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Question About Using Vinegar in a Humidifier

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

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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