Humidifiers are a great addition to any home. They work wonders for making your living environment more comfortable by increasing the moisture content in the air.
After all, proper humidity levels are vital for reducing dry skin, cracked lips, and sore eyes - all of which are often caused by overly dry air that.
But many ponder the question: Are humidifiers safe to use in the home?
Too much humidity quickly presents risks and drawbacks of its own. Also, a machine that spurts steam may be perceived as dangerous, especially if you have children.
So, are humidifiers safe? We’re about to answer that very question once and for all. Continue reading to find out more...
What Health Risks Do Humidifiers Pose?
When we talk about the safety of large humidifiers, there are two factors we mostly think about: Are they hygienic, and is the air safe to breathe? And secondly, are they safe for a household to move and be around? Are they safe to handle?
The first question is a significant one. Overly humid air can promote the growth of bacteria and mold, and can, therefore, release allergenic materials into the air. This is especially important for those suffering from allergies or asthma to mind.
If you suffer from conditions like asthma, allergies, or respiratory problems, consult a doctor before purchasing a humidifier.
Bacteria released by a humidifier may set off these allergies or cause respiratory problems. While the humidity is generally easy to control, by simply switching off the humidifier or adjusting its settings, the machine itself can become unhygienic.
Humidifiers are safe to use so long as they're cleaned regularly (every two to three days). You'll need to soak all parts of the humidifier that touch the water in a 10% bleach solution and wash them thoroughly with soap.
Please note: That as you clean your humidifier, you must follow the instructions and user manuals provided by the humidifier's manufacturer.
Safety Risks Around the Home
Another worry associated with humidifiers is whether they are safe to keep at home, especially when children are around the house. Luckily, most humidifiers pose very little threat of injury.
However, those that produce steam through heat can include boiling water that may scold children if they’re not cautious or supervised. Many alternative types don't present this risk.
The Different Types of Humidifiers
While all humidifiers create steam or vapor which is released into the air, they do so in different ways:
Thes are installed alongside central air conditioning systems in offices and homes. They control moisture over the entire space and, expensive to install, and they're not portable.
For the sake of this article, we'll focus more on the more mobile and inexpensive humidifiers you could shop for today.
These humidifiers work by blowing air with an internal fan through a moistened wick or filter. This releases humidity into the air invisibly and disperses fewer pollutants than other humidifiers.
However, the filters have to be frequently exchanged for the humidifier to stay safe. This could also start raking up a cost as time goes on.
Cool Mist (Impeller) Humidifiers
These devices release cool mist from fast-moving disks that rotate within it. It is crucial to use this humidifier with distilled water and clean it regularly, as it may otherwise release a large number of microorganisms into the air.
Warm Mist/Steam Vaporizers
Steam humidifiers emit water vapor that has been heated and then cooled within the machine.
As this type contains hot water, it may be dangerous to children who may touch it. Generally, this humidifier is free of bacteria and harmful minerals, as the water's boiled before it's released into the air.
Ultrasonic Humidifiers emit cool mist from ultrasonic vibrations. They are safe for children to be around and enjoy the benefit of being very quiet.
However, they are likely to spread bacteria and other harmful elements into the air if not used with distilled water or regularly cleaned with soap.
Common Mistakes to Note and Avoid
Humidifiers are safe for most people that don’t suffer from asthma or allergies. Any risks are easily reduced by avoiding these mistakes.
Ignoring Humidity Levels in the Home
The level of humidity in your home can either help or hurt your allergy symptoms if not measured carefully. Ideally, the humidity should be kept lower than 60% in summer, and between 25 and 40% in winter.
Most humidifiers come with a built-in humidistat for measuring relative humidity, but if not, you can also buy a separate meter.
To keep your home at the right levels, keep track of these readings so that the humidity doesn’t exceed or fall below recommended values in your home. You should also try to keep moisture as consistent as possible.
Letting Humidity Exceed the Recommended Levels
It is a misconception to think that higher levels of humidity soothe cold and allergy symptoms.
Higher humidity can help moisten the nasal passages, release mucus during a cough, and ease a sore throat.
However, if the humidity is too high, allergy symptoms may actually worsen. This is true, primarily if you have known allergies to dust mites, molds, and mildew.
These allergens grow and thrive in your home when a certain level of humidity is exceeded. As a result, check the humidity levels regularly, especially when the room feels particularly dense or moist, or if pillows feel damp.
Turn down the humidifier or keep it off until the air has dried. Keep the humidity under 40%, especially if any of the allergies mentioned above are relevant to you.
Neglecting to Clean the Humidifier
Follow the specific manufacturer’s guidelines on how to clean your unit effectively. If you don't replace filters or clean the tank often enough, you can start growing mold, mildew, and bacteria inside of the humidifier.
Needless to say, when this happens, you'll release dirty mist into the air. This may severely worsen allergy symptoms and can even produce flu-like effects.
Using Tap Water in Your Humidifier
Ultrasonic room humidifiers work by breaking up water particles and splitting mineral particles. This creates a white dust residue around the room and in the tank.
This happens when you fill the humidifier with unfiltered water or tap water against the manufacturer’s instructions.
White dust in the air and tank can promote bacterial growth in the humidifier, which you may breathe in when they're disbursed into the air.
Instead, use distilled, demineralized, or purified water where the manufacturers suggest this.
Letting Water Sit in the Unit
Water should never be left to sit in the machine for days between uses. A film can form on the top, which breeds bacteria in the enclosed tank. Always empty water and clean the container when not in use for even a day.
If you notice bacteria or algae building up in your unit, you can use special water treatment formula to get this under control. When using and maintaining your humidifier, it's essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on all accounts.
Other Ways to Minimize Safety Risks
Choose a UL-Certified Humidifier
The UL logo on the product means it has been sampled and tested for compliance with necessary safety standards. Not all humidifiers are certified as safe and hygienic to use, so check its certifications before you purchase.
Put the Humidifier in a Safe Spot in Your House
Place it on a flat, waterproof software about three feet off the ground. Keep power cords out of the way and keep the wire away from heated surfaces. If the humidifier is in a child’s room, keep the unit out of reach.
Point the mist away from electrical outlets. Over time, water could build up and cause the outlets to rust or even create a short circuit.
Only Use a Humidifier When it Makes Sense
The humidity of the air in your home should stand between 30% and 50%. If you have allergies, you may wish to keep the humidity below 40%. If your home already meets these levels, don't use a humidifier. Otherwise, you'll suffer from excess moisture in the air.
Used safely, Humidifiers Provide Many Benefits
While excessive moisture in the house can be a problem, and sufferers of asthma or allergies should not use a humidifier at home, there are many benefits to the machines.
Ease the Symptoms of Colds, Sore throats and Coughs
Humidifiers raise the moisture in the air enough to keep nasal passages, eyes, and sinuses lubricated. This makes breathing easier, helps to clear mucus, and can relieve pain in both the throat and head.
The effect is similar to taking a hot bath, where the steam eases cold symptoms.
Prevent Dry Skin Occurring
Dry air can lead to dry, sore skin, cracked lips, and dry hair. A humidifier can raise the quality of the air to prevent this from happening in the first place. Needless to stay, this has the power to improve your general wellbeing in a subtle yet meaningful way.
Keeping the sinuses moist and healthy is also a great way to reduce snoring at night. Overall, ideally, humid air helps you breathe comfortably throughout the day.
Protect Your Furniture
Extremely dry conditions can dry out the wallpaper and cause it to peel. It can also trigger the wood to split, which not only damages the aesthetic of your furniture, but it can also hinder its structural integrity.
Obviously, this could ruin wooden floors or solid wood furniture, such as dining tables. A right level of humidity assures that materials around your home don’t dry out and break.
Create a Better Environment for Your House Plants
If you’re a plant lover, you may own tropical botanicals that prefer humid environments. There's no need for tropical humidity levels, even a little extra moisture in the air can better nurture the plants and promote their growth.
Dry air is especially common in winter when the cold air can’t hold as much moisture. As a result, home humidity levels are low in that season and cause many unpleasant side effects.
These include dry skin and lips, the increased likelihood of catching a cold, and less than ideal sleeping conditions.
Often, you may wake up with a congested head or blocked sinuses when the air is not moist enough. Humidifiers are great tools when used safely and correctly.
Are Humidifiers Safe? Yes!
To answer the question ‘Are humidifiers safe?’ - Yes, if used correctly, and only by those who actually benefit from them - i.e.:
- You don’t have existing allergies, your home doesn't have mold, mildew or dust mites, and you don’t suffer from asthma
- Your home’s humidity falls below the recommended levels, and you're suffering from dry skin, lips, and hair.
- You need higher humidity levels to properly look after your house plants or furniture (namely, tropical plants and solid wood furniture)
- You wish to offset seasonal weather changes, especially during the winter
Humidifiers are safe to use, so long as they're cleaned regularly, certified for safe and hygienic use, and don’t utilize hot steam.
Everlasting Comfort’s Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier is a reliable and certified machine for home use that delivers all the benefits of a high-quality humidifier (with the added assurance of ETL safety).
Browse our catalog of products designed to boost your wellbeing. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us for further details.