Why Does My Humidifier Smell?

While a humidifier can be a great way to increase your home’s humidity, sometimes it can smell. Why is that?

Your humidifier smells bad because the water is stagnant and has begun growing mold and mildew, the filter is old or you’re using the wrong type of water which leads to mineral deposits that cause a bad smell.

Below you’ll find how to clean out your humidifier and how to prevent any humidifier smell in the future.

Let’s get started.

Why Does Your Humidifier Smell?

Your humidifier smells because of the stagnant water or because mold and mildew inside of the water tank.

While this may be alarming, it is important to take action to remove any smell that’s coming from your humidifier.

If you have a whole house humidifier or portable version that hasn’t been used for a while, the stagnant water within can start to become a breeding group for mold, mildew, and bacteria growth.

Using the wrong type of water can also lead to mineral deposits that can result in a humidifier smell.

Tap water can have high mineral content like sulfur and sodium which can not only collect in your humidifier’s tank, but are released into the air.

Those minerals will also end up around your home as the water dries leaving behind what’s known as “white dust“.

How to Get Rid of the Smell in Your Dehumidifier

Use distilled water

It’s vital that you only use distilled water in your humidifier, otherwise, you may have to deal with not only a bad humidifier smell, but mold, mildew, and mineral deposits.

While distilled water can be expensive to use over tap water, it’s the only way to ensure your humidifier is safe outside of distilling your own water.

Clean your humidifier often

If you haven’t cleaned your humidifier properly in months or even years, it’s no wonder that your humidifier smells bad!

You can clean it out with white vinegar or a solution of hydrogen peroxide to get rid of any musty smell.

Be sure to only use these products to clean out your humidifier, do NOT leave them inside your humidifier’s tank.

You don’t want to turn these chemicals into water vapor and breathe it in, as it can be hazardous for your health.

If you have problematic mold and bacteria in hard to reach areas, you can use a toothbrush for a deep clean.

Avoid washing the wick filter as you may damage the humidifier itself.

Wash your humidifier until the lingering smell is gone and you no longer smell any cleaning agent.

Change your humidifier’s filter

If you have a whole house humidifier, you’ll need to change the humidifier filter otherwise you won’t be able to get rid of any mold and bacteria that may be growing.

You should replace your filter once every three months to a year depending on manufacturer recommendations and usage of your humidifier.

How to Prevent Humidifier Smells in the Future

Give it regular cleanings

No matter if you have a warm mist humidifier or cool mist humidifier, you must keep up with regular cleanings.

Even distilled water that’s left alone can bring on odor-causing bacteria and go bad leading to an unpleasant smell.

Make sure you give it a thorough cleaning often to keep your humidifier smelling good.

You can use baking soda, bleach, vinegar (make sure not to mix vinegar with bleach), lemon juice, and even a hydrogen peroxide solution for deep cleaning.

Ensure that you wash these cleaning agents out of your humidifier or you could end up making the entire household sick.

Let your humidifier air dry before using it again after cleaning.

Use the right type of water

Not using the right type of water in your humidifier’s tank is a one-way ticket to a musty odor, mold growth and even potentially harming your air quality.

While distilled water can be expensive to use, it will keep your humidifier smelling amazing and most importantly safe.

Empty the water tank out

If you aren’t using your humidifier regularly, empty the water tank.

You’ll avoid any stagnant water and prevent any mold and fungus from growing.

If you aren’t going to use your humidifier for a few months, it’s a good time to give it a deep clean before putting it away in storage.

Consider using a humidifier that uses essential oils

Some, not all, humidifiers can use essential oils along with their mist production.

Do not put essential oils into your humidifier’s water tank as you may damage it and the wick filter.

Replace the filter often

Replacing the humidifier filter will take care of any odor causing substances, or mineral residue and will aid in removing any foul odor.

You should replace your humidifier filter at least once every three months.

Final Thoughts

Your humidifier smells because of stagnant water, mold, mildew, and bacteria growth or from mineral build-up.

If the smell persists, then give it a deep cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, or even bleach.

Make sure that you wash out these cleaning agents thoroughly before using your humidifier again.

Always make sure you use the right water for a humidifier, otherwise, you may have to deal with an unpleasant smell.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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