Best Practices To Follow When Using A Humidifier
Humidifiers are a great way to enhance the health and comfort of your home, especially during the cold winter months when air inside can easily get too dry and cause problems for you, your family and even your furniture and wallpaper. If you’re tired of having chapped lips and skin that’s dry, here are the best practices to follow when using a humidifier:
- Buy one that is UL-certified. There are many types of humidifiers on the market, from the kind that helps relieve nasal congestion to travel humidifiers to ones that are specially made for children, and even humidifiers that hook up to your central HVAC system. Regardless of the type and model you choose, humidifiers that are UL-certified will give you the peace of mind knowing that it has been inspected for the highest standards of safety and quality. Your health is worth spending just a bit more for this!
- Clean it frequently.
If you don’t do this, you’re just creating a literal reservoir for all kinds of nasty mold, spores and other environmental contaminants. There are many ways to clean your humidifier, but a simple one is to use good old-fashioned white vinegar because it’s inexpensive, it gets the job done and any residue won’t be harmful for you to inhale like bleach might be. A baby bottle brush and some Q-tips will be helpful to reach into every nook and cranny of your humidifier to get all the nasty gunk out. Take your unit apart and let the pieces soak in a vinegar solution in your kitchen sink or a bathtub for 30 minutes. Scrub with the tools you’ve chosen and wipe everything down before putting it back together. You’ll also want to change the filter based on your model’s recommended schedule, or any time you see that it’s starting to look gross. The last thing you want is mold building up and being circulated into your air by the humidifier that’s supposed to be making things healthier and more comfortable! If you think you may have a mold problem, just run a cycle of the humidifier with a water-vinegar solution and this will help clean the unit even further while also deodorizing your home’s air.
- Placement is important.
Keep your humidifier in a location where small children and pets won’t be able to interfere with its operation or create a safety hazard. Also be conscious of where the cord is located so that it doesn’t create a trip hazard or come near another hazard, such as a heating source. Also make sure that the output of the humidifier won’t condense in or near an electrical outlet. Ideally, a flat surface at about waist-level will provide the best results. If the table or surface you place it on isn’t waterproof, then place a towel underneath the humidifier to avoid damaging furniture. Point your vapor spray towards the middle of the room, and try to open at least one door some of the time so that you’re not over-humidifying that room.
- Clean water in, clean water vapor out.
Cold water is best because it doesn’t have the same amount of minerals that hot water does, which can easily collect over time in your humidifier and cause clogs and also can create ideal breeding grounds for mold and other toxins. Cycling the water daily and cleaning your humidifier often are crucial to maintaining your family’s health and safety. You don’t want to solve problems like chapped lips and dry skin only to cause mildew issues and even severe problems like respiratory infections. Also, whenever your humidifier isn’t being used, make sure to empty and dry the reservoir so that mold won’t start to grow inside it. Always remember to unplug the unit first whenever you’re going to move it or perform any maintenance!
Find the right humidity level and check before adding other liquids.
In the winter, it’s best to keep your home somewhere between 30 to 50 percent humidity. If you start to notice condensation on your walls or other fixtures in the home, you’re probably making things too damp and encouraging dust mites to collect which will only speed up mold and other problems. You can monitor your home’s humidity with a simple hygrometer that can cost as little as $10. One final consideration for your humidifier is that you want to consult your user’s manual before adding anything like essential oils or other additives. Protect your investment in this great piece of equipment by making sure that you’re not introducing a damaging substance. Now, sit back and breathe in your moisture-filled air!
More info? For information on moisture control in your home, read one of our other posts: How to Insulate Your Home for Winter