Here's How Often You Should Really Be Cleaning Your Humidifier

If you or someone in your household is congested and struggling to breathe, you probably know that a humidifier can help by increasing the humidity inside your home, according to Web MD. Perhaps you even use a humidifier every day. Of course, if indoor humidity runs too high, you'll have other issues. In addition to helping you breathe easier when your home's humidity is low, a humidifier can also improve dry skin, dry eyes, a dry cough, sore throat, and allergies.

All these benefits sound great, but there's something you might not be doing that could sabotage all the good things a humidifier does for your home. If you have one, do you remember the last time you cleaned it? If the answer is no, or if it was a while ago, chances are you could be doing more harm for your household than good with the device. According to Good Housekeeping, a poorly maintained humidifier is a breeding ground for mold and microbes, which could wreak havoc on your breathing. 

Here's how to clean your humidifier

Web MD notes that your humidifier needs to be cleaned at least once a week. Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Labs at the Good Housekeeping Institute, says, "It's always best to follow the cleaning directions of your model," she says. "The key, whatever the type, is to clean and maintain it regularly. Stagnant water is a magnet for bacteria growth, and you don't want bacteria spewing back into the air, especially if family members suffer with asthma or allergies" (via Good Housekeeping). 

According to Web MD, no matter what type of humidifier you have, you should unplug the device before cleaning it. Each day, you should empty and rinse the tank even if you're not doing a complete cleaning. Weekly, you should use a vinegar solution to demineralize your humidifier and then disinfect it with a 10% bleach solution to kill any germs. Good Housekeeping recommends allowing the vinegar solution to sit for about 20 minutes and then using a small brush to loosen any remaining mineral deposits. After that, thoroughly rinse out the tank. Finally, check and clean or replace filters regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you're careful with keeping your humidifier clean, it can be a helpful device, improving your household's health.