Don’t Use Distilled Water In Your Humidifier (Here’s Why)

  • By: madison
  • Date: November 24, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Humidifiers and steamers are a great way to add moisture to your home during winter.

But suppose you’re using a humidifier that requires distilled water. In that case, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks—both for your health and the long-term effectiveness of your humidifier.

Key Takeaway’s

  • Humidifiers are devices that emit water vapor into the air to increase humidity levels.
  • There are many different types of humidifiers, each with pros and cons.
  • One type of humidifier is the evaporative humidifier, which uses a wick to absorb water from a reservoir and release it into the air.
  • Another type of humidifier is the ultrasonic humidifier, which uses high-frequency vibrations to create a fine water mist.
  • Distilled water is often used in humidifiers because it does not contain minerals that can build up and cause problems with the device.
A person holding distilled water in a bottle.
Don’t Use Distilled Water In Your Humidifier

Is It Safe To Use Distilled Water In A Humidifier?

The answer to the question, “Is it safe to use distilled water in a humidifier?” is no. Using distilled water in your humidifier can cause damage to its components and may create health risks for you and your family.

Here’s why:

  • Distilled water has a high mineral content that can stain or damage some humidifiers.
  • Some minerals are known irritants—including copper, magnesium, manganese and iron—and using them in this manner could cause harm if inhaled through steam or released into the air when condensation forms on the internal surface of the unit.
  • Minerals also build up over time inside your humidifier’s tank, reducing its ability to produce mist.
  • The white dust created by this process can be extremely irritating if inhaled directly into the lungs; those who suffer from allergies or asthma are even worse still!

No, Distilled Water Is Not Recommended For Use In Humidifiers

Humidifier producing mist in a room.
No, Distilled Water Is Not Recommended For Use In Humidifiers

The fact is, distilled water is not recommended for use in humidifiers. Distilled water can damage the humidifier and reduce its efficiency, leaving you with less than the full benefit of your purchase.

A major drawback of distilled water is that it creates white dust that may harm your health.

Suppose you do choose to use distilled water in your humidifier. In that case, there are some precautions you should take to protect yourself from these possible dangers.

Distilled Water Can Damage The Humidifier And Reduce Its Efficiency

When you’re using distilled water, the minerals normally in tap water are removed. Thus your humidifier will have to work harder to produce the same quantity of moisture as it would ordinarily.

This can cause damage to your humidifier over time if you continue to use it with distilled water.

In addition to damaging the humidifier, using distilled water may also result in reduced efficiency compared to other types of liquids used in your humidifiers (e.g., rainwater).

Additionally, Using Distilled Water Can Create A White Dust That Can Be Harmful To Your Health

Distilled water can cause irreversible damage to your device’s delicate internal parts—and could even make them toxic.

And if that weren’t enough reason for you not to use it (it is), here’s another one: Using distillate as an alternative for regular old H20 will result in that familiar “white dust” floating around inside your machine—which could potentially cause respiratory problems among those who breathe regularly close enough for these particles (like sleeping children).

When distilled water evaporates into the air and turns into a fine mist, it can leave behind mineral deposits on hard surfaces like your furniture or walls.

While these deposits aren’t harmful to humans and can be easily cleaned with soap and warm water, they create white dust that can get into your lungs if you breathe it in.

So if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), using distilled water could worsen your condition because of the minerals left behind by evaporating distilled water.

It Is Better To Use Filtered Or Demineralized Water In Your Humidifier

If you are using a humidifier, it’s important to know that the water should be filtered or demineralized. This will ensure the quality of your home’s air.

Distilled water has the drawback of being devoid of any minerals that may be present in tap water (like calcium and magnesium).

These minerals are necessary for proper bodily functions, and their absence can cause problems like dry skin or brittle nails.

While distilled water does have its uses—for example, when cooking rice—it should not be used in humidifiers or vaporizers because it has no added benefit over regular tap water.

You Should Also Regularly Clean Your Humidifier To Prevent The Build-Up Of Minerals And Bacteria

The most important thing to keep your humidifier clean is to clean it regularly. To do this, use a solution of warm water and vinegar or straight-up white vinegar if you don’t have any other kind around.

Don’t use soap because it can leave residues behind that could clog the system and cause it to not work properly.

Suppose you are using distilled water in your humidifier. In that case, it’s also important that you replace the filter regularly (at least once per season), as mineral build-up will eventually clog it up.

If you’re unsure how often that should be, refer to the user manual for instructions from the manufacturer of your specific model.

But I’d say at least once every two months would be reasonable for average usage patterns (and much less frequently if yours runs all day continuously long).

How To Clean Your Humidifier With Distilled Water?

A person pouring small amount of distilled water in a small vial
How To Clean Your Humidifier With Distilled Water
  • Remove the water tank from the humidifier.
  • Remove the wick filter and gently squeeze out any excess moisture.
  • Wash the tank and wick the filter with warm soapy water, then rinse thoroughly and dry it with a towel before replacing it with your humidifier.

The Importance Of Replacing The Filter In Your Humidifier Regularly

You should replace the filter in your humidifier once a week. If you use distilled water in your humidifier, you will need to replace it more often.

This is because distilled water has no minerals or chemicals and, therefore, cannot absorb any of the impurities from the air as tap water can.

When using tap water, it is recommended that you replace your filter every two weeks because of all the chemicals found in tap water, such as chlorine and fluoride.

You should also make sure that when buying replacement filters for your humidifier, they are compatible with whatever type of humidifier system you have, so there are no problems when installing them on their own.


If you’re using distilled water in your humidifier, stop. It’s not worth the risk to your health and the humidifier itself. Instead, use filtered or demineralized water as recommended by the manufacturer.

Clean it regularly to prevent build-up from minerals and bacteria, and replace its filter regularly (if there is one).

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some other options for choosing a water filter for your humidifier?

There are other options for water filters for a humidifier, such as activated carbon and ultraviolet light filters. However, distilled water is not compatible with either of those types of water filters.

What are the benefits of using spring water in a humidifier?

One of the benefits of using spring water in a humidifier is that it has more minerals than tap water. These minerals can help to absorb moisture from the air and improve humidifier performance.

What’s the difference between distilled water and regular tap water in a humidifier?

Distilled water has no minerals or chemicals which can harm your humidifier. Tap water contains chlorine and fluoride, which may harm the humidifier.

Is there anything I need to do differently when using distilled water in my humidifier?

Distilled water should be replaced more frequently than regular tap water because it doesn’t have the minerals and chemicals that regular tap water does.


Kenneth Sine
Kenneth Sine

My name is Kenneth Sine, and I’m a product engineer who has been working with humidifiers for over ten years now. In my spare time, I write for, where I share my knowledge with others who want to learn more about the world of humidifiers.