Humidifiers offer many health benefits, especially during the winter. They restore moisture to the air and thus restore moisture to your skin, lips, throat, and nose. Those who suffer from sinusitis know that dry air can be irritating and painful when it hits the nasal mucosa. Humidifiers also make the indoor environment more comfortable – humid air feels warmer than dry air – and humidifiers can help you save money on heating bills.
However, humidifiers must be cared for and cleaned properly, or else you might experience some unwanted side effects.
Humidifiers and Microorganisms
Microorganisms grow readily in standing water. If you don’t clean your humidifier regularly, you risk contaminating the air with bacteria and mold.
Some larger humidifiers, like the Bemis Humidifier console units, contain air filters to ensure that any germs do not contaminate the air.
Enviracaire humidifiers utilize a built-in UV light to kill 99.99% of all germs.
Most humidifiers, on the other hand, do not have such germ guards in place, and you’ll need to clean them more carefully. Ultrasonic and impeller type humidifiers in particular encourage the growth of microorganisms.
Here are some tips for keeping your humidifier germ-free:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your humidifier, and clean it regularly.
- Use a brush, sponge, or scrubber to clean the inside of the water tank.
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%) will kill any microorganisms. Be sure to rinse the tank well, especially if you use some other type of cleaning or disinfecting solution.
Humidifiers and White Dust
Some humidifiers produce “white dust,” which is nothing more than trace minerals that come from tap water. White dust does not pose a serious health risk, but most people find it annoying at the least. It can gather on surfaces around your humidifier.
Some humidifiers contain absorption pads, cartridges, or other devices to remove minerals from tap water and eliminate the white dust. For example, the Whole Room Ultrasonic Humidifier is a great Vornado humidifier to keep your home comfortably humidified without the white dust.
Unfortunately, not all humidifiers are capable of absorbing the minerals. For these humidifiers, follow these simple steps to minimize unwanted white dust:
- Scrub the inside of the tank regularly with a brush or sponge.
- Use distilled water instead of regular tap water; distilled water does not contain minerals.
More Tips on Humidifier Use
- Keep any hot-water or steam humidifiers out of the reach of children.
- Do not humidity above 50 percent relatively humidity; excess humidity encourages the growth of mold and dust mites in the home. You can monitor your indoor humidity using a hygrometer.
- Watch for the build-up of moisture around humidifier. You may need to move it away from drapes, curtains, or other materials that easily absorb moisture.