Humidifiers are some of the most underrated appliances you can have in your home. They can increase and regulate humidity levels in closed air environments.

For some people, like those living in high-altitude areas with low environmental humidity, those who suffer from asthma, certain skin conditions, or those with large collections of books and art, humidifiers can be a gift from heaven.

However, having a humidifier can have one or two downsides as well. For example, with improper use or lack of maintenance, your humidifier could end up developing a rather unpleasant urine-like smell.

So if you are thinking of buying an air humidifier, or you already have one and are wondering why it smells like a dirty public restroom, join me after the break where I will tell you why your humidifier smells like urine, and the things you can do to prevent it.

Why Does Your Humidifier Smell Bad?

There are a few different reasons why your humidifier can end up smelling like urine or mold. To prevent this vomit-inducing smell, you will have to identify the underlying reason for the bad smell.

Reasons Your Humidifier Smells Like Pee

These are the most common reasons behind an unpleasant urine-like odor wafting out of your humidifier.

Water Mineral Deposits

Most water from city sources will have some degree of impurity. Even if the water is safe to consume, it will still have varying amounts of mineral deposits. Thus, your humidifier can end up with a hard crusty build-up of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur, which will inevitably produce a nasty urine smell.

Bacterial Growth

The water reservoir in a humidifier can turn into a veritable breeding ground for a wide variety of bacteria. Neglecting to regularly change the water filter, and properly cleaning the reservoir tank can cause large colonies of bacteria that produce foul-smelling organic byproducts, some of which smell like human pee.

Beyond the obvious unpleasantness of the odor, you should never take a stinky humidifier lightly since you may be breathing harmful bacteria without realizing it.

Mildew, Mold, and Other Fungi

Much like with bacteria, leaving a humidifier with stagnant water for extended periods can lead to the growth and proliferation of harmful fungal spores. These “molds” can also produce rank, musty smells that resemble that of urine.

What To Do If Your Humidifier Smells Bad?

First of all, if your humidifier ends up smelling like urine (or worse), don’t despair; it is a very regular occurrence. However, you will want to address the issue as soon as possible to minimize the risk of adverse health effects, or the embarrassment of a family member or acquaintance asking you point blank why your house smells like a truck stop restroom.

What To Do If Your Humidifier Smells Like Pee?

Thankfully, there is more than one treatment to resolve this repugnant problem. Follow the tips below to get rid of the urine smell, as well as to make sure that it never happens again.

Note that all of these solutions are entirely natural, very easy to do, and inexpensive, so there is no excuse to have a dirty humidifier stinking up your home.

Use Distilled Or Purified Water

Distilled or Purified water should be the only type of water you use to operate your air humidifier. So, if you’ve been using tap water to refill the water reservoir, empty it right now.

Make sure to properly deep clean the plastic basin, and then refill it with distilled water. This will completely prevent the buildup of smelly minerals, and thus help you eliminate the stink of urine from your home.

If you think distilled water can get expensive, I agree. The cost of distilled water can certainly add up quickly, especially if you are running your air humidifier often.

If this is the case, you may want to consider either buying a water distiller or learning to make distilled water at home. It’s a surprisingly simple affair.

Change The Water Frequently

This tip may seem like common sense, but the number of people who neglect to change their humidifier’s water supply is alarmingly large. If you are one of these people, don’t worry, it can happen to the best of us. However, it is essential to get into the habit of changing the water regularly.

Ideally, you want to change the water daily. Remember that stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Set an alarm or reminder to make sure that you never skip a day.

Clean The Reservoir

Make sure to clean the reservoir often. You don’t have to clean it with every change of water, but it should be done about once every five or seven days. The best and cheapest way to clean a humidifier is to fill the reservoir with a mix of equal parts of water and vinegar. You may also use bleach instead of vinegar, but in this case, only use about one-half to one-third the amount.

Add Natural Scents

Another way to combat foul smells coming from your humidifier is to add scented substances. While there are artificial fragrances available for purchase, I strongly advise against these. Instead, you may use natural substances such as vanilla extract, lemon juice. You can also use scented oils such as bergamot, lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosewood, and sandalwood oils.

However, if you do this make sure that you only add minuscule amounts. At most, you will want to add a few drops, lest you clog and muck up your machine. 

Check the manual for your humidifier before adding anything other than water to it.

Keeping your humidifier smelling fresh is far easier than you would think.

Humidifiers are only as good as your maintenance of them. Failure to properly clean and maintain your humidifier can result in rotten urine-like smells at best, and negative health consequences at worst.

Thankfully, you can easily avoid or revert these problems by following my advice. Do as I say and enjoy the many benefits of having a properly humidified home.