The best way to avoid those dry, uncomfortable winters is to have a high quality humidifier in your home adding much needed moisture to your indoor air. This can help lessen the severity of cold and allergy symptoms and even reduce the risk of asthma attacks. But if you notice a strange or musky smell coming from your humidifier when you turn it on, you probably won’t want to use it as often.
Fortunately, a problem like this is relatively easy to fix. That’s because it’s probably caused by stagnant water or a buildup of mold or mildew inside the humidifier itself. This isn’t a particularly pleasant thought, of course, but it does mean that the smell is pretty easy to get rid of. All it takes is thorough cleaning with the right materials.
Before you clean out your humidifier, always make sure it’s unplugged. The first thing to do is to remove the filter and change it. In some cases, that will take care of the entire problem and you won’t have to invest any more time in this project.
If your humidifier doesn’t have a filter or if the smell persists even after the filter has been changed, a deeper cleaning is probably in order. Begin by getting rid of the water in the reservoir and washing it out thoroughly. Next, scrub out all the interior areas of the humidifier you can reach with bleach and water. Make sure you get the evaporator belt while you are in there – it’s a particularly tricky component that can contribute to the musky smell. Be sure to rinse out the bleach thoroughly afterwards or it will be introduced into your indoor air when you turn humidifier back on.
Once that’s done, reassemble the unit and run it as normal with a fresh supply of water. That should solve the problem, but to keep it from happening again, there are some simple preventative steps you can take. First of all, don’t leave water standing in the reservoir for any length of time.
Whenever you’re not using your humidifier, dump out excess water and dry the interior thoroughly to prevent the growth of mold or mildew. You can also add vinegar or baking soda to the water in your humidifier to help keep any unwanted smells from coming back. Ideally, this will never again be an issue for you. If it is, and you have kept your humidifier clean, you may need to have it more thoroughly cleaned or inspected.