Adding Vinegar to Your Humidifier

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Adding a bit of vinegar to your home humidifier can help freshen the air. This is a page about adding vinegar to your humidifier.


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January 29, 2005

A little vinegar in your humidifier will help freshen the air in your home.

By Robin

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December 29, 2010

Has anyone heard of undiluted distilled white vinegar? I have a humidifier that calls for cleaning with this. All I can find in the store is the diluted to 5% acidity distilled white vinegar. I really need to get my humidifier up and going.


Quick Answer

They are referring to using bottled white vinegar that you can buy at grocery store at full strength. All vinegar that is sold in stores is about 5% acidity. It should work to descale your humidifier.

By Susan Sanders-Kinzel

Pickling Vinegar

Not sure what the instructions mean by "undiluted" other than "do not add water". You should be able to find 9% pickling vinegar in your supermarket. Some plant nurseries carry 20% vinegar that is used to make pest control mixtures for organic gardeners. Any strength greater than that would be dangerous to use and even 9% should not be accessible to children.

By Beth

Don't Add Water

The manufacturer just means that you need to use the vinegar straight from the bottle. There couldn't be anything that would hold 100% undiluted vinegar - it's high acidity would eat through anything!

Cleaning an Electric Humidifier

Electric humidifiers work by running a set of electrodes encased inside a plastic safety shield. The electricity passes through the water, heating it and creating steam. With time, the electrodes lime up with thick crusty deposits and become less and less effective at producing steam.

The maximum possible concentration of laboratory Acetic Acid (vinegar) is 37%. That's as pure as it gets. However, in that concentration, you wouldn't want to work with it around the house. You would need a chemical lab background and safety equipment to work with this stuff.


Ordinary household vinegar, the kind you buy at the supermarket, will dissolve any calcium and lime deposits in a humidifier if allowed to soak for 24 hours to do its work. Add about 1 cup of household vinegar to the humidifier, then fill with hot water. Use in a well ventilated area because you're going to be producing some stinky gases.

Rinse the humidifier after use, and inspect for loose chunks of lime deposits that may have come loose but not dissolved. (Hope I don't have to mention to be sure to unplug the humidifier while all this is going on.)

By NurseBob

Weekly Descaling

I use white vinegar to descale my humidifier once a week. I put the filters in a tub and let them soak for about 20-30 minutes then rinse them. Then I wipe down the other parts with vinegar. When it is time to put the unit away I put vinegar in the bottles (undiluted) letting it set for a short time before rinsing them out. This is a routine I have done for the 4 years I have lived in this older house.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

December 29, 2010

Will white vinegar neutralize the smell coming into the humidifier?

By allen from Rochester, NY


December 29, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

White distilled vinegar is excellent for removing odors and safe for cleaning humidifiers. Use full strength.

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December 29, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

You must make sure to clean the humidifier as bacteria can build on things as well as mold. Vinegar is a good water conditioner for this too.

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December 14, 2013

I want to know if I can put vinegar in the water in my humidifier. Would it be harmful to breath it in? How about for the kids? We have a pink bacteria (probably Serratia marcesans) that shows up very quickly in the humidifier tank. I clean it once a week.


By Don H.


January 30, 20180 found this helpful

Clean your spigot really well and around & under your sink with bleach, the mold/bacteria is coming from somewhere. Most likely where you are filling, opening, or servicing your machine. It is common for pink mold/bacteria to live on and in the spray nozzle of many sinks as it can easily be overlooked when cleaning and stays moist. Try using distilled water mostly in your humidifiers, because things don't grow in it and distilled water wont scale your humidifiers as it evaporates. Pink mold/bacteria is dangerous by the way, so be careful.

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February 1, 20180 found this helpful

yep distilled water,cost a fortune...

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February 2, 20180 found this helpful

It's only about a dollar a gallon where I live. Doesn't seem like a lot of money to me if it works better.

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February 2, 20180 found this helpful

I would dilute it with water.

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March 29, 20190 found this helpful

Where I live it is the same price around $1.00 for a gallon. The thing is I went to a store to get my first thing of water and it was expensive.


I then went to Walmart and found the right price. You might want to check around if the price is your problem.

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