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can i put fabric softener in my humidifier

Can You Put Fabric Softener In A Humidifier? [Safe Or Not?]

Humidifiers have become common appliances in many American households. When people have it, they start to think about getting the most out of it—for example, putting fabric softener in it. 

However, putting fabric softener in a humidifier is a bad idea. It could pose health risks to you and shorten the machine’s lifetime. 

I will explore this “fabric softener and humidifier” more in-depth in the following sections to help you get all the essential pieces of information related to this topic.

Without further ado, let’s start!

Why do people want to add fabric softener to their humidifier?

Adding fabric softener to a humidifier can be weird for many of us, but people who want to do that have their reasons. 

Some people heard that fabric softeners could decrease surface tension, and they assume that they can help disperse moisture quickly if you add a small amount of it to the water. However, this is a rumor, and fabric softeners don’t work that way.

Others want to use it to refresh the stale indoor air. They just really like the scent of their fabric softeners and think it would be great if their home is full of fragrance. It is also why people want to add fabuloso to it. But it could be hazardous. More on that later.

There are also some customers who try to use fabric softener to clean the humidifier.  

So the idea of putting fabric softener in a humidifier is understandable now.

Why can’t you put fabric softener in a humidifier?

why you can't use fabric softener in a humidifier

As I said, you can’t put fabric softener in a humidifier. In this section, I will explain the reasons behind it. 

Humidifiers are not designed for fabric softeners. The primary purpose of a humidifier is to regulate the humidity level. Therefore, all its materials will only work well with water instead of other chemicals. 

As you know, fabric softeners are composed of many chemicals. If you put it in the water tank, it will gradually rust and clog the machine, causing overheating or malfunction. The diaphragm in the ultrasonic units and the wicks in the evaporative units are very susceptible to clogging. 

You can’t inhale fabric softener. The fabric softener in the water tank will get into the air along with the water vapor. When you breathe in the air, it will enter your airway, lungs, and other organs as well. 

The fabric softener is used for treating your clothes instead of your body. The chemicals are harmful to your health, triggering allergic reactions, headaches, or even cancer

Many fabric softeners contain methylisothiazolinone which can cause skin allergies and asthma. They also have Benzyl acetate, which is also related to pancreatic cancer.

If you have babies or pets at home, it would have even more adverse effects on them. 

So you can’t use it as an air freshener. It would not improve air quality and cause many health hazards you want to avoid. 

Can you use fabric softener to clean a humidifier?

According to many sources, the best cleanser for humidifiers is vinegar, and you can also use bleach to sanitize the machine every so often. 

The fabric softener is not a type of cleanser. On top of it, it could leave some residues in the base and water tank if you don’t rinse it thoroughly. 

There is nothing needed to be softened in a humidifier and if you don’t have any cleanser at hand, you can temporarily clean a humidifier with water.

Can you put fabric softener in a diffuser?

Diffusers and humidifiers share an array of similarities. No matter which type of diffuser you are using, its substances will disperse into the air. 

So when you put fabric softener in a diffuser, the harmful chemicals will be inhaled by you naturally, triggering the same effects while using a humidifier. 

The fabric softener is different from essential oil, and you can’t put it in a diffuser.

What can you add to a humidifier?

You already know the dangers of using fabric softener in a humidifier until now. But what can you add to a humidifier? 

Unfortunately, nothing should be added except for water. Regarding the type of water, distilled water is the best, and tap water is the worst if you are not using a vaporizer. 

Some models come with a medicine cup or oil tray for you to add essential oil and a few drops of perfume. But it is best not to put them into the water tank directly.


A humidifier could be very conducive in the winter months. It helps to relieve respiratory issues and dry skin. But when you want to give it more functionality, things can often go wrong. 

The fabric softener consists of various chemicals. It would be OK if you use it on the clothes, but it can be harmful when you inhale it.

When you add it to a humidifier, it will go into the air as tiny particles. Then it will get into your body through the airway. It would cause allergic reactions, asthma, or even cancer, not to mention headaches and difficulty breathing. 

Beyond that, the fabric softener can clog the machine, making it stop producing mist or become overheated. 

So continue to use your fabric softener in your washing machine instead of a humidifier. 

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Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested more than 150 products in person, including humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.

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