Humidifiers are a great addition to your home air conditioning arsenal. They keep indoor air humid and healthy, thus protecting you and your family from potential health issues, especially breathing problems. The right humidity level is also vital for healthy skin.
However, for the humidification to be effective, your humidifier must be clean and well-maintained. Lack of (or poor) maintenance can result in the buildup of mineral sediments inside the humidifier, which poses various threats to everyone in the house. A dirty humidifier is also an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms.
Buying an easy-to-clean unit allows you to keep the humidifier sparkling clean at all times for optimal performance.
So, which are these easy to clean humidifiers?
That’s what this guide is about. We review some of the best easy to clean cool mist humidifiers and even provide a few tips to keep in mind when you decide to invest in one of these appliances.
Now that we know about some of the best easy-to-clean humidifiers, let’s go back to the buying process. Why do you need to keep your humidifier clean? What would happen if you failed to clean it for an extended period? Also, how often should you clean it, and how exactly do you clean a typical humidifier? Let’s start with a definition.
What are Humidifiers? Definition and Types
Humidifiers are devices that emit water vapor, mist, or steam to increase moisture levels (humidity) in the home. There are several categories of humidifiers, the most popular being;
- Central humidifiers: These are built into the home heating and air conditioning systems and designed to humidify the entire home.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers: These use sound vibration to break down water particles into fine mist particles. The mist is then dispersed into the room.
- Impeller humidifiers: An impeller humidifier e minerals include also breaks down water particles into vapor. However, rather than sound vibrations, it relies on a rotating disc that flings water to a diffuser, which breaks the water particles into mist.
- Evaporator humidifiers: The name “evaporative” might be misleading here as these humidifiers don’t rely on evaporation to humidify. Instead, they use a fan to blow unheated air over a wet absorbent material to break the particles into fine mist.
- Steam humidifiers: Steam humidifiers are the ones that depend on water evaporation to humidify. The water is evaporated into steam, which is then sent into your rooms.
Which Humidifiers are Likely to be Untidy?
Unfortunately, all types of humidifiers can become dirty. To prove this, in 2016, Good Morning America collected ten humidifiers from Philadelphia-area families and brought them to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philly for testing. All the ten were tested for bacteria and mold inside the humidifier’s water tank, and in the vapor it sends into the room.
It’s worth noting that some families from where these humidifiers were collected had children with asthma and allergies. All the families had admitted that they didn’t clean their humidifiers as often as necessary.
“I don’t know what you’re going to find, but I’m curious to see,” Kenny Dublin of Merion, Pennsylvania, said. “I don’t know how to clean a humidifier,” another candidate admitted.
Long story short, all the ten humidifiers contained some level of bacteria in the water tank, two of them with “heavy” levels of bacteria growing inside the tank and getting outside into the indoor air alongside the moisture. Three had mold inside.
Why should you keep your humidifier clean? What happens when you don’t clean the humidifier?
You need to keep your humidifier clean because it’s your responsibility to keep a clean home. When everything else inside the house is clean, why would you stop at the humidifier? Why shouldn’t the humidifier be clean too? It doesn’t make sense.
If you want a clean home, then the humidifier must be clean, too – because it forms part of the home. Otherwise, it’s two steps forward and three backward. The following are three other critical reasons to keep your humidifier tidy at all times.
- A dirty humidifier is an inefficient humidifier
You probably didn’t see us starting with this one, but it’s crucial. For one, most people use tap water in their humidifiers. This water contains minerals, including sodium and magnesium. Additionally, the water may also have dirt particles.
Over a prolonged period, these elements can corrode the tank’s inside, block the wick, and compromise the filter. They can also affect the process through which water molecules are broken into mist. This can compromise the humidifier’s capacity to produce mist at the desired rate/speed and quality. These inefficiencies may also result in increased power consumption.
- Mineral buildup and associated risks
Another crucial reason why you should keep your humidifier clean at all times is the risk of mineral buildup and the potential consequences.
Many manufacturers recommend using distilled water in the humidifier. But, let’s be honest; many of us mostly use tap water. The buildup of these minerals creates two significant problems. First, it accelerates wear and tear, meaning that your humidifier may not last very long. Sometimes it even causes leaking.
Secondly, the minerals often find a way into the rest of the home, either in their active form or as “white dust.” Breathing in minerals is bad for your health. White dust, meanwhile, can affect indoor décor.
- Growth of mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms
Finally, an untidy humidifier is also the perfect breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms.
Mold is a type of fungus. It is present almost everywhere. But, the normal mold count in the environment is not high enough to pose a concern. However, it poses multiple health risks in higher concentrations, including allergies, asthma, and respiratory infections.
Bacteria inside the humidifier can also cause or exuberate coughs and other respiratory health conditions. This is especially true in people with compromised immune systems. These bacteria (and mold) can grow inside the water inside the tank or other humidifier areas that haven’t been cleaned in a long time.
How often should you clean the humidifier?
It depends. The rule of thumb is to deep clean at least once a week. We’ll discuss the deep-cleaning process shortly. However, there’s no harm in cleaning it more often, especially if you use it every day. An older humidifier may also benefit from more frequent cleaning.
In addition to deep cleaning, you’re advised to rinse the tank and water basin daily or before every use, whichever comes first. Empty the tank, rinse out any standing water left in there using freshwater, then take out the drain basin, if one is present, and rinse it too.
Rinsing the tank and water basin daily eliminates any dirt particles or microorganisms that may have been inside the humidifier. Make sure to wipe both the tank and basin dry before you add new water.
Step-by-Step Process of Cleaning the Humidifier
Some humidifiers are extremely easy to clean. The MIRO modular models discussed in the reviews above, for instance, come apart with ease and are designed such that every corner of each component is accessible, thus washable.
Other humidifiers, however, might be a little more challenging to take apart, or some parts may not be easily reachable. Whichever is the case, the cleaning process is the same.
What you need
- White vinegar
- Bleach or hydrogen peroxide
- Plenty of water
- A soft-bristled brush
- Gloves and goggles
- Clean towels
The cleaning process
Once you have the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to clean. Before you begin, make sure you’ve read the manufacturer’s manual for any special instructions. For instance, the manual may advise on taking apart the unit or cleaning to use and those to avoid. After reading the manual, proceed as follows;
- Switch off and unplug the humidifier
Many guides usually leave out this process. But, it’s perhaps the most important in the entire process. Never attempt to clean the humidifier when it’s plugged into the electrical supply. You risk electric shock and possible electrocution.
- Disassemble the humidifier
First, the water tank should be able to come out completely to facilitate thorough washing. The filter (many cool-mist humidifiers have one) should also be taken out for cleaning or replacement. Aside from these two parts, see which other parts can be unattached from the base. Many humidifiers don’t use screws, so it could only be a matter of unlatching or unlocking the parts.
- Soak the base and parts in vinegar
Pour enough vinegar into the base such that it covers all areas that usually come in contact with water. At the same time, pour enough vinegar into a basin or any other large container and place all the other washable parts (except the tank) into this solution. Then allow everything to soak for 30 minutes.
- Soak the tank in a bleach solution
Notice that we don’t use vinegar here. Instead, you’re required to use a solution of one teaspoonful of bleach and a gallon of water. You can substitute the bleach with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Make sure to fill the tank past the halfway line, then allow to soak for 30 minutes.
- Time to scrub the parts and base
After soaking for 30 minutes, the base and other parts soaked in step three are scrubbed using the soft-bristled brush. Several humidifiers come with special brushes for the scrubbing, but any soft-bristled brush should do the trick. Make sure to reach every corner of every component you soaked.
- Rinse the base, parts, and tank
This is where you’ll need a lot of water. Tap water is more than sufficient. Thoroughly rinse the base and tank, making sure to shake them to dislodge any trapped water and solid particles. It may take several passes before the smell of the chemicals begins to disappear. Once the scent is gone, lay out all the parts over the fresh towels to dry in an open area.
- Reassemble and refill with new water
Put the parts back together, including the tank and filter. Then, fill the tank with mineral-free water, plug it in, and resume usage.
Frequently asked questions
- What Kills Mold Better? Bleach or Vinegar?
Both are effective. However, vinegar just tips the scale because bleach only kills mold spores on the affected material’s surface. In contrast, vinegar will penetrate porous material and kill the mold at the roots.
- What Can I Put in my Humidifier to Kill Bacteria?
The least expensive option is hydrogen peroxide. Just a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the water reservoir will kill both bacteria and mold.
- Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Humidifier
There are three key things you need to avoid. First, never let the humidity levels rise too high. Over-humidification comes with several risks. Secondly, never use tap water. Use distilled or demineralized water. Finally, don’t forget to clean the humidifier often.
Let’s begin by looking at some of the best products in this category. These humidifiers are designed to remain clean during use but are also incredibly easy to clean when they get dirty.
- MIRO-NR08M Completely Washable Modular Sanity Humidifier
- Elegant design
- Wash in a flash
- Waterproof parts
- Works with smart home devices
- Most expensive on this list
The Model NR08M (2018 Premium Version) is one of MIRO’s most advanced humidifiers to date. It features a revolutionary floating, completely washable design. This means that every part of the item is washable, including the water tank, ultrasonic mist maker, and fan. Better still, the parts come apart with ease and only require hot water and soap to wash.
It’s also a very high-tech humidifier. The mist maker floats include a bowl and is connected to a smart touch control panel. The touch controls allow you to play around with different functions of the humidifier. You can also upgrade the NR08M to MIROT connectivity chip for smart home control with Alexa, Google Home, and Bluetooth.
Other standout features of the MIRO NR08M include remote control, colorful, softly glowing LED mood lights, and two different vapor caps, one of which can be used with a noise muffler for noise-free humidification.
- MIRO NR07G Humidifier – Completely Washable Modular Humidifier
- Simple, modern, elegant design
- Every corner is reachable, washable
- Top-fill with a huge 4-liter tank
- Tranquil operation
- It’s one of the pricier options
- Refilling is a little bothersome
Another completely washable MIRO, the floating, waterproof NR07G, also comes apart with ease, and every surface is visible and washable. This makes it a great option if you’re shopping for an easy-to-clean humidifier. You can clean virtually every corner of the entire humidifier. No part is unreachable.
Something else that stands out about the NR07G is the absence of wet filters to change. Humidifiers that utilize filters are inherently more challenging to maintain because the filter is an extremely delicate component. Often, you need to wash the filter with special chemicals and tools and change it at the right time to avoid dirt buildup. With the NR07G, you don’t need any special chemicals or tools – just hot water and soap.
The NR07G is a top-filling humidifier. It runs powerfully, producing 500cc, but with minimal, if any, sound. It features an auto-shut-off system that automatically shuts off the unit when it runs out of water.
- Homesh Model HM-AH001 Quiet Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Wide opening allows effortless cleaning
- Quiet humidification at under 26 decibels
- Large capacity lasts up to 50 hours
- 360-degree humidity coverage
- Doesn’t support essential oils
If the first two products on the list are out of your price range, another excellent option when shopping for an easy to clean humidifier is this ultrasonic humidifier from Homesh. The 4-liter (1.06 gallon) humidifier uses a dustproof sponge to absorb acoustical waves and advanced technology to drain the fog pipe’s water for three minutes after the mist stops to keep the unit both clean and dry. It also features a wide 92mm opening for simple cleaning and filling. An adjunct brush for cleaning the base is included.
Aside from the ease of cleaning, the HM-AH001 is a large capacity humidifier designed for large rooms. The 4-liter tank can run continuously for up to 50 hours at a 60ml/hour mist level. The mist levels are adjustable up to 300ml/hour. A 360-degree rotating nozzle at the height of up to 24 inches ensures even humidification throughout the room.
The unit employs several technologies for safety and protection. It has an auto-shutoff function, dry burn protection, and a waterproof IC board. It also uses a dustproof sponge to prevent dust from entering the unit.
- GENIANI Top Fill Cool Mist Humidifier for Bedroom & Essential Oil Diffuser
- Simple, top-fill design
- Large, 4-liter water tank
- Filter-free design
- LED night lights (with turn-off option)
- 2-year warranty
- The price is a little high
- You can’t add essential oils directly
This GENIANI is also a 4-liter (1.06 gallon) humidifier. But unlike the other options on this list, it allows you to use essential oils without compromising the humidification process. This makes it a fantastic choice for people who can’t live without the aroma of essential oils in their homes. It’s also a top-fill unit, meaning that adding water or your essential oils is a breeze.
Two qualities make it a worthy consideration when shopping for an easy-to-clean humidifier. First, it’s a filter-free unit. The absence of filters means you don’t need to worry about changing or washing filters with special chemicals. Secondly, the wide opening at the top that makes refilling easy also significantly simplifies the cleaning process.
The GENIANI is impressively quiet at 38 decibels and features a smart mode that utilizes a built-in sensor to adjust mist levels automatically. It has four mist settings in total.
- Homasy HM510A Cool Mist Humidifier Diffuser, 2.5L Essential Oil Diffuser
- 2-in-1 humidifier and diffuser
- Essential oil compatible
- Feature auto-shutoff
- 360-degree efficient humidification
- Design is too basic
If you’re interested in a humidifier + essential oils diffuser 2-in-1 combo but are on a tighter budget, the Homesy MH510A is an excellent alternative. A 2.4-liter humidifier, it’s smaller and therefore ideal form smaller-sized rooms. Ideally, you want to use it in spaces up to 300 square feet. However, it’s also one of the quietest humidifiers on this list, rated at a mere 25 decibels.
Even better, it’s a one-piece top-fill design that’s simple to use and very easy to clean. You don’t need to remove the tank to clean the unit. Just twist the cover downward and directly add water through the large opening at the top. A similar approach allows you to clean the unit easily.
Other key features of the MH510A include the waterless auto-shutoff, convenient touch controls, semi-transparent water tank, and multiple mist levels. When full, the tank can run continuously for up to 30 hours.
- Honeywell HCM350W Germ-free Cool Mist Humidifier
- UV protection against germs
- Kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria
- Easy to carry, easy to fill, easy to clean
- Backed by a 3-year warranty
- Use of essential oils prohibited
Finally, the Honeywell HCM350W is a very popular humidifier that’s also considered one of the best in the germ and mold-free category. It employs several technologies to fight microorganisms. These include ultraviolet (UV) to kill 99.9% of bacteria, Genuine Honeywell replacement filters treated with Protect Antimicrobial, and the Protect Cleaning Ball to keep the humidifier cleaner for longer.
It’s worth noting that the HCM350W is an evaporative humidifier that uses a wick filer. To keep it clean throughout, you’ll need to change the wicks as recommended by the manufacturer.
The humidifier features a one-gallon tank that can run continuously for 24 hours on the low setting. It also features a Honeywell humidity sensor that digitally displays relative humidity and temperature. This way, you’ll know the best humidity setting for your home. You’re warned against using essential oils in this humidifier. Adding essential oils to the tank can void the warranty.
As you can see, humidifier cleanliness is just as important as having the first place. If your humidifier isn’t cleaned as often as necessary, there’s a risk of ineffective performance and, more importantly, health infections, including asthma, coughs, and other respiratory illnesses.
Begin by buying a humidifier that’s easy to clean. We’ve discussed several options in the review section. Then, make sure to clean it regularly to kick out the mold, bacteria, and other harmful organisms.