Maintaining and Cleaning Humidifier Reservoirs

Many health professionals and the American Association for Respiratory Care, believe that most of the time, humidifiers on oxygen concentrators are unnecessary, and conclude that only those using a flow of 4 LPM or higher need it. You might feel otherwise if you think your airways are getting dryer during the winter or the dryer months of the year. Some people also say that the humidifiers for oxygen concentrators don't produce enough moisture for it to count. If you are on the go with your portable oxygen machine and you feel dry, then there is a need for it.

Thankfully, maintaining and cleaning the humidifier for your portable oxygen unit isn't difficult, and you don't need to do it every single day. Of course, you should always follow the manual instructions that came with your oxygen concentrator or the humidifier, but these are some general guidelines.

When refilling your humidifier to use your concentrator after downtime, don't be tempted into only top off the old water with new water. The standing water in the humidifier may have already gotten the chance to become a home for bacteria. Empty the reservoir of the old water, rinse it out, and refill with new water. Always use distilled water, since you can count on it not having any metals or other traces that could harm you or cause damage to the humidifier.

Clean the humidifier bottle every 3 days with a mild detergent. Start out washing with warm water and the soap, and then be sure to rinse all trace of detergent away with hot water. It's a good idea to give it a soak in a vinegar and water solution for a minute or two, to make sure there are no remaining bacteria. Vinegar is an effective bactericide and fungicide, without being a harsh chemical that can cause damage over time. Dry the bottle as much as you can with a paper towel and let it air dry on a clean surface.

Scrub any tubes attached to the humidifier with the mild detergent, and use the same hot water rinse and vinegar method that you used for the bottle. Scrub it with a plastic brush that is only used for cleaning your humidifier. Keep this scrub brush clean by cleaning it with bleach and allowing it to dry completely.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only.

Page last updated: October 26, 2018

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

10 thoughts on “Maintaining and Cleaning Humidifier Reservoirs”

  • Fran

    What do you scrub with a brush and what does the brush look like

    • Danielle Jason

      For unit specific information regarding maintaining your unit or accessories, it is always best to refer to the owners manual. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our Customer Service Department at 877-303-9289.

    • Susan Pressey

      How is the Humidifyer Water Bottle hooked up to the concentrator? May I clean tubing with hot soapy water. Must distilled water be used with Humidifyer Bottle? Is bottled water the same thing?

      • Danielle Jason

        Thank you for your comment, Susan. If you review the above blog post you can find we specify to "Always use distilled water, since you can count on it not having any metals or other traces that could harm you or cause damage to the humidifier." You can also find details regarding cleaning in the post above. If you are interested in hooking up a humidifier bottle to your concentrator you will want to review to the owners manual with your machine. If you do not have the owners manual, you can download your specific manual here:

    • Liz

      The answer to the first question is still completely unclear: what do you scrub with a brush, and what does the brush look like? When the author says "Scrub it with a plastic brush," does he mean to scrub the tubing? What kind of brush could get inside it?

      • Margaret Goodman
        Margaret Goodman October 22, 2018 at 9:09 am

        The article is referring to scrubbing the tubing. The brush would be one that you can get from the store that would be for straws.

  • Sherrie

    Once you start using the humidifier bottle, is it normal for the tubing to have water very visible? When I remive it from my nose, the water just pours out.

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Sherrie. If you are seeing visible water in your tubing it is likely you have over-filled the humidifier bottle. If you are still experiencing issues, contact our Service Department at 877-303-9289.

  • Loubna

    Unfortunately I can't find distilled water in my vacation resort. What can I do just for the coming 10 days?

    • Corey Dyben

      Dear Loubna,

      Thank you for reaching out - you can use bottled water in place of distilled for your vacation.


      The AMSR Team


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