A humidifier such as a cool mist humidifier or a warm mist humidifier can go a long way when it comes to helping you deal with breathing problems, including the common cold, flu, or problems with your sinuses. In general, running a humidifier can help you feel more comfortable and sleep better, especially in the winter when the air gets drier. One of the best humidifiers on the market is made by the Vicks brand and offers a cool mist that helps relieve congestion and cough.
Vicks humidifiers feature a special filter that is designed to remove dust, danger, pollen, smoke, and odors from the air. This ensures the air is not only cool and comfortable to breathe, it’s also free of irritants that can make your breathing problems worse.
Despite all of the benefits of using a humidifier with a filter, there is a downside—you need to replace the filter to ensure it operates properly. Over time, the filter gets dirty and will need to be changed. You’ll also need to clean the unit to remove hard water scaling and ensure contaminants do not clog the humidifier. If not properly cleaned, a humidifier can actually present a health risk because it is feeding contaminated air back into your breathing environment.
Cleaning your Vicks humidifier ensures it will run properly, last a long time, and provide you with the relief you need when dealing with colds, sinus problems, and dry air in general.
Daily Cleaning and Maintenance
Start with understanding how important it is to clean the humidifier on a daily basis (if you’re using it on a daily basis). After a cycle of running the humidifier—which for most people will be overnight or during a nap for children—you’ll want to turn off the humidifier and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Move the entire humidifier to a table or counter where it’s on a stable surface with room to work.
Next, remove the water tank and the water tray. Be careful not to damage the filter while you work. If you have a model without a water tank, you’ll be taking off the top housing section and laying it upside down on the counter. Don’t rest anything on the water tube because you could cause it to crack.
Take the cap off the water tank and empty any remaining water inside. Flush the container under a faucet with warm water. If you have a model without the water tank, empty the water remaining in the base, flush it out with warm water, and wipe it down with a paper towel.
Using a dry cloth or slightly damp cloth if there is any caked on dirt, wipe the entire unit down and dry. Avoid getting the dials and vents, and any of the electric or mechanical attachments wet, and never submerge the entire unit under water.
Once clean, you can refill your humidifier with fresh water as needed.
Daily cleaning should only take a few minutes but will make a big difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of your Vicks humidifier.
In addition to cleaning and maintaining the unit on a daily basis, you’ll also need to invest some time in weekly cleaning. This is a bit more thorough a cleaning, but it still only takes a few minutes.
Begin by removing the water tank and flushing it with warm water, as you do in your daily cleaning of the unit. Put it aside for the time being.
With the tank removed and the humidifier running, let air flow through the filter until it’s completely dry. Once dry, turn off the unit and unplug it from the wall. If your humidifier does not have a removable tank, turn off the humidifier and remove it from the wall without the air flow step.
Once unplugged, remove the top housing section, dump out the leftover water, and wipe it down until it is mostly dry.
Next, you’ll need to remove the filter from the water tray. Pull straight up to avoid tearing (filters are fairly sturdy, but still delicate and should be handled with care). Unless you have a Vicks V400, you’ll be able to clean the filter, but this model requires no filter cleaning—just replacement of the filter a needed.
Now, pull the water tray out from the base and add a cup or two of white vinegar. Allow it soak for about 30 minutes to loosen the scaling deposits from water. If the model you have doesn’t allow you to remove the filter, wipe it down with a sponge soaked in white vinegar instead.
Next, detach the water pickup tube and clean the unit. Turn the top housing section upside down, rotate the tube toward the arrow, drop the tube into a bowl of vinegar, and allow it to soak the same as the tray. While you’re waiting for the soaking to finish, you can wipe down the interior of the housing section with a vinegar-soaked sponge.
After soaking is complete, rinse the vinegar from the components under warm running water. Make sure you allow water to run through the tube as well as on it.
Finally, in the cleaning process, you’ll want to wipe down the exterior of the humidifier from dust and dirt. You can use white vinegar on the outside of the unit. However, in most cases, it isn’t necessary and warm water or warm soapy water will do. Never submerge the entire unit in water.
Disinfecting a Vicks Humidifier
Once the unit has been cleaned, it’s important to disinfect the humidifier, especially if it’s been used in a room with someone who has a head cold or the flu.
Fill the water reservoirs with a mix of bleach and water (1 teaspoon: 1 gallon dilution). If possible, detach the water pickup tube and soak that in the bleach mixture as well. Throughout the 20-minute soak, stir the water to ensure the bleach hasn’t settled and it’s penetrating all parts of the reservoirs.
Once the bleach soak is complete, rinse the components with warm running water until the bleach smell is gone or as faint as possible. Once the unit is rinsed, dry it with a clean paper towel or soft cloth and reassemble the unit.
How Often Should I Change the Filter?
Unless you have a model of a Vicks humidifier that doesn’t require cleaning, you’ll usually be able to clean your filter instead of replacing it, but you’ll still eventually need to replace it when it wears out. The recommended lifespan of a filter that is cleaned on a weekly basis is one to three months, depending on how often the unit is used and the water quality in your home. Keep in mind that cleaning your filter does not mean washing it, which will clog or damage the filter. Instead, you’ll be allowing air to run through the filter and allowing it to dry out completely between uses.
Some of the models available of the Vicks humidifiers also feature scent pads, so you’ll want to periodically replace those as well.
It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to replacing parts and cleaning the units. Finally, no matter which model you have or how often you use it, never submerge it completely under running water or into a tub of water. Aside from individual components, you should be wiping down the unit to avoid damage to the electronic parts.