We live in an era where everyone is opinionated and the internet has offered a platform for people to project their opinions. For instance, following an episode on the Simpsons where Homer puts vodka in a humidifier and falls asleep drunk in a room full of vodka fumes, which has raised a heated debate on if you can put vodka in a humidifier.

So can you put vodka in a humidifier? The simple answer is no. There are several reasons why you should not attempt to do this. For instance, placing alcoholic drinks in a humidifier may damage it depending on the make of the humidifier. It could also lead to a fire emergency and not forgetting health consequences of inhaling vaporized alcohol. All these reasons have been discussed in detail down in this article.

If you are looking to understand why you should not place vodka in a humidifier, this article is for you. We will also highlight other things that should not be added to a humidifier, tips to maintaining your humidifier and other related issues

Why you shouldn’t add Vodka in a humidifier

Look, we understand all the hype from the Simpsons, but to be fair, Homer in the Simpsons is a cartoon character and a lot of what is done there doesn’t have to be practical. Adding vodka or any other alcoholic content in a humidifier is a risky affair, I cannot stress this enough. Here is why:

Fire Emergency

As mentioned before, adding vodka in a humidifier could result in a fire explosion. To start, understand that vodka is a flammable liquid. Looking at the humidifier it has a heating element that boils the water to steam, as it should.

So imagine what happens when you replace this water with vodka. You are exposing a flammable liquid to heat. This means that fire is a likely possibility. That said thou, note that the occurrence of a fire is reliant on the model of the humidifier.

The modern humidifier uses the cold steam system to vaporize water by sonicating which makes it less likely to cause a fire as compared to humidifiers that use a heating element

Therefore, unless you are ready to accrue the cost of a damaged humidifier and wasted vodka, save your vodka for your stomach and not your nostrils

Health Risks


First, if you are looking to get high from inhaling vaporized vodka, then you will have to inhale a lot of alcohol. The only problem is, unlike in bottles, you cannot know when a lot is too much. Therefore, you stand a chance of being extremely intoxicated and even passing out in a room fogged with vodka. Now, that does not sound so safe; does it?

Second, inhaling vaporized alcohol is looking at a potential alcohol overdose. As I said before, when it comes to vaporized vodka, there is no telling when you have had enough.

You may argue that you poured only a bottle of vodka but hear me out. Unlike liquid alcohol, vaporized alcohol bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the bloodstream once it is inhaled

Ideally, when you overdose on alcohol, the body rejects the alcohol by vomiting. Now since the digestives tract is not involved, you lack a way to channel out the excess alcohol. Therefore, there is a high chance that you will remain overdosed until the highness fades off. This also exposes you to alcohol poisoning which not only kills but also kills very fast

Due to the overdose, you may likely become an addict. Another health risk is that the vodka may dry the nasal passage exposing it to potential Infections.

Things You Shouldn’t Put in a Humidifier

Other than vodka, the following are things you should not attempt adding to your humidifier and the reasons why

  • Essential Oils

Can I add essential oils to my humidifier? The general answer is no, especially if you are using an evaporative humidifier. The evaporative humidifier works by absorbing large amounts of water from its base using a wick. Once the wick is saturated the fan on the humidifier blows on the wick to evaporate the water into the air, therefore, raising the humidity levels in your room.

So now that we understand how a humidifier works, what happens if you replace the water with oil? For starters, the oil could eat on the base of the humidifier since it is usually made of plastic. The damage does not stop at the base when the wick absorbs the essential oils it could also get damaged

Therefore, we are looking at total damage to the internal parts of a humidifier due to using essential oils. You be the judge, is it worth it?

Other than the damage on the humidifier, due to the heat produced, the contents of the essential oil are broken down meaning that should the humidifier work you may not get all the benefits of the essential oil.

Moreover, when using essential oil in a humidifier you lose control of how much-diffused oil is enough since a humidifier works continuously.

That said, there is an exception to using essential oils in a humidifier. If you have an ultrasonic humidifier, it might be possible to use essential oils. However, this is on condition that the ultrasonic humidifier has a diffuser or aroma tray. If not then just like the evaporative humidifier, you may end up damaging your humidifier.

Apart from the ultrasonic humidifier, you could use a cool-mist humidifier (see Amazon). Other than that if you insist on using essential oils in a humidifier, make sure you regularly clean the humidifier to ensure the internal parts are not damaged

Also, know the right amount of the essential oil you want in your air. This avoids the trouble of a saturated room with say Eucalyptus scent.

  • Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. These liquids are used as a topical antiseptic both in the household and in industries.

Due to their antiseptic properties, there are believes that rubbing alcohol can be used to clean a humidifier. This has not been proven to work. If anything, as mentioned before, vaporized alcohol is dangerous

Although people may argue that the saturation level of rubbing alcohol is to low for it to produce dangerous fumes then, If that is the case, then the saturation is also too low for the alcohol to kill the germs and bacterial it is meant to kill in the humidifier. This defeats its use in the first place

So, should you use rubbing alcohol in a humidifier? No, you should not use any alcoholic liquid in the humidifier. This also applies for nail polish remover and painters

  • Bacteriostatic Agent

What about a bacteriostatic agent, can I add one in a humidifier? First, a bacteriostatic is an agent that is used to stop bacteria from reproducing without necessarily killing them.

When it comes to adding a bacteriostatic agent in a humidifier, it depends on the type humidifier you are using. A bacteriostatic agent works perfectly for an evaporative humidifier to help in preventing a buildup of algae, bacteria, and even mold. On the other hand, it should not be added in an ultrasonic humidifier

Tips to Maintain your Humidifier

Other than the above-highlighted things, there are other tips on maintaining your humidifier

  • Use cold water in your humidifier. Just like tap water, hot water has heavy mineral content. Therefore, using it in your humidifier increases the risk of growth of bacteria following the white dust mineral deposit
  • Place your humidifier on a firm flat surface where it cannot easily be knocked over. Moreover, place it away from children’s reach due to their curiosity.

Also, make sure the power cord is hidden to avoid tripping accidents

Still, on placing your humidifier, make sure the mist points way from the electrical outlets. This is because the mist could eventually cause the electrical outlets to rust

The humidifier should be at least four feet away from the bed.

  • Do not over humidify the room. How do you tell the moisture is too much? Well, for starters, by looking at the window or glass surfaces. If there are tinny droplets of water then it is time to switch off the humidifier. Alternatively, you can monitor the humidity levels using a hygrometer. The ideal humidity is about 30-40 % when these levels are surpassed, the moisture starts to condense on surfaces including that of the humidifier. This creates a good atmosphere for bacterial growth, which could cause infections.

To avoid the excess mist, make sure your door remains open when the humidifier is on. Also, turn the mist away from the walls and corners.

  • Keep your humidifier clean. This is the most basic yet vital rule of maintaining your humidifier. Note that a dirty humidifier can lead to the growth of bacteria, molds and mildew, which are then blown into the air and your respiratory system. Eventually, they could lead to a lung infection among other health risks.

Cleaning your humidifier starts with emptying the tank and refilling it a new every time you want to use the humidifier. Also, once you are done using the humidifier empty and dry it before storing it. When refilling the tank, take the opportunity to clean your humidifier. Get rid of the mineral deposit and other dirt.

Related Questions

Can I use tap water in a humidifier?

It is not recommended you use tap water in your humidifier. This is because tap water has many minerals. A humidifier, on the other hand, works by breaking down water particles and splitting them up. Due to this process, a white residue is usually formed in the tank and sometimes around the room to form  ‘a white dust’. 

Thus, due to the heavy minerals in tap water, there is buildup in the form of the white dust, which then promotes the growth of bacteria in the humidifier. If you do not notice the build-up early enough and you keep using the humidifier, you will be blowing bacteria to your room and may end up with a respiratory infection.

That is why it is recommended that you use distilled water for your humidifier or purified water

Can I mix alcohol and essential oils?

Yes, you can but remember this should be used in a diffuser and not a humidifier. An oil diffuser works by spreading the aroma of essential oils throughout the house. To do so, some oil diffusers require heat, electricity, while others require reeds.

Alcohol comes in handy for oil diffusers that use reeds. This is because alcohol evaporates faster making it a good option for up taking the oils through the reeds. Besides, should the diffuser be turned over, the alcohol would not make a dire mess as compared to what an oil-based diffuser would do.

To mix alcohol and essential oils follow the following procedure: Pour ¼ cup of hot water in a container, add ¼ cup of alcohol, even vodka works then add about 20-25 drops of essential oils. Swirl the jar to mix the solution.

Related Article: Can You Put Humidifier On Carpet?

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