View Full Version : Clay humidifier smells like mildew!?!

01-22-2018, 01:50 AM
I have several in case humidifiers, the little plastic pots containing clay that you soak in water. I was surprised to discover that one of them smells like mildew, even though the the clay looks pristine without any signs of contamination. This particular humidifier was given to me by an absolutely trustworthy ukulele store. It looks exactly like my Herco humidifiers inside and out except that it has the store's logo on the container instead of the brand name.

I'm wondering if anybody else has had this issue and how did you resolve it? The obvious answer is to toss this one out but I'd like to know if this is typical of clay, and especially Herco humidifiers.

01-22-2018, 02:07 AM
I don't use clay humidifiers, but I imagine anything that is constantly exposed to moisture would run the risk of mildew.

01-22-2018, 03:48 AM
Are you paying attention to the relative humidity, or do you just keep it in there All the time to stay safe? Because there is such a thing as too much humidity and that may be the problem. My friend got a good crop of mold growing in his guitar from over humidifying it.

01-22-2018, 05:01 AM
Clay molds. As a hobby potter, my older bags of clay often have mold spots and sometimes mold marbling through the blocks of clay.

I think there's a reason herco's are so cheap.

01-22-2018, 05:48 AM
You could try a soak in a 1 part bleach 10 part water solution and then let it dry out afterwards. You could also get it wet and run it in the microwave for long enough to boil the water in the clay. That is how I frequently sterilize kitchen sponges. Personally I don't want anything smelling like mildew or mold near my instruments. They are cheap enough to just toss it out and buy a new one. If this is a regular problem for you, I would say they are sitting in a humid enough environment that they are not drying out fast enough. In this case I would cease using them. Place a hygrometer in your case to see what the humidity is. Perhaps your case and instrument have achieved maximum saturation and are no longer pulling moisture out of the air.

01-22-2018, 06:12 AM
mold isnt growing on the herco because the humidity is too high.
The humidity inside the plastic box is probably always near 100%, because its wet, and that's what it does.
Mold/mildew grows because spores get on there, and theres organic material in there.

You could sterilize it my microwaving the crap out of it, but you'll still have organic matter in there, and it will likely mold/mildew again.

My suggestion would be to get another humidifier, maybe one of the gel ones.
Or.. pry the clay out and fill it with gel.

They sell the gel as floral/artificial dirt, or as smelly jelly for liquid potpourri.
Or.. if you have access to a new diaper, you can open it up and shake the powder out of the fiber. It will gel as well when wet.

Uke Don
01-22-2018, 10:52 AM
Bleach or microwave (be careful with the microwave -- explosions do happen) will completely kill the mold. Damages the cell membrane. Doesn't mean you can't get new mold spores in the future. I've been satisfied with the Oasis models. They don't seem to drive humidity in my cases over about 50%.