I will explain why humidifiers can be good for your health and when they can pose a health hazard.
When Is a Humidifier Good for Your Health?
Humidifiers can improve your health in a variety of ways. Cold dry air will cause your skin to dry and crack. This can lead to skin irritation and even skin infections. It is the same process that causes your wood furnishings to crack and warp.
The dry cold air can contribute to cracked lips and bloody noses, too. However, humidifiers have the greatest impact when you’re having trouble breathing.
When the humidity level in your air is about 43 percent, it is more difficult for the flu virus to spread. Those that have a respiratory infection are able to breathe easier.
The higher humidity in the air helps loosen the mucus. Coughs become more productive. Their irritated nose and throat are soothed, as well. For example, if your voice is rough every morning, sleeping near humidifier could help.
This is the same reason why a humidifier can reduce your partner’s snoring at night.
If you have allergies, a humidifier can reduce your sinus irritation, though it may or may not remove allergens from the air. A humidifier can make your houseplants healthier, and that indirectly purifies your air.
Why Do People Think that Humidifiers Are Unsafe?
A humidifier contains water that it turns into a mist blown into your face or spread throughout the room. If there is mold or bacteria growing in the humidifier, you’ve just made everyone in the house sick.
Legionella outbreaks, for example, have periodically been traced to bacteria laced water, and it was usually inside of an HVAC system or water mister.
You should also leave the door open at least a crack so that the room doesn’t get too damp.
If it does, then you could fuel mold growth in the room. You may not want to leave the humidifier in the same place every night so that the surfaces under it don’t get waterlogged.
Pay attention to the humidity levels in your home, too. Run a humidifier in a house that is already humid, and you could will cause mold growth to explode. The extra humidity could damage materials inside your home, too.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Humidifier?
If someone is allergic to mold, a humidifier is often counter-productive. Avoid using a humidifier in these cases. Don’t use a humidifier to help someone who has asthma. It won’t provide much value unless they’re suffering from a respiratory infection.
If someone is allergic to dust mites, high humidity can make that problem worse. In this case, you can use a humidifier if you keep the humidity level low enough and aggressively clean the humidifier at least once a week.
And know that a humidifier only eases the symptoms, so continue cleaning your home to keep the dust mites under control.
Are All Types of Humidifiers Equally Safe?
There are several types of humidifiers. Central humidifiers are built into the HVAC system. These humidifiers can be maintained along with the rest of your HVAC system. If you keep it up, they’re incredibly safe.
Ultrasonic humidifiers create a cool mist via ultrasonic vibration. Evaporators blow air through a wet filter. Impeller humidifiers use a rotating disk to create a fine mist.
All of these humidifiers need to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week. However, they’re generally safe and can be used in any home.
Steam vaporizers use electricity to create a hot mist before it cools as it leaves the machine.
This final type of humidifier should be kept away from children, since the hot water can burn children. These humidifiers also shouldn’t be run when they run out of the water, since the humidifier can get hot enough to melt plastic or pose a fire hazard.
Regardless of the type of humidifier, look for units that are UL certified. This proves that it has been tested and proven to meet various safety standards.
How Can I Make My Humidifier Safe for Long-Term Use?
One option is using distilled or demineralized water. This water lacks the minerals found in tap water that can fuel bacterial growth. It also prevents the buildup of minerals inside the humidifier that need to be scrubbed periodically.
Don’t add essential oils, medicine or perfumes to the water. It will create a thick residue in the reservoir you’ll have to scrub away later.
The humidifier must be cleaned at least once a week. It can’t just be emptied and refilled. You need to scrub it with soap, soak it in bleach or use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution to kill mold and bacteria. Everything that touches water must be sanitized. Wipe it dry before you refill it and run it.
If your humidifier has air filters, change them as often as the user’s manual says. This will also reduce the energy required to run the humidifier, since the motor doesn’t have to work so hard to draw in enough air.
Always replace the air filter if it starts to harbor mold; you can tell by the smell or by the irregular black splotches growing in it.
Too much humidity can be as bad as too little. One solution is to buy a humidifier that has a humidistat or humidity sensor in it to turn on and off the humidifier as needed. The other is to buy a humidistat and turn off the humidifier when things are too humid.
How Do I Properly Use a Humidifier?
Place the humidifier on a flat, water-proof surface several feet off the ground. This allows the moist air to dissipate through the room. If the humidifier is in a child’s room, put it out of their reach.
Remember that a humidifier is adding water to the air, and water and electricity don’t mix. Don’t direct the stream of wet air at an electrical outlet or electronics.
Water buildup in the electrical components could cause a short circuit. Keep the power cord itself out of the way, since you don’t want anyone to trip on it.
Keep the cord and the humidifier away from heated surfaces like radiators.
Furthermore, when you empty and refill the unit, do so only after the unit is unplugged.
Then you can’t accidentally spill water on a running motor and cause sparks.
Sleeping with a humidifier on every night: it is safe? Yes, most of the time. You can sleep with a humidifier every night if your health doesn’t preclude it and you take measures to prevent the humidifier from becoming a breeding ground of bacteria and mold.
Follow our tips, and you’ll breathe easier at night and enjoy better overall health.