A humidifier in your home helps counteract overly dry air. It can soothe irritated respiratory passages, improve dry skin and in general make your family more comfortable. Your humidifier is at risk for developing mold because its interior is moist and filled with water. Bleach can help you keep your humidifier clean so it is safe to use.
Bleach is ideal for disinfecting a home humidifier. If you use the humidifier on a regular basis, you need to disinfect it every 10 days or so. This will kill any mold growing inside so it blows out moist air and not mold spores. Add 1/2 cup of bleach to a gallon of water and pour the solution into the humidifier. Run the humidifier until it starts to mist, then turn it off and let the solution sit for several minutes. Empty out the bleach and rinse the unit with water, then run it with water for several minutes until you can no longer smell bleach in the mist. Empty out the water, rinse the unit again and fill it with clean water for use.
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If you humidifier warns against using bleach to clean it, do not risk damaging the unit. You can substitute a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide instead of the bleach and water mixture. Hydrogen peroxide is not as efficient at killing mold and germs as bleach, so you need to clean your humidifier more often to keep it clean. For an all-natural cleaner, undiluted white vinegar can substitute for bleach. You will need to clean your humidifier every three days or so to keep it clean when using vinegar.
If you want to keep the water in your humidifier smelling clean, using bleach to clean the unit out will help. You cannot add bleach to the water while your humidifier is in use. Instead, add an essential oil to the water. Some, such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus, have disinfecting properties that will help keep your humidifier clean. Others, such as lavender or lemon, just have pleasing scents. Essential oils are strong, so only add a drop or two to the water. Before adding oil to the water, place a drop on the plastic of your humidifier and let it sit for several hours to be sure it will not cause any damage to it.
When using bleach to clean your humidifier, it is best to work with the unit outdoors. You need a well-ventilated area because inhaling the bleach mixture from the humidifier's misting vent could cause respiratory irritation and even damage your lungs. There is a small risk that the bleach droplet could land on carpeting or upholstery and damage or bleach them. Wear gloves when working with bleach to protect your skin.