Why Your Clean Humidifier is Making You Sick

Dry winter air causes a broad range of health issues from nosebleeds to dehydration and dry skin to pneumonia. A portable humidifier can help avoid these problems by putting much-needed moisture back into the air you breath. But sometimes a humidifier can do more harm than good. This checklist will help you figure out if the one you use is making sick.

  • 01 of 06

    Your Humidifier May Not Be As Clean As You Think

    A working humidifier

    Bart Everson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    A dirty humidifier is a breeding ground for germs, mold, and bacteria that triggers severe allergy symptoms and even lung infections. 

    The best way you can combat these airborne nasties is to disinfect your humidifier before using. When using your humidifier daily, repeat the following process every three days.

  • 02 of 06

    To Clean Inside a Dirty Humidifier

    To deep clean your machine, first, disinfect its base using three-percent hydrogen peroxide or white distilled vinegar. Here's what to do:

    1. Unplug your unit.
    2. Remove the unit's water tank and filter.
    3. Pour a generous amount of hydrogen peroxide or white distilled vinegar into the base.
    4. Use a clean toothbrush to scrub away film and mineral build-up.
    5. Next, let the liquid sit in the humidifier’s base for at least 10 to 30 minutes.
    6. Pour the liquid out.
    7. Rinse by adding and swishing fresh water to the base. If any mineral residue is left, repeat the entire process.
    8. When the base is clean, let it air dry.
  • 03 of 06

    Cleaning Inside a Humidifier's Water Tank

    A humidifier's water tank is also a haven for bacteria and mold.

    • To clean use a mixture of four parts water to one part three percent hydrogen peroxide.
    • Leave the solution in the tank for at least 30 minutes.
    • Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let the tank air dry.

    After cleaning, to prevent bacteria and mold growth replace the water in your tank daily and repeat the cleaning process weekly.

  • 04 of 06

    The Water You're Using is Making You Sick

    If your humidifier is aggravating your sinuses and throat after cleaning it's time to stop using tap water and switch to distilled.

    Tap water contains minerals and contaminants that encourage bacteria growth. It's what causes the weird white dust your humidifier leaves behind.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    You Done All of The Above and Your Humidifier is Still Making You Sick

    You cleaned your machine and switched to distilled water. But your humidifier is still aggravating your nose and lungs. What now?  

    It's time for a new machine. Older units often have built up bacteria that's impossible to remove. 

  • 06 of 06

    You May Need a Humidifier That Combats Germs and Bacteria

    The good news is, now you can pick up an antimicrobial humidifier. Units like these purify stored water, so they produce a cleaner and healthier mist. To keep your machine in tip-top-shade follow instructions for cleaning.