How to Prevent Mineral Buildup in a Humidifier

Humidifiers are used to increase the amount of moisture in the air. The increased humidity makes the home more comfortable, particularly in winter, when hot, dry air from the furnace can cause itchy skin, chapped lips and dry sinus passages. Many people fill their humidifier tanks with tap water. While this may cut immediate costs, in many locales the tap water contains a number of dissolved minerals. These minerals can form deposits on the humidifier's elements, inhibiting the effectiveness of the appliance and ultimately shortening its lifespan. Removing and preventing mineral deposits is both inexpensive and simple.

Step 1

Turn the humidifier off and pull its plug from the electrical outlet. Drain the water from the reservoir and then refill it with a vinegar solution. This will help to remove any mineral deposits that are currently present. For every cup of water poured into the tank, add 1 cup distilled white vinegar. Fill the tank to within 1 inch of the brim and allow it to soak for up to 4 hours.

Step 2

Drain the humidifier reservoir, and wipe down the interior surfaces with a damp sponge. Pat dry with paper towels and then remove any trays, hoses or filters. Rinse all removable parts under hot, running water.

Step 3

Treat any visible mineral deposits with undiluted vinegar. Dip a soft cloth in distilled white vinegar and then apply the cloth to the affected area. Rub briskly until the scale is completely dissolved. Rinse under running water, and set on a clean towel to dry.

Step 4

Replace the parts of the humidifier, and fill the reservoir with filtered or distilled water. This water has been processed to remove the mineral content. Alternatively, fill the reservoir with standard tap water and add a water-softening tablet to help dissolve the minerals.


Lisa Parris

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.