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How to Clean Your Humidifier (Since You're Definitely Not Doing It Often Enough)

MORE: The Best Humidifiers To Soothe Your Skin Dry And Sinuses

"It's important to know that you've gotten away from using an unclean humidifier," says Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and author of Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster, and Loving Your Home Every Day . While it's not the best thing to skip cleanings, it does not cause you any serious bodily harm, Maker reassures me. That does not change the fact that humidifiers are moist contained areas, making them a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, Maker says. While it is possible to cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and asthma attacks

Bleach and water

Many humidifier manufacturers recommend cleaning their devices with a solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Fill the humidifier tank and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes; then use a soft brush to scrub away mineral deposits. Finally, rinse until the smell is gone.

Therapeutic-grade tea tree oil

After unplugging and dismantling your moisturizer (step-by-step instructions), mix 10 drops of therapeutic-grade tea tree with Maker suggests. Then use the mixture and a brush or sponge to scrub the water tank and the base of the machine. (Quick tip: It's best to use cleaning solutions on humidifier filters.) Rinse the pieces of the unit with the water before putting them back together and refilling it with fresh water.

Concrobium

Maker is also a fan of cleaning humidifiers with Concrobium, an odorless, mildew- and mold-killing alternative bleach. After unplugging and dismantling your machine, follow Concrete's instructions for using the product. After the base and tank are clean, rinse each piece with plain water. Then, reassemble the machine and refill the tank with fresh water.

Protec Humidifier Cleaning Fish

Just cleaned your humidifier or a brand new one? Stop mold and mildew by Protec Humidifier Cleaning Fish ($ 4.97, amazon.com) into the tank. The fish is made with Aquastat, a patented antimicrobial that prevents mold and mildew growth for an entire month. Every 30 days you take the fish and replace it with a new one. Think this sounds too good to be true? It's not-reviewers love the product, and say it prevents stinky-smelling water and slime, and also helps to extend the life of the filter.

Vinegar

After unplugging and dismantling your humidifier, fill a spray bottle with one part vinegar to one part warm water. Spray the solution on the base and inside the tank and allow it to sit for a few minutes before using a brush or sponge to scrub away dirt and buildup. After the base and tank are clean, rinse them both with water, reassemble the humidifier, and then refill the tank with fresh water.

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