Can You Put Vinegar in a Humidifier?

As winter comes around, the atmosphere dries up, and humidifiers diligently begin their job of diffusing moisture into the air inside homes. A good balance of moisture in the atmosphere helps relieve symptoms of flu, keeps the skin from cracking, prevents chapped lips, relieves sinus headaches, and is also a good treatment for coughs and aggravated vocal cords.

Humidifiers are responsible for the air in your home, and ultimately, your respiratory health. This calls for extra care and routine clean-up of your humidifier.

So, how have you been cleaning your humidifier? Have you considered vinegar?

Why would you want to put vinegar in the humidifier?

Good question. But what is vinegar to you? Beloved cooking agent? Your beloved cooking agent plays a very different but very important role in many households: it is their go-to cleaning solution.

And reasonably so. A solution made of water and acetic acid, vinegar is a very strong cleaning agent. It is clear and does not leave stains. Though classified as a weak acid, the acetic acid content in vinegar can easily kill germs and bacteria. It is also very effective for cleaning dirt and grease, getting rid of mold, and even dissolving minerals. And, to add the cherry to the cake, vinegar is conveniently cheap.

All of these make vinegar an ideal cleaning solution for your humidifier.

Can you put white vinegar in a humidifier?

Yes, you can put white vinegar in a humidifier. There are many different types of vinegar, but since we are talking about cleaning, mainly two types will come up: white vinegar and distilled vinegar.

Distilled vinegar contains 5 to 8% acetic acid, which we normally use for cooking. On the other hand, white vinegar contains 5 to 20% acetic acid. White vinegar thus makes a stronger cleaning agent, but distilled vinegar will also work well to clean your humidifier.

Can I put apple cider vinegar in my humidifier?

Yes, you can put apple cider vinegar in your humidifier. Now then, what about the famous apple cider vinegar? While you can use this vinegar for cleaning purposes the combination can do so much more.

Adding apple cider vinegar to the humidifier water is a popular way of curing sinus headaches. You can add a quarter cup of vinegar to your humidifier water and relieve your sinus congestion naturally.


What happens if you don’t clean your humidifier?

Wet and moist environments are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi. Without cleaning, the humidifier becomes a haven for molds to grow and bacteria to thrive. Moreover, as the water evaporates, it might leave back minerals, leading to an accumulation of minerals in your humidifier and further encouraging the bacteria. This will lead to a health hazard when breathed in.

How often should you clean your humidifier?

It is best to wash out your humidifier everyday with water using a vinegar solution. It should be deep cleaned every now and then, about 2 to 3 times per week.

Should you use distilled or tap water in your humidifier?

Using distilled water for your humidifier is the safer option. It prevents the buildup of minerals which can trigger bacterial growth. However, if you live in a developed country with a good water supply, you may use tap water.

Can you run vinegar through a humidifier to clean it?

Yes, you can run vinegar through a humidifier to clean it. But, it has to be apple cider vinegar. You can clean your humidifier with white/distilled vinegar but not RUN the vinegar through it. Normal vinegar is not particularly helpful for the breathing system and may cause irritation in the eyes and airways.

How to clean my humidifier with vinegar?

  1. First, unplug and disassemble the humidifier.
  2. Make a solution with water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.
  3. Fill out your humidifier reservoir and your humidifier base with the solution. Let both rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Take out a toothbrush/bottle brush. Reach into the nooks and crannies of the whole machine and scrub them.
  5. Immerse a washcloth into full-strength 100% vinegar. Use it to wipe all the parts you can reach into.

Does vinegar kill bacteria in humidifiers?

Yes, vinegar kills a range of bacteria and viruses in humidifiers due to its acidic properties. pH change has a huge impact on cellular wall membranes. The drop in pH caused by the acetic acid alters the structures of the fatty acids and proteins that form the bacterial cell walls.

Please note: despite its bacteria-killing properties, vinegar is not a certified disinfectant. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) rules, a certified disinfectant can kill about 99.9% of pathogens in a span of five to ten minutes.


One study found fungus growing on 75% of its sampled humidifiers, while 87% were infected with bacteria. Considering how air circulates through your whole house, this is quite alarming.

Apart from cleaning your humidifier two to three times every week, there is one more thing you should do: Empty out your humidifier reservoir and replace it with clean water every day.

Read more: Best Humidifier Reviews

Related reading: Do You Put Hot Water or Cold Water in a Humidifier?

Related reading: Can You Put Salt in a Humidifier

Related reading: How to Clean a Humidifier With Vinegar?

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