In winter, the combination of colder temperatures, dry air, and turned-up thermostats can wreak havoc on your respiratory and immune system. One of the best ways to reduce your risk for infection is to start using a humidifier. Although humidifiers can help to relieve sinusitis, moisturize dry skin, protect vocal cords, and halt the spread of flu germs, they can also promote bacteria and mold growth if not cleaned properly. Clean your humidifier by doing the following:
Step 1: Unplug your humidifier from the wall and disassemble it completely. If your particular model includes an air filter, be sure to remove it and clean with cool running water and let it air dry.
Step 2: Pour white vinegar into the base so that it fills all the surface area that water normally touches. Submerge any loose parts of the humidifier in a large container to soak. To disinfect the water tank use a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach or three percent hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of water. Fill the tank halfway and swirl the solution around so the entire inside is coated.
Step 3: Use tap water to thoroughly rinse the base, tank, and any other pieces. Shake them well to clear any trapped moisture. Lay all the pieces out to air dry.
Step 4: Once all pieces have dried completely, reassemble and resume use of the humidifier.
Humidifiers should be cleaned once a week if being used on a regular basis. Distilled water is also recommended to use for humidifiers, as tap water has minerals added that are dispersed into the air along with the vapor. These minerals can not only leave a coat of white dust in the surround areas, but also aid bacteria growth due to the deposits that are difficult to clean.