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How to Clean the Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier (With Pictures)

Are you looking for the easiest and most effective way to clean your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier?

Daily cleaning and weekly disinfecting are necessary to keep the parts running smoothly and the mist clean.

In this guide, I walk you through the step-by-step instructions for cleaning your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier.

I break the instructions into three categories: daily cleaning, weekly cleaning, and monthly disinfecting, so you know exactly what to do and when to do it. 

If you’re a visual learner, I provide plenty of photos of the process and video instructions showing how to clean each Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier model.

Let’s get started!


Use the links below to navigate this guide:


Daily/Routine Cleaning

Cleaning your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier every day will prevent buildup and make your weekly cleaning routine much easier. Daily cleaning may sound like a hassle, but don’t worry, it’s not difficult or time-consuming —  these steps should take less than five minutes.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

First, prepare the area, so you have a safe and secure place to work. Put the humidifier on a water-resistant surface, turn it off, and unplug it. Water and electricity don’t mix.

I recommend clearing space near a sink, so you have easy access to water.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_daily cleaning

Step 2: Empty the Water

Now, empty the water tank and base by dumping the water into the sink.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_daily cleaning_empty water

Step 3: Rinse the Tank

Fill the tank partially with lukewarm water and swish it around. If you use extremely hot water, it could damage the tank.

Step 4: Wash With a Clean Cloth

Empty the water and use a warm damp cloth. Wipe the outside of the tank to remove excess dirt and residue.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_daily cleaning_wiping water tank

Step 5: Wash the Base

Wipe the base with a warm damp cloth. Never submerge the base in water or put it under running water as it could ruin the electrical unit.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_cleaning the base with a cloth

Weekly Cleaning

The daily routine cleaning should only take a couple of minutes, but once a week, you’ll need to perform a deeper cleaning to avoid bacteria growth.

It’s easy to forget, so set a recurring weekly reminder for a time that’s convenient for you.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Just like with the daily cleaning routine, place the humidifier on a flat surface (ideally near a sink), turn it off, and unplug it.

Step 2: Empty the Water

Empty the water from the tank and the base.

Step 3: Rinse the Tank

Fill the tank with lukewarm water and give it a good shake, swishing the water around.  Use cold or lukewarm water to avoid damaging the tank.

Step 5: Prepare for Base Cleaning

Prepare to clean the base. Set the tank aside during this step.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_preparing the base

Step 6: Run the Machine

With the tank set aside, plug the base in, turn the humidifier on, and let it run for 15 minutes. This allows air to flow through the system and dry out all the components. This is a step that Vicks doesn’t mention in any of its official instructions, but it helps clear the system of any lingering moisture.

If you turn the humidifier on and nothing happens (no sounds or mist), that means your model has an automatic shutoff and won’t run without the tank on top and water flowing through the base. In that case, skip this step.

Step 7: Remove the Filter

Once the filter is completely dry, you can remove it from the base. Set it aside as it’s not needed for the next steps. If you have a filter-free Vicks Cool Mist humidifier, skip this step.

Step 8: Create Cleaning Solution

To clean the humidifier, use a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. You don’t need a lot of the solution; two or three cups will do.

Vinegar is an excellent option for cleaning Vicks Cool Mist humidifiers because it’s non-toxic, eco-friendly, and highly acidic, meaning it can break down mineral deposits, dirt, and grime.

Step 9: Clean the Tank

Soak a cloth in the vinegar-water solution. Wipe the inside and outside of the tank thoroughly.

Alternatively, you can pour the solution into the water tank and gently swish it around for a few minutes before pouring it out. Put the mist nozzle in the tank with the vinegar to clean that too. If you choose this method, don’t forget to wipe the exterior of the tank.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_swishing vinegar inside the water tank

Step 10: Clean the Base

Use the same cloth and water-vinegar solution to wipe the base. Use a spare toothbrush to scrub areas that are difficult to reach with the cloth.

Cleaning a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier_cleaning the base with a toothbrush

The base can get especially grimy since it traps moisture, and the water tank above prevents light and airflow from drying it out. The top of the base is always wet, which makes for a great home to bacteria and mold.

If you notice some pinkish residue on the base, it is likely pink mold. Pink mold thrives in dark, wet areas (like the base and underside of the water tank).

Pink mold inside a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier

Luckily, it’s not a major concern, and you can quickly remedy the situation. Wipe the mold with a cloth soaked in the water-vinegar solution.

Step 11: Rinse With Water

Rinse a cloth under warm, clean water, and wipe the tank and base to remove any vinegar residue. Now your humidifier is clean and ready to use.

Monthly Disinfecting

Disinfecting your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier every month is necessary to kill bacteria and other germs that may be lingering, despite your daily and weekly cleanings.

Again, steps one through four are the same as the other routines (I’ve consolidated those steps into “Step 1” below).

Step 1: Rinse the Tank and Base

Before you start the disinfection process, empty the water from the tank and base. Then, rinse the tank with lukewarm water and wipe the base with a damp cloth.

Step 2: Add Bleach

For disinfecting, Vicks recommends using bleach. Of course, bleach is a chemical substance, so make sure to work in a well-ventilated area, wear protective gloves and eyewear, and keep children and pets away.

Disinfecting a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier with bleach

Place one teaspoon of bleach into a gallon of water and pour the solution into the tank. Put the mist nozzle in the tank so you can disinfect that in the process.

Step 3: Swish the Solution

After securing the water tank cap, swish the bleach-water solution around for a minute or two, making sure to wet the entire inside.

Step 4: Let It Soak

Place the water tank back on the base, so the solution drains into the base and reservoir. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Empty the Bleach

Carefully empty the bleach solution from the tank and base into a drain. Don’t let it come into contact with other objects, surfaces, your skin, or clothes.

Step 5: Rinse the Tank and Base

Rinse the tank thoroughly and wipe the base with a damp cloth until the smell of bleach is gone. Remember to use lukewarm water as hot water can damage the tank.

Step 6: Dry the Tank and Base

Wipe dry the tank and base with a clean towel. Now your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier is disinfected and ready to be used again.

How to Clean Vicks Cool Mist Humidifiers: Video Instructions

If you’re a visual learner, Vicks provides helpful videos detailing how to clean each specific Cool Mist humidifier.

Below are links the videos.

Vicks Cool Mist HumidifierModel NumberVideo Instructions
Vicks CoolRelief Cool Mist Humidifier VUL600VUL600Watch
Vicks Filtered Cool Moisture Humidifier VEV400VEV400Watch
Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier V3700V3700Watch
Vicks EasyFill Cool Mist Humidifier VUL570VUL570Watch
Vicks Filtered Cool Moisture Humidifier VEV320VEV320Watch
Vicks Warm Moisture Humidifier V750V750Watch
Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier VUL575VUL575Watch
Vicks v4600V4600Watch
(photo credit: VicksHumidifiers.com)

FAQs About Cleaning Vicks Cool Mist Humidifiers

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cleaning Vicks Cool Mist Humidifiers.

How do I clean a Vicks Cool Mist humidifier filter?

Not every model has a filter, but you will need to clean it weekly if yours does.

To clean the filter, remove it and soak it in a 1:1 vinegar-water solution for 20 minutes. Rinse well. Let it dry before returning it to the machine.

How do you get mold out of a Vicks humidifier?

Cleaning daily and weekly will help to prevent mold. The monthly disinfecting will eliminate any residue, thanks to the bleach. As an extra step, scrub any buildup with a soft-bristled brush while it’s soaking in the bleach solution.

How often should I clean my Vicks humidifier?

Perform routine cleaning every day or every other day, depending on how much you use it. Do the weekly clean once a week. Disinfect the humidifier once per month.

What is the black stuff in my Vicks humidifier?

It could be mineral buildup, mold, dirt, or something else. Take caution when you find black specks or any other abnormal things in the water tank or base of your humidifier. Don’t ignore it; disinfect the humidifier immediately.

Do I have to use distilled water in the humidifier?

In most cases, using tap water in your Vicks Cool Mist humidifier is completely fine. But if you live in a region with hard water, I recommend using distilled or purified water to avoid scale buildup.

Can I use demineralization tablets in the humidifier?

Vicks recommends using demineralization cartridges rather than tablets. The cartridges capture minerals before they are released into the air and prevent buildup in the tank.

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

Vicks warns you to never put essential oils in the water tank. They can damage the humidifier and void the warranty. The oils can break down the tank’s plastic and destroy other internal parts. Instead, there’s a compartment built into each humidifier for Vicks VapoPads. These pads provide hours of soothing vapors.

Can I use household cleaners to clean the humidifier?

Vicks recommends using vinegar or bleach. Don’t stray from that unless the specific user manual recommends it.

How do I prevent slime buildup inside the water tank?

If you notice the inside of the water tank feels slimy, purchase a Humidifier Cleaning Ball and place it in the tank along with the water. These cleaning balls contain no toxic chemicals and are highly effective at preventing mold, bacteria, and slimy buildup inside the humidifier’s water tank.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier daily and weekly helps it last longer and keeps the mist — and the air you breathe — clean.

Daily cleaning is simple and only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is give the tank a good rinse and wipe.

Weekly cleaning is also simple but involves wiping the parts down with water and vinegar.

Monthly disinfecting will ensure the machine is completely clean and free of mold and bacteria. The entire process takes about thirty minutes, but most of that time is to allow the solution to soak the inside of the water tank and reservoir.

Bottom line — cleaning the Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier is easy and can be done with household staples like white vinegar, bleach, and water.

Follow the steps in this guide, and you’ll be enjoying fresh and clean air for years. If you’re not sure about how to clean your specific Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier, refer to the chart where I link to the cleaning instructions for each model.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for over a decade and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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