Humidifiers are simple, yet effective solutions to alleviating the uncomfortable and harmful side effects of dry indoor air. They are quiet and easy to use, but they do require maintenance to prevent mineral buildup and to stymie the development of mold, bacteria and other micro-organisms. Following are tips on how to clean and to prevent humidifier contaminants in the first place.
Prevent Mineral Buildup
Ground water supplies generally contain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals are beneficial to your health, but not beneficial to the efficiency of some of your home appliances. The speed which minerals accumulate will depend on how frequently you use your humidifier and the amount of minerals in the water.
You should use your humidifier whenever you need to balance indoor humidity. So, the solution to preventing mineral buildup is to use water with less mineral content. That would be store purchased mineral water, filtered water or installing a point-of-use filter or whole-home filtration system.
Prevent Microbial Development
Using distilled or filtered water dramatically helps prevent mineral buildup, but it doesn't do much to prevent mold, mildew, bacteria and fungi from developing in your humidifier. If you use your humidifier frequently, wipe it down each week with an anti-microbial spray cleaner.
Generally speaking, frequent water changes are half your maintenance battle. To remove mineral buildup, use a soft brush, white vinegar and soft cleaning cloths. Here's what to do:
- Unplug your humidifier.
- Remove and empty the water tank.
- Remove the filter and let it air dry, or toss it if you're going to replace it.
- Fill the water tank with pure white vinegar. Let it stand for 1 hour.
- Empty the vinegar and scrub the tank with a soft brush.
- Rinse and repeat if needed.
If you use a whole-home humidifier, contact your HVAC technician for service.