apple cider vinegar solution being prepared for humidifier cleaning

How to Clean a Humidifier With Vinegar?

When cleaning your humidifiers, you’ll hear a lot about the best ways to do it. But nothing beats good old vinegar. This guide will dive deeply into how to clean a humidifier with vinegar.

Not only is it safe, but it’s also very effective in getting dirt and grime loose. So, you can get in there and scrub them off effortlessly. Let’s start with the types of vinegar first.

Types of Vinegar for Cleaning Humidifiers

Vinegar is very versatile. But you’ll see different types of vinegar in your local store. The question is, then, which one do you choose?

There are primarily four common types of vinegar. You have your distilled white vinegar, cleaning vinegar, industrial vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.

Distilled White Vinegar

It is your typical and common vinegar and is one of the most versatile. It has about 5% acetic acid and is perfect for cleaning too!

You can use distilled white vinegar to clean your humidifier. But remember to rinse it well. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with that distinct vinegar smell constantly.

Cleaning Vinegar

Next up, we have cleaning vinegar. From the name, it’s obvious what this type of vinegar is meant for. Cleaning vinegar has more acetic acid content between 6 – 7 percent. The best thing about cleaning vinegar is right in its name.

It’s a fantastic all-purpose cleaning solution that you can use to clean out your humidifier. Cleaning your humidifier regularly is very important.

Otherwise, the bacteria and micro-organism build-up can be harmful. And cleaning vinegar is an excellent way to deep clean your humidifier to avoid health hazards. A word of caution, though, cleaning vinegar should never be ingested. It’s solely for cleaning.

Industrial Vinegar

Industrial vinegar has a very high acetic acid content, around the 20 – 30 percent mark. You certainly don’t want to ingest it, either. Industrial vinegar is typically used for killing weeds and on commercial buildings.

The high acetic acid makes it a big no-no for indoor and home cleaning. It produces fumes, and it can even scratch some surfaces. So, it’s best to avoid industrial vinegar for cleaning your humidifier.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is just as effective as white distilled vinegar when cleaning. So you can use it to clean your humidifier without any worries.

There’s a side benefit as well. It smells pretty nice. You don’t have to deal with the vinegary smell that many people don’t quite like.

What Vinegar to Water Ratio for Cleaning a Humidifier?

If you want a more diluted cleaning solution, mixing vinegar with water is the way. We recommend keeping the ratio 50:50.

If you’re measuring the vinegar in cups, then just having 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water is fine. Mixing water and vinegar isn’t a substitute for giving your humidifier a good rubdown. After you clean it, you should wipe it dry with a towel.

Can you clean a humidifier with white vinegar?

White vinegar is very effective for cleaning humidifiers. And since they’re also used for cooking, you will likely find them.

They’re perfect for getting all those nasty grimes and build-up. Cleaning with white vinegar is pretty straightforward. Let’s check out a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

How to Clean a Humidifier with White Vinegar?

Cleaning your humidifier with white vinegar is easy and won’t take much time. You’ll have to wait 30 to 40 minutes in one step. But it’s worth the wait for how well vinegar cleans your humidifier.

Step 1: Unplug and Dissemble

The first step is to unplug and dissemble your humidifier. It’ll allow you to get all the nooks and crannies.

Step 2: Pour Vinegar Solution into the Tank and Base

Mix your vinegar and water to create a cleaning solution. You can also use vinegar without any water. But some brands recommend mixing it with water.

Pour the mixture into the tank. It would help if you swished it around. It’ll ensure that every inch of the tank is covered with the solution. Then place the tank on top of the base. The tank will let the vinegar drain into the tank.

And that’s precisely what we want. Alternatively, if you have direct access to the base, you can pour the mixture directly onto it, like in this video guide. But not all humidifiers allow you to do that.

Step 3: Wait For 30 to 40 Minutes

Now comes the tricky bit. You’ll need to wait at least 30 to 40 minutes for the solution to do its magic. This time will let the solution loosens up all the mineral build-up.

Step 4: Empty Your Humidifier and Scrub

Now it’s time to give it a scrub to reach those small places. An old toothbrush works wonders here. Use a brush to scrub your humidifier clean. You can use a brush. But other things will work too.

But remember not to use any abrasives, though. That might leave nasty scratch marks inside your humidifier.

Pro Tip: Here’s a nifty little trick. You can dip small parts like the tank cap into white vinegar and clean it with a cloth. Do this when you’re waiting for the vinegar to settle.

Step 5: Rinse, Rinse and Rinse

After scrubbing off the grime and build-up, you must rinse all the parts. Take extra care to do this very thoroughly. Otherwise, you might be left with a vinegary smell which can be unpleasant.

Then take a towel to dry it out. Also, please leave it to air dry till it’s completely dry. Simply reassemble, and voila! You’re done.

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean Humidifiers?

If you already have some apple cider vinegar, you can use that to clean your humidifier. So, you don’t even need to create any solution.

As a bonus, you’ll love the smell too. You don’t need any special tools to clean your humidifier.

How to Clean Humidifiers with Apple Cider Vinegar?

The cleaning process for apple cider vinegar is the same as cleaning with white vinegar. So, you can refer to the steps of that.

But remember that even though it might smell nice, you’ll still need to rinse it out thoroughly. Make sure to get rid of all of the vinegar and air dry it thoroughly before using it again.

Cleaning Warm Mist Humidifier vs. Cool Mist Humidifier with Vinegar

Before wrapping up, when you’re cleaning your humidifier, whether cool mist or warm mist, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. We’ll keep these points short and to the point.

Warm mist humidifiers

  • Warm mist humidifiers use energy, and that causes them to get hot. Always wait till they’re cool to the tough.
  • Don’t damage any of the electrical parts of the humidifier
  • Rinse thoroughly and let air dry
  • Wipe the exterior only with a damp cloth

Cool mist humidifiers

  • Make sure to let it completely dry
  • Never use any abrasives
  • Keep the area around it dry


Now you should have a pretty good idea about how to clean a humidifier with vinegar. It would be best to clean your humidifier at least once a week. Just keep in mind to be careful cleaning a warm mist one. You should let it completely cool down first.

Related reading: Best Humidifier Review & Buying Guide

Related reading: Can You Put Vinegar in a Humidifier?

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