How to Clean a Vicks Humidifier Guide [Stepwise With Images]

Winter can be a pleasant time with the cold times and festival season. But with it brings the terrible cough and cold as a result of the dry air. Hence to tackle this issue, VICKS has developed cool mist humidifiers that disperse moisture in the dry air to grant you temporary relief from the problem of congestion and cough. It even removes dust, pollen, and other particles from the air.

And these particles accumulate over time inside the device that makes them ineffective and prone to stop working. Cleaning the filter alone won’t work as the entire device needs to be hygienic to work thoroughly. Uncleaned humidifiers are home to contaminants from hard water and other sorts of microorganisms like germs and bacteria.

But you must be wondering where I should start cleaning Vicks humidifiers from? So to make your process, we have prepared for you a step-by-step guide on how to clean vicks humidifier.

How to Clean a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier

For your ease, we have listed three distinct ways of cleaning the humidifier according to the time. You will find differences in the use of materials, but the primary cleaning method remains the same.

Daily/Routine Cleaning

If you use your humidifier on a daily basis, then it is advisable to clean it regularly. It will prevent any sort of build-up, even the smallest ones, which will then make your weekly cleaning easier. Regular cleaning also means that you will avoid the growth of any mold in its early stage itself, meaning it will reduce your efforts in the future.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

how to clean vicks humidifier

Now before starting ṭhe actual cleaning, you need to prepare the area where the cleaning would take place. Be sure that it is safe and secure, and your humidifier won’t be damaged in any way while being cleaned. For convenience purposes, the sink and the area around it would be your best bet as a safe space with easy access to water.

Step 2: Empty the Water

how to clean vicks humidifier

Now you need to take the lid off of the tank and remove any remnants of water it might have by emptying it in the sink.

Step 3: Rinse the Tank

Next, you need to clean the tank thoroughly by pouring lukewarm water inside it. Just swish the body of the humidifier around so that the water reaches all the corners. Make sure that the water isn’t too hot as it can harm the plastic body.

Step 4: Wash With a Clean Cloth

how to clean vicks humidifier

After you have cleaned it with water, drain it out and then use a damp cloth to clean the inside as well as the outer body to remove dust and dirt.

Step 5: Wash the Base

vicks humidifier cleaning

Now for the base of the humidifier, remove it from the tank and use a cloth damped with warm water. Remember never to submerge the base in water or keep it under running water as it has electrical units that would be damaged.

Weekly Cleaning

Now for the weekly cleaning of the humidifier. It is a longer process than the daily cleaning as it involves more steps with more focus on the individual parts. Weekly cleaning is suited for when you use the humidifier just a couple of times in an entire week. Since this cleaning is more thorough, you would be able to reach various niches that aren’t accommodated in the daily cleaning.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Just like your daily cleaning process, you need to prepare a specific area that won’t harm your humidifier. Turn your humidifier off and unplug it.

Step 2: Empty the Water

Next, you need to empty and drain all the water inside the unit and the base.

Step 3: Rinse the Tank

Then, fill your water tank with lukewarm water, remember not to use hot water, and give it a good go-round inside the tank so that it reaches all the corners and parts. Throw the water away after some time.

Step 4: Prepare for Base Cleaning

vicks humidifier cleaning

Now we will clean the base and while doing this you can keep your tank aside.

Step 5: Run the Machine

First, you need to plug the base in and start the machine. Remember that the tank needs to remain detached. Let the machine run for 15 minutes so that air flows through it and evaporates any lingering water droplets.

If you run the machine and nothing happens, no sounds or mist, that would mean that your humidifier has an auto shut off feature and won’t work without a water tank. In that case, you can skip this step.

Step 6: Remove the Filter

Once the filter becomes completely dry after the last step, you need to remove it from the base. Set it aside for the time being as it is not required for the next few steps. If you own a filterless humidifier, then skip this step.

Step 7: Create Cleaning Solution

There is a recommended solution of water and vinegar mixed in the proportion of 1:1 that needs to be used to clean the humidifier. Remember to not add anything else to it as the chemicals might harm the tank. You just need to have two to three cups of this solution, so don’t make a whole lot of it.

Vinegar is very effective in cleaning Vicks humidifiers as it is essentially environmentally friendly without containing any toxic material. It is also highly acidic in nature, implying that it can even cleanse out the hardest of mineral deposits and dirt.

Step 8: Clean the Tank

Next, you would be required to clean the tank. Soak a cloth in the previously prepared solution of vinegar and water and use it to clean the inside as well as the outside of the water tank.

If you do want to engage a cloth then alternatively you can pour the entire solution inside the water tank and just let it swirl around. Once you feel satisfied, drain the solution. Be sure to put the mist nozzle inside the tank as well while using the solution as it’ll clean it at the same time. And if you are using this method do not forget to clean the exterior.

Step 9: Clean the Base

For cleaning the base use the same cloth and solution to clean it. There are some parts that are hard to reach by hand so use a spare toothbrush to clean them. The base is the place, out of all parts of the humidifier, that remains wet throughout the time. It is grimy as well since it traps the moisture inside it and the tank prevents light and air from completely drying it. And it is this moisture that aids in the growth of bacteria and mold.

So if you ever notice the growth of something pinkish, then it is definitely pink mold and you need to clean it asap. Though it might not be very consequential it is best not to take any chances.  

Step 10: Rinse With Water

Now that we are done with cleaning just wash the water tank with fresh water to clear out any remnants of the solution. Use a damp cloth to clean the base and the outside of the unit. Once you do this just reassemble the unit again and your humidifier is good as new!

Monthly Disinfecting

Monthly disinfecting is an excellent way to get rid of any sort of bacteria and germs that might have slipped past you during the daily or weekly cleaning. Since it is more thorough than other methods it will involve the use of other cleaning materials.

Step 1: Rinse the Tank and Base

Initially, before we start the disinfection process, you just need to empty out the tank and then wash it using lukewarm water. Use a damp cloth soaked in this water to clean the base.

Step 2: Add Bleach

For the monthly cleaning, we would be using bleach. Bleach is the chemical recommended by the company for cleaning Vicks humidifiers. It is a chemical that would create fumes that can potentially harm your health. So take all the precautions by working in a well-ventilated area, use gloves, and wear glasses. Since it can be harmful, keep your children and pets away.

For making its solution, put just a teaspoon of bleach in a gallon of water. Once made, pour it inside the water tank along with the mist nozzle so that they can disinfect together.

Step 3: Swish the Solution

Once you have poured the liquid in, just swish it around the tank by revolving the tank for around a minute or two, according to your choice. Be thorough and ensure that it reaches all the parts.

Step 4: Let It Soak

Once you are sure that all the parts have been cleaned by it, place the tank back on the base. The liquid will automatically drain out into the base and the reservoir. Let it be for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Empty the Bleach

After the time span is over, carefully empty the solution from the base and the water tank into the drain. The process is extremely crucial as if you are not careful while doing it, it can burn your skin, objects around your sink, and even the surface.  

Step 5: Rinse the Tank and Base

After getting the bleach out, rinse the entire tank with water thoroughly. This is very important because if you leave the bleach inside for a long time it’ll damage the body of your humidifier. Wipe down the base with a damp cloth. Repeat the process with both tank and base until you can no longer smell the bleach. Remember to use lukewarm water and not hot water.

Step 6: Dry the Tank and Base

As the last step, wipe the tank and base with a dry towel to remove any sort of moisture. Be extra thorough with the base as it has all the electrical units.

FAQs On Cleaning Vicks Cool Mist Humidifiers

How to clean a Vicks Cool Mist humidifier filter?

For cleansing your Vicks filter thoroughly you first need to detach it from the tank and let the airflow through it so that it is completely dry. And then place it in a solution of vinegar and water in a 1:1 proportion. The process should last around 20 minutes. Be sure to rinse it well and let it dry before placing it back.  

How remove mold out of a Vicks humidifier?

One of the easiest and effective ways to prevent mold growth is to clean the humidifier every week. Monthly cleansing using bleach would eliminate any sort of residue left behind during the weekly cleaning. For an extra measure remove even the smallest growth with a soft-bristled brush while cleaning with bleach.

How often should I clean my Vicks humidifier?

It is best to clean the humidifier on a daily basis as it prevents even the smallest of dust particles from being cleaned immediately and does not compromise your health. But it totally depends on the amount of time that you use your humidifier. If you only use it for some time the weekly or even monthly cleaning would suffice.

What is the black stuff in my Vicks humidifier?

If you are seeing some black build-up in your Vicks humidifier then it is probably some mineral residue, mold, dust, or something different. If you do find something like this in your humidifier then be cautious and take preventive measures immediately. Don’t just use water to clean it but use disinfectant to thaw it completely.

Do I have to use distilled water in the humidifier?

Vicks humidifier works completely fine with regular tap water, unlike some other ultrasonic humidifiers that require distilled water. But if you live in a region that has hard water as tap water, then it would be advisable to use distilled water as this type of water can potentially harm your humidifier.

Can I use demineralization tablets in the humidifier?

Instead of using tablets, Vicks asks users to rely on demineralization cartridges. They are far better than tablets and detect and capture minerals even before they are released into the air. Besides this, it also prevents the growth of mold or any other build-up.

Can I use essential oils in a Vicks Cool Mist humidifier?

It is advised and even forewarned by Vicks never to use any sort of essential oils in their humidifiers. They can easily damage the entire device, and since it is something already restricted by the company, they null the warranty of any humidifier damaged due to it. The chemicals present in the essential oil break down the plastic components of the humidifier and completely destroy any other internal part that it reaches.

To compensate for this drawback, they provide a compartment present on the sides of the humidifier. They are compatible with Vicks VapoPads that give out soothing vapors. It also has medicinal benefits.

Can I use household cleaners to clean the humidifier?

It is best not to take chances by using household cleaners. You never know the materials used in making the cleanser and how it might react with the humidifier components. Vicks themselves recommend using bleach and vinegar to clean it, so it is best to stick with it. Don’t use any other cleaning methods unless you find them mentioned in the instruction manual.

How do I prevent slime buildup inside the water tank?

If you ever notice something slimy inside the humidifier, then immediately purchase a Humidifier cleaning ball. Place it inside the water tank with the water present and let it be. They won’t affect the quality of water at all as they have no presence of any sort of toxic material. Instead, they are very effective in preventing any sort of growth like mold, bacteria, and other slimy build-ups.


Cleaning your humidifier on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, according to your requirement, would extend its life by a few years and ensure that the air that you breathe is fresh and clean. It is a very simple process that hardly requires you to take a few minutes out of your schedule but the benefits that it reaps are immeasurable.

Daily cleaning is the easiest that finishes in just a few minutes and gives you clean air and prevents any growth of bacteria and mold. Weekly cleaning on the other hand is very beneficial in cleaning out the places that remain untouched by the daily cleaning. Monthly is the most thorough one and one of the best methods to clean Vicks humidifiers.

Monthly cleaning ensures that even a speck of bacteria isn’t left behind and the use of bleach is especially effective in doing so.

The main takeaway from the article is that maintaining your Vicks humidifier isn’t actually a hard task that would require eons of your time nor effort. You don’t even need to incur any extra expenses on the cleaning material as everything mentioned is easily available right at your home.

Be sure to follow the process that we have listed step by step so that the end results are perfect and worth your time!

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Arohi Verma
Arohi Verma is a content writer and student who loves to write guides for home improvement. With over 4 years of experience in this field, she has enough knowledge to share on home care & improvement.
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