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When to Clean or Replace Your Humidifier or Air Filter

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Adding a humidifier or air purifier to your home can help keep you and your family comfortable and breathing easy, but like anything else, these machines need some attention to work their best. To know whether it's time to scrub it clean or start fresh with a new filter, follow these tips.

Scrubbing the Tank 
Since humidifiers contain a reservoir of water, this can allow the growth of bacteria if they're not cared for properly. This shouldn't be a concern under normal usage if the tank is emptied daily, but it might be a problem if you leave the humidifier full before going away for a long weekend. Before performing any maintenance on a humidifier, be sure to turn it off, unplug it and separate the base from the tank. Every day, water in the reservoir should be dumped out and the tank should be flushed with cold water and wiped dry before more water is added.

In addition to being emptied daily, humidifiers should be cleaned every week or two for best operation. If you smell any unusual odors coming from the device, it should be cleaned immediately. To remove mineral buildup, it's best to soak it in vinegar for up to 20 minutes first.

A Clean Filter Means Clean Air 
Air purifiers do the dirty work of removing pollutants from your home, so it's important to make sure you're cleaning them properly. Like humidifiers, purifiers must be turned off and unplugged before they're cleaned. Also, carbon and HEPA filters should never be cleaned. Carbon filters should be replaced every three to six months, while HEPA filters need to be changed every 12 to 18 months.

To start, wipe down the outside of the device with a damp cloth, and use a small brush to rid the air vent of any dust that has piled up. The outside of the air purifier can be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth. Cleaning the inside of the device is unnecessary, but if you must, be sure to remove filters and only use a dry, soft cloth to wipe it down.

Pre-filters are in need of the most frequent cleaning. They should be gently washed by hand at least once every 30 days, or sooner if they have noticeable dust or dirt built up. These filters should be replaced when they're worn or damaged. The permanent filter, on the other hand, should never need replacement. It should be cleaned every three months at least, but it's best to check its condition every few weeks, especially in environments with lots of irritants in the air. Cleaning is as simple as using your vacuum cleaner's brush attachment on both sides of the filter - water or cleaning liquids should never be used.