Humidifiers are popular appliances in homes and businesses, keeping air fresh and full of moisture when it gets dry. Wintertime can be especially hard on allergies and skin, causing bloody noses, dry sinuses, and cracked lips. Unfortunately, incorrect, or careless maintenance of a humidifier could be just the recipe for mold growth in the tank. This could lead to mold spores, bacteria, or fungi being dispersed into the air by the humidifier’s mist.
Using a humidifier wisely is a key part of maintaining a well-functioning property, both in the winter and year-round. But most importantly, keeping your air healthy can help protect loved ones, pets, friends, employees, clients, and more. So, what should you do to keep your air healthy each winter and beyond?
How to Keep Your Humidifier Clean
You’ll need the following supplies: water, a towel, distilled white vinegar, an empty bottle or measuring cup, and a gentle cleaning tool like cotton swabs or a toothbrush.
First, remove the tank from the base. Then, to the well of the base, add either 1 cup of vinegar or a one-half cup of vinegar and a one-half cup of water.
Next, use your toothbrush, cotton swab, or whatever cleaning tool you’ve gathered, and reach into the crevices you can access to scrub off scale in the well. After, rinse thoroughly until there is no smell of vinegar, then towel dry.
For the last step, pour one cup of vinegar and one cup of water into the tank. Close the tank, letting the solution soak for at least twenty minutes. Shake the humidifier and swish the water around periodically, then drain the solution and thoroughly rinse until no vinegar smell remains. Towel dry.
Humidifier Maintenance Tips
To give yourself a better chance of keeping mold out of your humidifier, the Mayo Clinic offers some additional humidifier maintenance tips.
First, use distilled or demineralized water. This is recommended over tap water because tap water contains minerals that might cause bacteria to grow inside your humidifier, which might look like white dust collecting on furniture and other items when released. Distilled or demineralized water contains significantly less minerals than tap water. (You might also consider using demineralization cartridges or filters if the manufacturer recommends it.)
You should also change humidifier filters per manufacturer guidelines (although you can always change filters more frequently if they’re dirty).
Additionally, keep the area around the humidifier dry. Otherwise, items like drapes, carpets, windows, or tablecloths may get damp or wet.
You should also follow instructions for central humidifiers built into your central heating or cooling system. Read the instruction manual or ask a heating and cooling repairperson how to keep the unit clean.
Lastly, consider replacing old humidifiers. Material can build up inside that’s hard to remove, making them more difficult to clean over time. To avoid health risks, it may be safer to discard any old ones and purchase new ones.
How Often Should You Clean a Humidifier?
The Mayo Clinic states you should clean your humidifier every three days. Consumer Reports recommends a daily “dose” of 1) unplugging the humidifier, 2) emptying and rinsing out the tank, 3) towel-drying, and 4) refilling your humidifier’s tank with fresh water. (This is especially important for cool-mist or ultrasonic humidifiers.) Every week, deep clean the humidifier’s tank and base’s well. Filters and wicks should be cleaned according to manufacturer recommendations.
If you ever choose to store your humidifier, dry it thoroughly beforehand (this includes draining and cleaning it). Later, when you get it out of storage, clean the tank again, and only fill it when you’re ready to use. Throw away any used cartridges, filters, or cassettes.
SERVPRO® Remediates Mold, Cleans Air Ducts, and Removes Odor
If excessive moisture is present, mold can grow after just 24 to 72 hours. SERVPRO’s mold remediation services include a thorough assessment of your property, techniques to detect mold and areas of hidden moisture, and ultimately, a deep clean and remediation of mold spores. For more information, read about SERVPRO’s mold remediation process.
As for air duct, air vent, and HVAC cleaning, SERVPRO professionals follow standards for the air duct cleaning industry as defined by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Using a variety of equipment and chemicals, SERVPRO franchises use chemicals registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Odor removal is an important part of cleanup and restoration. If your humidifier goes haywire or you find yourself in need of thorough deodorization services, give your local SERVPRO a call. Using a variety of techniques (such as using masking, pairing, and/or filtration agents), the odor removal process is completed in four steps. First, the odor source is removed. Second, residues are cleaned from surfaces. Third, conditions are re-created that caused odor penetration in the first place (with the goal of following the odor to its source and eliminating it). Lastly, sealing may be required on various surfaces exposed to the odor.
SERVPRO is Ready to Clean, Restore, and Reconstruct 24/7
If your humidifier causes issues, or you find yourself in need of cleanup services beyond what you can do yourself, reach out to your local SERVPRO. Established in 1967 and with decades of experience, professionals at each SERVPRO franchise are trained in providing elite cleanup, restoration, and construction services at a moment’s notice. Clean air isn’t something to take lightly. Outside of mold remediation services, air duct and HVAC cleaning, and deodorization services, SERVPRO also offers water damage cleanup, fire damage cleanup, storm damage cleanup, and more. Find your local SERVPRO today and reach out anytime. With over 2210 SERVPRO locations, we are Here to Help® and available 24/7 year-round, including holidays and weekends.