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How to Clean a Vicks Humidifier: Daily, Weekly, & Monthly

Make sure the air you’re breathing is fresh and mold-free.

A humidifier is built to last — but you need to keep it clean. Your humidifier can easily accumulate mold and bacteria if you don’t have a regular cleaning routine. This then gets into the air you breathe, making you ill.

We’ll specifically show you how to clean a Vicks humidifier. This is great if you have lost your instruction manual or need more in-depth directions.

Keep reading for our step-by-step guide, which covers filter-free units, the v4600, and more. Soon, you’ll have a germ-free and spotless humidifier.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean your Vicks humidifier daily by rinsing the tank, and perform a deep clean with vinegar weekly.
  • Disinfect your humidifier monthly using bleach or hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria, germs, and viruses.
  • Maintain and clean filters regularly, replacing disposable ones or cleaning reusable ones with a vinegar solution.
  • Avoid using essential oils or other cleaners besides vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide in your Vicks humidifier.

How Often Should You Clean a Humidifier

We recommend rinsing the humidifier daily. It’s good to deep clean it weekly. Aim to disinfect it monthly. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s essential.

Rinsing it daily will ensure you have fresh, clean water in the unit. Deep cleaning it weekly will eliminate any mold, mildew, or bacteria that may be festering. Disinfecting it once a month can kill bacteria, germs, and viruses.

This ensures the air you breathe at home is as safe as possible, which is extra important if you have young children or a baby.

Cleaning A Vaporizer

Cleaning tips differ for a Vicks vaporizer. Only use these methods if you have a humidifier.

How to Clean a Vicks Humidifier Daily

Rinsing it daily is super important to ensure you have fresh water. Here’s how to clean your Vicks humidifier in just five minutes.

  • Time: Five minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Sink.
  • Water.
  • Cloth.

1. Prepare the Area

Place the humidifier on a flat surface. Make sure it’s unplugged and turned off.

2. Remove the Tank and Water Tray

Remove the tank and water tray from the base. Take the water tank off first, then slide out the tray.

3. Empty the Water

Unscrew the tank cap and empty the water into the sink.

4. Rinse the Unit

Rinse the tank with clean, warm water. If it’s too hot, it could damage the tank. Cover the hole with your hand and shake the tank to swish the water around it.

5. Wipe the Tank

Dampen a cloth with warm water and wipe the tank’s exterior and tray. You can also wipe down the unit’s exterior, but make sure not to soak it. Electrics and water don’t mix!

Reassemble your unit. No need to dry the parts since you’ll be filling it back up with water anyway.

How to Clean a Vicks Humidifier With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar is great for weekly cleaning. Vinegar can remove some bacteria, and tackle odors and stains. It’s excellent for descaling the unit, which is handy if you live in a hard water area.

Plus, vinegar is eco-friendly and non-toxic.

You can’t really clean a Vicks humidifier without vinegar, so grab a bottle, and let’s get cleaning.

  • Time: One hour and 20 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar.
  • Water.
  • Jug.
  • Scrubbing brush or old toothbrush.
  • Two cloths.
  • Extra cloths or paper towels.

1. Prepare the Humidifier

Set the unit on a clean flat surface. Turn it off and unplug it. Remove the tank and empty the dirty water.

Rinse it with warm water, cover the hole, shake it and dump out the water again. Leave the tank off for the following steps.

2. Run the Machine

With the tank off the unit, plug the base back in and turn it on. Let the unit run for 15 minutes.

This dries out the base and removes all water residue. Vicks doesn’t personally suggest doing this, but it’s a hack that users have discovered to clear the machine of moisture.

Note This

Not every unit will allow this step. Models with automatic shutoff will not run without the tank on the base. If nothing happens when you try this step, you can skip it.

3. Remove the Filter

Remove the filter by gently pulling it upwards. If you have a filter-free humidifier, you can skip this step.

4. Pour Vinegar into the Base

If you have a removable water tray, take that out. Pour undiluted distilled white vinegar into the tray and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. This will break down mineral deposits and stains, leaving you with a cleaner tank.

5. Clean the Tank With Vinegar

While the vinegar is soaking in the base, combine a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water in a jug. Pour it into the tank and swish it around gently for a few minutes.

You can also pop tank covers, lids, and other accessories into the tank so they can get cleaned in the vinegar solution.

After a few minutes, dump the vinegar into the sink and rinse the tank well with warm water.

6. Wipe the Unit With a Cloth

Using a damp cloth, wipe the whole unit. Make sure to get into tight corners, crevices, and little gaps to remove all dirt and debris. Wipe the base down while the vinegar is soaking.

7. Scrub the Base

After 30 minutes of vinegar soaking, scrub the unit with a scrubbing brush. An old toothbrush will remove loosened debris and descale the unit. Continue until the tray is clean.

Dump the vinegar out and wipe the tray with a clean damp cloth. You don’t want vinegar residue in the unit — nobody wants to inhale that! Plus, it has a strong smell.

8. Dry

Use dry cloths or paper towels to give the unit a once-over, removing excess water. Reassemble the unit.

How to Clean a Vicks Humidifier With Bleach

Once a month, use the power of bleach to disinfect your Vicks humidifier. If you don’t want to use bleach, hydrogen peroxide is a more eco-friendly and non-toxic alternative.

Whether you’re cleaning the Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier, the 3-in-1 SleepyTime Humidifier, or a different model, disinfect it monthly.

  • Time: 45 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Intermediate.

What You’ll Need

  • Bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Water.
  • Sink.
  • Cloths.
  • Gloves.
  • Mask.
  • Towel or drying rack.

1. Prepare the Unit

Place the unit on a flat surface. Turn it off and unplug it. After rinsing the tank with warm water, you can move on to the next step.

2. Fill the Tank With Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide

Pour one teaspoon of bleach or hydrogen peroxide into the tank. Add one gallon of warm water. Let this solution soak for 20 minutes, occasionally swishing the tank around to distribute the solution.

3. Fill the Base With Solution

Pour about ¼ gallon of water into the base with ¼ teaspoon of bleach. Leave this to soak for 20 minutes, too.

You can also place the nozzles and lid in the base water to soak.

3. Empty the Tank

After 20 minutes, empty the water tank and base. If your unit has a pickup tube, remove that first so that the bleach doesn’t travel to other parts of the humidifier.

Pour the solution into a sink or a safe disposal area.

Safety Tip

Bleach is corrosive and can harm your skin. It’s a good idea to wear protective gloves and a face mask. If you don’t have one, keep the area well-ventilated so you aren’t breathing in bleach fumes.

4. Rinse the Unit

Rinse the water tank with warm water for a few minutes until the bleach smell is completely gone. Clean the pickup tube as well in case it has bleach lingering on it.

Use a damp cloth to rinse the unit base, too. Keep wiping until all traces of bleach are gone.

5. Air Dry the Unit

Because you’ve just disinfected the unit, we want to let it fully air dry. This ensures mold has no chance to grow. Leave it on a towel or drying rack for a day or two.

How to Clean a Humidifier Filter

If your Vicks humidifier has a reusable filter, you must clean it regularly. Some units have a disposable filter which you will need to replace often.

  • Time: One hour.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

1. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

In a small container, combine a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water.

2. Soak the Filter

Place the filter into the solution so it’s fully submerged. Let it soak for 45 minutes. The vinegar will break down dirt, debris, and mineral deposits.

3. Scrub and Rinse

Remove the filter from the solution and scrub it well with a brush or old toothbrush. Remove loosened particles. Rinse the filter well with warm water.

4. Dry the Filter

Leave the filter to dry on a towel or a drying rack. Once it’s 100 percent dry, you can return it to the unit.

Humidifier Maintenance Tips

It’s crucial you don’t sidestep cleaning with the Vicks humidifier. Daily, weekly and monthly cleaning is the best way to keep your humidifier hygienic and fresh. But if you want a few extra maintenance tips for caring for the unit and keeping it clean, we have some:

  • Clean the filter weekly: Clean the filter with vinegar once a week to keep it hygienic.
  • Tackle mold: Cleaning the unit daily and deep cleaning every week will help you stay on top of mold issues. But if you do notice mold, use the bleach cleaning hack. You can use a soft-bristled brush in combination with bleach to loosen and remove mold particles.
  • Use the right water: If you live in a hard water area, we recommend using distilled or purified water. This will minimize scale buildup within the unit. If you live somewhere with softer water, you can use water straight from the tap.
  • Use demineralization cartridges: Vicks recommends demineralization cartridges if you have issues with mineral buildup. These cartridges prevent scale buildup within the tank, making your cleaning routine easier.
  • Avoid essential oils: While they give off a pleasant aroma, avoid using them in your Vicks humidifier. The oils can destroy the tank and internal unit. Vicks offers VapoPads instead. We recommend getting an oil diffuser if you want to use essential oils.
  • Don’t use anything other than vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide: Vicks doesn’t recommend any other cleaners, including baking soda. So stay away from anything other than the three we have mentioned.
  • Avoid slime buildup: Water tanks can get slimy, especially if you haven’t kept up with your daily and weekly cleaning. A humidifier cleaning ball, such as the Protec Cleaning Cartridge, can be placed in the tank with water. These will tackle slime buildup while preventing mold and bacteria growth.
  • Change the filter often: Vicks recommends changing the filter every one to three months. Even if your filter is washable, you might want to replace it often so that your unit emits the freshest vapor possible.
  • No steam-cleaning: You might think you can use your steam cleaner for everything, but avoid using it on your humidifier. It might disinfect, but the high temperatures could ruin the unit.


How Do You Clean Mold Out of a Vicks Humidifier?

Using bleach to disinfect your unit every month will remove mold. Use an old or unused toothbrush to scrub the mold and remove it from the unit.

Can You Get Sick From Moldy Humidifiers?

If your humidifier is moldy, this can trigger asthma and allergies (1). A moldy humidifier can worsen the symptoms if you already suffer from allergies or asthma.

But even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, a moldy humidifier can give you unpleasant symptoms, too. This includes flu-like illnesses or lung infections.

Do I Need to Clean My Humidifier if I Use Distilled Water?

Yes — no matter what type of water you use, you must clean your humidifier daily, weekly, and monthly. Distilled water can minimize mineral deposit buildup but doesn’t stop the buildup of bacteria, dirt, or mold.

You should also note that these tips are suitable for all Vicks humidifiers. Whether you’re wondering how to clean a Vicks Warm Mist humidifier, a mini humidifier, or another model, follow these instructions.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!