How to clean a portable humidifier filter with soap and water? Easy Steps

More than twenty states in America receive less than 20 inches of rain and snow annually. These states become extremely dry during the summer months and the humidity levels fall below 20% in the air. The mountain states of Wyoming and Montana (MT) are dry throughout the year. Nevada (NV) receives the least rainfall amongst all the 51 states. It is just 9.5 inches on an average.

If you live in any of the states which are very dry, then having a humidifier will be beneficial for you. There are a lot of benefits of using a humidifier. It is important though that you keep the filter of your humidifier clean. There are 2 types of humidifiers. Central humidifiers and room humidifiers. They require a different approach.

How to clean the central humidifier filter?

It is very important for anyone using humidifiers at their home to change the humidifier filter once in three months. Sometimes you just need to get a new one and can’t clean it. Check the instructions of your system by Googling the name of the humidifier you have. Cleaning the humidifier filter is extremely important so that clean air is available for the family members to inhale. If there are microorganisms or mold growth in the filter, the air might become toxic and cause many diseases.

It is quite simple to clean the humidifier filter by using these simple steps:

  1. Remove the humidifier filter by pulling it from the top. Slide off the plastic insert and remove the filter carefully.
  2. Soak the humidifier filter in CLR until all the calcium comes off. Since CLR is the toughest cleaner for removing the lime deposits, it should take about ten minutes.
  3. Give it a good rinse. Pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper napkin and allow it to dry.
  4. Now the filter is ready to be reinstalled.

You will also get to know about the settings and the settings which are best for the weather condition in your area. Plumbers or AC repair techs can often help you with optimizing your system.

Cleaning the filter of a portable room humidifiers

If you are using a room (or portable) humidifier, cleaning the filter there too will be extremely important. There are several types of room humidifiers so searching for the brand on Youtube can help you to find the correct approach for your device. If you do not clean the water tank and the filter on a regular basis, there can be calcium deposits on them if you have hard water.

The filter will not function properly if that happens. There will be mold formation and you will be inhaling air filled with mold and mildew. Hence, it is extremely important to clean the humidifier filter and device on a regular basis. You will need to replace the filter once in three months too.

Follow these simple steps to clean the filter-

1.    Read the user manual before you start the process of cleaning the filter for the first time. Remove the plug from the power socket to ensure there are no short circuits and accidents caused due to that. Choose your kitchen countertop as you will have access to the kitchen sink.

2.    Remove the top compartment and empty the water tank. Rinse it properly with soap water and keep it aside and allow it to dry naturally. You may rinse it using a solution of bleach and water. That will disinfect the entire unit and will ensure that none of the microorganisms get a chance to grow.

3.    Take a soft-bristled brush and slowly remove the dirt and small particles stuck to the filter. Use fresh water to clean the filter thoroughly and rotate the entire filter to ensure you did not leave any part.

4.    Use an absorbent paper towel and let it soak the excess water. Allow the filter to dry for about 2 hours in the open. Keep it near a window so that it gets some sunlight too. Sunlight is considered a natural disinfectant.

5.    Reassemble the unit and reinstall the filter. Since the old water was thrown out, it will ensure that it will hinder the growth of mold and other microorganisms.

6.    In case the filter looks very dirty, soak it in vinegar water in a bucket for at least one hour. Add one part of synthetic vinegar to two parts of warm water. Since vinegar is naturally acidic, it will kill all the mold and bacteria. Do not use harsh chemical cleaning agents for cleaning humidifier filters. They might damage the synthetic parts of the filter.

7.    Wash it thoroughly under running water after soaking the filter for one hour in the vinegar solution. Smell it to ensure that every speck of vinegar is gone.

8.    Do not squeeze the wet filter and let it dry the normal way as mentioned in point 4.

9.    If your filter is heavily infected with mildew and molds, then you will need to treat it with bleach. Take about two gallons of cold water in a bucket and add two teaspoons of bleach.

10. Wear a pair of gloves and protect your eyes from the fumes of bleach. Wear full-sleeved clothes and ensure that the solution does not touch your skin. Work in a well-ventilated area so that you don’t inhale the bleach fumes.

11. Allow the filter to soak for about ten minutes and then rinse it thoroughly with warm water to ensure not even a speck of bleach is available on it. Bleach is bad for health and if any remains stay on the filter, it might cause skin irritation or burning of the eyes later. After the filter is installed inside the humidifier, it will release air containing specks of bleach.

12. Allow the filter to dry exactly the same way we had done in point 4 and you are all set. This would have removed any old mildew and stubborn calcium deposit on the filter.


Cleaning a humidifier regularly is important. We have to distinguish between a central system and smaller room-based systems. If the filter or water tank is not clean, dirty elements can be spread all over your house. This can lead to broken devices or stains.

For this reason, it is essential that you clean your filters regularly. Sometimes they can’t be cleaned and must be replaced. Each device has unique requirements so checking the manual is a great idea. Make sure to wear gloves and other protection when you do this.