stagnant water accumulates in the humidifier filter, the bacteria will then release into the air. This can cause respiratory problems when inhaled as well as other potential health risks.

Humidifier Filter Negligence

Neglecting a humidifier filter can result in potentially harmful bacteria and mold. When using the humidifier, these germs can circulate throughout the air of a home. Once stagnated water is released into the air, harmful bacteria may be ingested. Symptoms of bad air quality can result in asthma attacks, infections, lung inflammation, fever, anxiety, shortness of breath, and more.

Knowing how to clean a humidifier can combat a variety problems that stem from old humidifier filters. Over time, a filter can lose its ability to hold water from becoming clogged or brittle. Without knowing how to clean a humidifier, the risk of contaminated media from impurities in the water increases greatly. This type of contamination can then circulate throughout a home.

A humidifier filter should be changed at least once a year and in some cases, twice.

How To Clean a Humidifier Filter

​Because of the health hazards associated with old or dirty humidifier filters, understanding how to clean a humidifier filter is essential in protecting living spaces. Simply soaking the humidifier filter in soapy water is not enough to combat the germs that are left trapped inside the filter. Cleaning requires a step-by-step process to ensure the safety of air quality.

The Tools Needed:

  • ​White vinegar
  • ​A hard sponge or pad
  • ​Bleach
  • ​Water
  • ​Clean towels
  • ​Gloves

How to Clean Your Humidifier Filter in 4 Steps


​The first step requires cleaning each of the spaces surrounding the filter. As with any electronic, unplug any wires from the wall before cleaning. The humidifier water reservoir (also known as the tank) and the filter base will need to be cleaned despite their appearance. Bacteria is not always easily detectable and even if the humidifier filter looks clean, it may not be.

To first thoroughly rinse the base and reservoir, use a mild bleach and water solution. No matter how much solution one uses, the measurements should consist of one part bleach to five parts water. To disinfect a reservoir, try mixing 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Fill the reservoir halfway, making sure the entire inside is coated with the mixture. To completely disinfect, let the mixture sit for a half hour before cleaning. After rinsing the reservoir and base with the solution, use lots of clean water for a final rinse. Upon final rinse, add a teaspoon of baking soda to keep the water clean when refilling the reservoir.


​Once the reservoir and base are cleaned, the base beneath the filter needs to be thoroughly scrubbed. While purified water is better suited for the reservoir, tap water is fine when rinsing the base beneath the actual filter. When learning how to clean a humidifier filter, it’s crucial to understand the detail behind each cleaning, so hidden germs are not over-looked. The base beneath the filter will most likely have a yellowish brown scale of residue that can attract bacteria. Even if the base does not have this tint, there may be germs that are invisible to the naked eye. To properly clean the scale, pour a mixture containing half white vinegar and half water. Let the mixture sit for thirty minutes before scrubbing until the scale is gone. Do not rinse the vinegar residue away as this will help prevent future buildup.


​Removing hard-water scale buildup and/or mold also needs to be addressed. Green or black spots can indicate an obvious and serious buildup of mold or mildew. For tap water mineral deposits, using the previous vinegar solution will work wonders. If the mildew is spotty, however, the bleach solution is a preferred method when discovering how to clean a humidifier filter. Regardless of visible mildew or mold, scrubbing is the best method to remove all germs. After using the bleach solution, let the filter soak for at least one hour.


​The last step when learning how to clean a humidifier filter is to thoroughly rinse all of the components. By rinsing all parts, trapped moisture is dislodged from the filter. Use a cloth or shake any excess water from crevices that may be hard to locate. To disperse all cleaning solution smells, rinsing several times may be necessary. Once this is done, each part can air dry on top of a clean towel for approximately one hour.

To keep the humidifier filter clean, it is best to repeat this process once a week. If used regularly, a weekly cleaning will prevent any air contamination caused by a dirty humidifier filter. It is also advised to empty any standing water before turning the humidifier on for the day. Once emptied, rinsing out and water that is left can also help the air quality of a room. Although it may not need to be disinfected daily, replacing old water with fresh water can greatly reduce the chance of airborne bacteria.



​Image source: pixabay

​Humidifiers help extensively with health conditions in extremely dry weather conditions. Whether you’re looking to keep heating costs under control or fight cold or flu season, they remain an invaluable appliance for homes. To keep your humidifier working for years, understanding how to clean a humidifier filter will save you the hassle of buying another one before the time is right. Not only will the cleaning practice cut down on the extensive build up over time, but it will ensure healthy air quality for all.