Things You'll Need
Vacuum or whisk broom
Plastic pail or bucket
Specific instructions for cleaning your humidifier's filter are usually available in the owner's manual. If you don't have the owner's manual, check the manufacturer's website. Humidifier filters don't need to be cleaned as frequently as the humidifier tank does. In general, you can expect to clean the tank once every three days and the filter once a week. You'll need to clean both more often if your home is dusty or you have hard water. You can reduce how frequently you need to clean or replace the filter by using distilled water in your humidifier.
Humidifiers can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus if not cleaned regularly, and the filter is no exception. The humidifier filter must be replaced regularly, but hand-cleaning can extend its lifetime and improve air quality. This method will work with most humidifier filters, but keep in mind that paper filters cannot be cleaned. Heavily soiled filters, and those that show signs of mold growth, should be replaced rather than cleaned.
Remove the humidifier filter from the machine and brush or vacuum lightly to remove any loose scale, dirt or dust. If the filter is wet from recent use, skip this step.
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Combine one gallon of water and one cup of undiluted white vinegar in a plastic pail or bucket.
Completely submerge the humidifier filter in the vinegar and water solution and allow to soak for 20 minutes to loosen scale and buildup. You can swish the filter around in the water every few minutes to speed up the process.
Remove the humidifier filter from the solution and rinse several times under running water. If your humidifier uses a soft filter, you can squeeze out excess water gently between rinsing. Don't squeeze rigid filters. Never wring or twist the filter, as this may damage it.
Allow to dry completely at room temperature before replacing the filter in the machine. Don't try to hasten the drying process by using a source of heat; this may damage the filter and render it unusable.
Peggy Deland has been a writer and editor since 2007. Her articles appear on a variety of websites, including Life Unplugged and ConsumerSearch. Deland specializes in topics such as health, aviculture, science, green living and travel.