How To Fix It

Why Vicks Humidifier Is Not Working?

Vicks humidifiers are a popular choice if you’re sick or you want to avoid the problems that accompany dry air in your home. This small unit adds moisture to the air, and when yours stops working, it can be a huge inconvenience and potentially cause problems. 

The reason for a Vicks humidifier not working is a mineral build up. Hard water contains minerals. Once those minerals dry, they harden and clog essential parts inside the humidifier, causing the unit to fail.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly why Vicks humidifiers stop working and how to fix the problem. I’ve included information for all of the different types of humidifiers on how to properly troubleshoot correctly for each. As a bonus, I’ve shared tips on how to properly clean your unit and how often to do so to help avoid malfunction in the future. 

The Reason Your Vicks Humidifier Is Not Working

Mineral build up will eventually cause your Vicks humidifier to stop working. Continuous mineral exposure causes hard water deposits. The mineral deposits continue to collect, eventually leading to a blockage that stops the humidifier from working. 

How To Remove Mineral Buildup?

Removing mineral buildup from your Vicks humidifier can take meticulous cleaning. You’ll need a few items to complete this task. These items are: 

  • Undistilled white vinegar
  • A toothbrush
  • Soft cleaning cloths
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • A cup or bowl

Vicks Humidifier Weekly Maintenance

Vicks recommends that you clean your humidifier once a week. Weekly maintenance ensures that your humidifier is descaled and able to run efficiently. Fortunately, the process only takes about 15 minutes.

The cleaning method varies per the particular type of product you have. There are some precautions and steps that apply to all their products. These steps include:

  1. Turn off the unit and unplug it.
  2. Remove the water from the tank. 
  3. Fill the base with undiluted white vinegar and let it soak.
  4. Clean other parts while the base soaks.
  5. Empty the base and thoroughly rinsing with water. 

How To Avoid Mineral Buildup?

Tap water contains minerals which over time create mineral buildup. The best way to combat it is to use the appropriate water for the humidifier. Distilled water and purified water are your best options.

Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strongly advise against tap water in humidifiers. Both agencies find that distilled water keeps harmful microorganisms at bay. 

Harmful Effects of Mineral Buildup

Sometimes, mineral deposits are expelled out of the humidifier in the form of fine white dust. This white dust can be harmful to anyone but is magnified for children and those with asthma. The EPA advises more frequent cleaning than Vicks- at least once every third day. 

Different Types of Vicks Humidifiers

Vicks makes and sells a few different types of humidifiers. To understand and troubleshoot any potential issues that arise, it’s essential to know what kind of humidifier you have. 

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Here are four types of Vicks humidifiers:

  • Cool Mist Humidifier: This produces a cool mist, visible to the naked eye. 
  • Evaporative Humidifier: It uses an internal fair to take in air. The air travels through a moist wick filter, and because of this, it’s sometimes called wick humidifiers.
  • Ultrasonic Humidifier: A diaphragm vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency, creating water droplets.
  • Warm Mist Humidifier: This type also produces a visible mist but is warm, as you may assume from the name. The bonus of this type of humidifier is that it also warms. 

Once you identify the type of humidifier, you can determine why it may not be working properly.

Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier Not Working

Unfortunately, there may come a time when your Vicks Cool Mist humidifier stops producing mist. If you notice this, you’ll want to troubleshoot. First, you should make sure the unit is plugged in.

You also want to make sure there is water in the tank. Next, make certain that the unit is sitting level; an uneven surface can prevent the misting process. 

If the unit is plugged in, has water in the tank, and is sitting on a level surface, then mineral buildup is most likely the cause. Follow the steps listed above to clean and gently lift the mineral deposits.

Vicks Evaporative Humidifier Not Working

Over time, your Vicks Evaporative Humidifier may have reduced output or ,worse, none at all. Often, it’s mineral buildup.

The collection of mineral buildup can affect a handful of internal parts, but there’s another reason why an evaporative humidifier may fail.

For any noticeable decrease in output, try checking the wicking filter. Look out for any discoloration, holes, or tears.

Another telltale sign that the wicking filter is no longer good is if it’s dry and not moist to the touch. 

A note of maintenance for the wicking filter; change a minimum of once per season. It may need to be changed more often depending on how often the unit is used, the environment it’s used in, and the mineral content of the water.

Vicks recommends never storing the evaporative humidifier with a used wicking filter inside.l 

Vicks Ultrasonic Humidifier Not Working

The Ultrasonic Humidifier should produce a constant and consistent stream of mist. Sometimes, mist production issues occur.

First, verify the tank is filled to the water fill line. Like the cool mist humidifier, you’ll also want to ensure it’s on a level surface.

If neither is the issue, move on to inspect the nebulizer and water sensor. If there are mineral deposits, a soft cloth and white vinegar usually will clean these parts safely and effectively.

If the soft cloth doesn’t entirely remove the mineral deposits, soak them for up to 1 hour in a half water, half white vinegar solution. 

The Vicks Ultrasonic Humidifier uses a demineralization cartridge. Sometimes, the demineralization cartridges get clogged. A simple test, removing the cartridge and running the unit, will help you determine if the cartridge is no longer good.

If mist is produced without the demineralization cartridge, discard it, and replace it. It’ll take about 15 minutes before the new demineralization cartridge to thoroughly saturate with water and produce mist again. 

Read: Why Is My Ultrasonic Humidifier Not Working?

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier Not Working

The most likely cause for a mist humidifier to stop working is mineral deposits. These units are prone to mineral buildup. The water comes into contact with the heating element of the machine so the water evaporates, but the minerals are left behind. 

The mineral buildup can coat the heating element resulting in the humidifier no longer producing the warm mist. As this happens, you may find a crusty, black or brown coating on the heating element.

A thorough cleaning should rectify the problem, and you’ll need to chip off the crust carefully. Once the heating element is exposed, it should function properly.

Benefits of a Humidifier

Humidifiers can have the occasional problem, but they’re still used in many households. There are so many benefits to these small units. Adding moisture to the air has more advantages than we may realize. 

Humidity is naturally moisturizing. People who experience discomfort from dry air, especially during winter or with heavy air conditioning use in hotter months, get relief from humidifiers. 

Below are a few physical issues that humidifiers help improve:

  • Bloody nose/nose irritation
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry cough
  • Dry skin
  • Dry throat
  • Irritated vocal cords

Not only that, humidifiers health and environmental benefits including:

  • Preventing the spread of airborne viruses
  • Reducing snoring
  • Relieving allergy symptoms 
  • Preventing static
  • Helping your home feel warmer


Vicks offers several types of humidifiers. While some may have issues specific to that type, the overall common reason a Vicks humidifier stops working is due to mineral buildup from water.

Fortunately, this can be partially avoided by using distilled or purified water. Otherwise, a good cleaning with vinegar will have your Vicks humidifier working in no time.