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What Type of Water Should I Use With My Humidifier?

One of the most frequently asked questions about humidifiers is about the type of water you should use in them. The short answer is that tap water will work. But as with most things, there are nuances to this answer
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Let’s talk about the effect of water on the effectiveness, safety, and durability of your humidifier. We’ll also compare tap water, distilled water, and filtered water, so you can pick which one you’d like to use for your humidifier.

If you don’t have time to read the full article, click on the links to skip to that section:

Can You Use Tap Water in a Humidifier?

Tap Water

The short answer is yes, you can use tap water in a humidifier. However, there are a few caveats. To understand the caveats, let’s take a step back and talk about what tap water is.

Tap water is, for all intents and purposes, good old H2O you get from your home’s plumbing system. It contains minerals that vary depending on where you are located.

The water is treated with various chlorine additives to kill bacteria and prevent disease.

There are guidelines for the amount of chemicals you can safely put into drinking water, but generally speaking, tap water should be fine for humidification purposes.

Looking for a humidifier ? Check out our roundup of the best ones here.

What’s the problem with using tap water in your humidifier?

The problem lies in the mineral content. Most tap water contains a decent amount of calcium and magnesium ions, which cause scale to build up inside your humidifier.

Scale can lead to reduced effectiveness of your machine due to the buildup of mineral deposits on the internal mechanisms. It can also lead to a faulty machine due to reduced water circulation.

Using hard tap water in your humidifier can also cause the machine to be less efficient than it could be because of the byproducts left in your home’s air.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

The hardness, or lack thereof, of water is determined by what kinds of ions are present in your tap water. You can find out how hard your water is by looking at a water report for your area.

Hard water means it has a lot of calcium and magnesium in it, whereas soft water has low levels of these minerals.

Regular tap water is considered hard or medium-hard in most areas.

What Is the Best Water for a Humidifier?

The best water for a humidifier is distilled water. Distilled water has minerals removed through a process called distillation, which purifies the water of virtually every impurity and helps prevent limescale build-up.

Since it’s free of contaminants and minerals, there are no scale deposits left behind in your humidifier. This means you won’t have to worry about mineral buildup at all, which extends the life of your machine.

Can springwater be used in place of distilled water?

Yes. Springwater is similar to distilled water and there shouldn’t be any mineral build-up in your humidifier.

Can you use filtered water?

Yes, but it’s not as beneficial as other types of water we mentioned above. Water filters will take out large contaminants like bacteria and fluoride from your tap water, which is great for your health.

However, filters don’t remove minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause scale. This means you’ll still need to wipe down your humidifier with vinegar occasionally. This helps keep the mineral deposits in check so they don’t affect the machine’s operation or build up inside it.

What if I don’t have distilled water for my humidifier?

Of course, distilled water is the priciest option and requires a special purchase or trip to a store.

Still, you can use both filtered and regular tap water for your humidifier.

As long as you keep it clean and keep an eye out for mineral build-up, there should be no issues with using hard water or tap water in your humidifier.

Can you use bottled water in a humidifier?

Sure! Bottled water is purified and distilled, so it’s great for humidifiers.

If the bottle says ‘spring water’, then it’s also a good choice. Springwater is very similar to distilled and filtered water in terms of minerals and impurities.

What is the best type of humidifier for hard water?

You can use hard water for any type of humidifier – whether that’s ultrasonic, impeller, evaporative or steam.

Just be sure to clean your machine with white vinegar regularly so scale doesn’t build up.

Why do vaporizers recommend only using distilled water?

Simply to prevent the build-up of scale and the spread of white dust.

If you use distilled water, there’s no risk of mineral scale deposits in your vaporizer. This also ensures that the quality of air circulating through your home remains intact without byproducts from minerals in tap water. White dust is a common issue with ultrasonic humidifiers because they send out tiny particles of minerals into air when misting.

However, always follow what your humidifier’s manufacturer recommends. This ensures that the machine is working at peak form and there are no issues.

How can you prevent scale buildup in humidifiers?

Limescale on humidifier

Since there’s no universal way to prevent scale buildup in humidifiers, it is important to read the manual for your specific appliance.

Some machines have a reservoir that’s dishwasher safe for cleaning. You can also use vinegar or descaling solution to wipe down the inside of your humidifier.

If the machine has no removable reservoir, you can wipe down the outside with vinegar or tap water.

Our comprehensive guide on how to clean a humidifier will help you get your humidifier back to a brand-new condition.


All types of water can be used in a humidifier, but distilled water is the best option to prevent scale and mineral deposits. Still, don’t let that stop you from getting a humidifier if all you have is tap water, or you just don’t want to buy distilled water.

Stick to cleaning regularly with vinegar or descaling solution and enjoy the benefits of cleaner air in your home.


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