Pink Mold in a Humidifier – What Is It?

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A humidifier is every household’s handy appliance when it comes to increasing the moisture of the indoor air. But taking care of a humidifier is another essential thing to ensure your safety and long life for your humidifier. Now, what if you notice pink mold or residue in a humidifier? What does it mean, and what should you do to get rid of it and prevent it from returning to your humidifier?

Moisture and continuous use of a humidifier can cause pink mold or residue to form in a humidifier. The dampness in a humidifier provides a good breeding ground for any type of mold. To prevent this, you should use your humidifier intermittently, not more than 10 hours a day. And each use time, clean it and leave it to dry completely before the next use.

Now, here is the thing, do you put tap water in your humidifier? Although that is not much of a big issue, local water is mostly hard water that could cause white crusty deposits in your mode.

You can get rid of this residue by using a little vinegar water and Q-tips.  But for pink stuff in your humidifier, this results from an airborne bacteria called Serratia marcescens or mold (fungi).

What is the pink residue in my Humidifier? Is it mold or Bacteria?

There can be any number of things that can grow in your humidifier and appear pink in color. These include bacteria, fungi, and pink mold. But how do you tell which is which between the three?

 Let’s check out the following table about the type and names of possible pink stuff in a humidifier.

Table displaying the type and name of pink mold, bacteria, and Fungi growth in a humidifier

RESIDUE TYPENAME OF RESIDUEWHERE THEY ARE VERY COMMON
BACTERIA 1SERRATIA MARCESCENSGROWS ON SURFACES THAT ARE MAINLY DAMP
BACTERIA 2PSEUDOMONASMAINLY FORMED IN WATER
MOLDAUREOBASIDIUM PULLULANSMOST COMMON AND INFEST A HUMIDIFIER
FUNGIFUSARIUMCOMMONLY FOUND INDOORS AND HUMIDIFIERS

Should I clean a humidifier every day to prevent pink mold from developing?

While it’s hard to go for a while without mold developing in a humidifier, the best trick to avoid any chance of pink mold growing is to wash your humidifier in a dishwasher after each day of use.

Make it your routine; by doing it, you are never giving mold any chance of buildup. One of the most effective detergents to clean your humidifier is dawn detergent soap (at least that cleans well for most people.

If cleaning daily is not possible for you, here is another trick.  You can soak your humidifier in white vinegar water every five days. 

A common reason for recurring pink mold in your humidifier is that, when cleaning your humidifier/reservoir tank, it’s hard to reach into corners or crevices. Find something to help you reach those hard-to-reach parts to solve this problem. Something like a brush (or an artistic brush can do the job).

How to clean and get rid of pink mold from a humidifier

How to clean and get rid of pink mold from a humidifier

When you notice traces of any type of mold in your humidifier, the first thing you want to do is remove it so that it doesn’t pose any health issues. But how do you get rid of mold from a humidifier?

There are 3 easy ways to clean your humidifier thoroughly and remove pink mold. These include the use of any of the following:

1.       Bleach

2.       White vinegar

3.       Hydrogen Peroxide

1)      Kill Pink Mold With Bleach

Bleach is a well-known cleaner and disinfectant, and if you want to give your humidifier a deeper cleaning and remove pink mold, then start by disassembling and cleaning your humidifier and then follow these steps outlined below:

Step 1: Unplug the humidifier and disassemble its parts

Step 2: Mix a gallon of water with a teaspoon of bleach.

Step 3. Get about half of the bleach solution, pour it into the water tank, and shake it well to wet the nooks and crannies.

Step 4: Place the tank on the base to allow the solution to reach the reservoir. Leave it for about 20 minutes.

Step 5. Empty the bleach solution from both base and tank.

Step 6: Rinse with the water (preferably deionized or distilled water but any type of clean water can do) until the smell of bleach is gone.

Step 7. Wipe the exterior part and reassemble the humidifier.              

Be sure never to mix bleach with white vinegar as this can produce an unwanted chemical reaction that can give off chlorine gas

2)      Kill Pink Mold With White Vinegar

White vinegar is well known to do a great job at cleaning humidifiers and getting rid of stubborn scales and molds. But be sure not to mix vinegar with bleach. To remove pink mold using vinegar, follow these steps:

1.       Unplug the humidifier from the plug

2.       Empty the humidifier

3.       Fill the tank with 2 cups of undiluted white vinegar

4.       Fill the base with 1 cup of white vinegar

5.       Give your humidifier a good shake for the white vinegar to touch every corner of your humidifier

6.       Leave the tank and base for 20-30 minutes to loosen the dirt and scale

7.       After 10 minutes, use something like a brush and scrub it down

8.       Make sure you’re reaching out to every nook and cranny (if not, mold can grow back quickly)

9.       Now pour out the white vinegar solution and rinse the tank and base with water

10.   Rinse until the vinegar smell goes away

11.   Reassemble the parts and wipe out the exterior of the humidifier to remove dust and dirt

3)      Kill Pink Mold With Hydrogen Peroxide

Bleach does disinfect your humidifier, but it’s not the best additive to use in your humidifier for some reasons, such as the smells it leaves behind. (Always check the user manual for your specific Humidifier model for what cleaning agents you can use.)

While white vinegar does an excellent job at cleaning, hydrogen peroxide could be more effective, which is why you might want to consider using hydrogen peroxide. Just be careful not to mix hydrogen peroxide with white vinegar as this can produces unwanted substances such as Peracetic acid

To clean and remove pink mold from a humidifier using hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Mix 1 part of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 4 parts of water
  2.  Fill the tank and the base with the solution and wait about 30 minutes
  3. Empty the tank and base and rinse with deionized or distilled water.
  4. Wait for the humidifier parts to completely dry out before the subsequent use.
  5. Use hydrogen peroxide solution to wash your humidifier, then cleanse it with deionized water.

When cleaning your humidifier, you can use an artistic brush to get down to all corners of the reservoir; this will help remove everything from every corner, even the hard-to-reach parts.

Is pink mold in a humidifier dangerous?

Yes, pink mold or any other mold in your humidifier can be dangerous. This is because the presence of mold is a sign that there are bacteria that can also spread and enter the respiratory system of the human body by breathing the contaminated air.

 So, once you notice pink mold in your humidifier, take action to get rid of it and preventive measures to keep it from growing again.

As mentioned earlier, an effective way of getting rid of that pink mold may involve cleaning the humidifier with an antibacterial disinfectant.

Humidifiers may come with any of the following risks

·         Older humidifiers may have stubborn mold and bacteria. For this reason, if your humidifier is much older, consider replacing it with a newer one.

·         Humidifiers with dirty filters or chambers can emit bacteria into the air that can cause respiratory problems.

·         Water and electricity can be dangerous. Ensure you keep children away from the humidifier whose hot water can burn them.

Prolonged exposure to mold can also cause several health irritations that include the following:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Coughing
  •  Rashes
  • General allergy symptoms
  • Lung inflammation
  • Sore throat·          

Tips on how to prevent pink mold growth in a humidifier

1.       Regularly clean the humidifier. As mentioned above, the easiest way to clean your humidifier is to clean it every morning you are doing your morning dishes. This removes any chance of mold growing back.

2.       Keep your humidifier dry when not in use. This is because Serratia marcescens needs moisture to survive and grow; without the needed moisture, it can never grow. So, when not using the humidifier, empty the reservoir and leave it on the drainer to drain out the water completely.

3.       Make it a routine cleaning for your humidifier, depending on what strategy and routine you pick for cleaning your humidifier, ensure that it dries out completely before the next use.

4.       Clean air filters regularly. That is for humidifiers with filters and other parts requiring regular cleaning. For most humidifiers, you might need to clean the filters 30-60 days but refer to your user manual for instructions on your specific model.

5.       Because local water is not always clean and soft. It’s advisable to stick to using distilled or purified water in the humidifier to reduce the risk of bringing bacteria into the humidifier

6.       Avoid using the humidifier continuously. Mold typically develops easily and quickly in continuously damp and warm environments. For this reason, avoid using your humidifier without breaks. Instead of using it for the whole day, take breaks every after 10 hours of continuous use. And when not in use, empty the water reservoir

7.       Remove and discard the filter before storage. If you plan to store the humidifier for some time without use, ensure that you remove the filter and thoroughly clean and dry the parts before storage.

8.       To increase the life of the humidifier, turn it upside down each time you fill it up with water to prevent the top from drying out. This also prolongs the life of your filter.

(FAQs)

Can pink mold make you sick?

While pink mold is not as toxic as black mold, continuous or prolonged exposure has been linked to respiratory and other health problems.

What happens if you inhale pink mold?

Inhaling of pink mold can cause the following health issues:
Cough, Fever, Difficulty breathing, or Hypersensitivity pneumonitis

When should you throw out a humidifier?

Consider throwing out a humidifier if it’s much older, and you can’t altogether remove mold and scales from it even after a heavy cleaning with any of the three additives we looked at in this article.

What happens if I don’t clean my humidifier?

If you do not clean your humidifier regularly, mold and bacteria can develop, especially on those parts that come into contact with water often.

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