Do Humidifiers Help With Dust?
Dust is more than a nuisance to deal with before your mother-in-law arrives.
While the common misconception is that dust is comprised mostly of human skin, that isn't the case. Rather, two-thirds of that fine dust you see comes straight from the outside.
From the dirt on your shoes to the pollen on your clothes, you're tracking in more than you might realize. As such, it's normal to see that dreaded buildup on your mantle, dressers, countertops and more.
In your quest to find a solution, you might be wondering, "Do humidifiers help with dust?"
Surprisingly, the answer is affirmative, but only if you know the right way to approach it! Read on to learn how this handy household device can pack a powerful punch when it comes to reducing the dust count in your home.
What is Dust?
As mentioned, dust is far more than just human skin cells. While these are included in the mix, they comprise only a small portion of it.
Rather, most indoor dust is made of a combination of indoor and outdoor particles. A few of the most common materials that make up indoor dust include:
- Animal fur
- Pet dander
- Human skin cells
- Human hair
- Textile/carpet fibers
- Paper fibers
- Food particles
Keep in mind that these are only indoor irritants. Every time you leave and re-enter your home, you're also bringing outdoor dust into it. Some of the particles found in outdoor dust include:
- Soil particles
- Vehicular exhaust
- Tire particles
- Insect segments or follicles
While the specific ratio will differ from home to home, everyone's property has a unique mix of both indoor and outdoor dust.
Why is Dust Dangerous?
You know dust is cumbersome to clean and a constant source of aggravation but is it truly dangerous?
Beyond simply being gross, dust can actually pose a significant health hazard to you and your family.
If left uncleaned, dust becomes an ideal breeding ground for insects, microorganisms and other allergens. If you breathe them in during the day or at night while you sleep, they can make you ill or trigger an allergic reaction.
One of those organisms is dust mites.
Dust mites are small, microscopic pests that feed on the dust in your home. You'll find them on every single continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica.
Only about 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long, they're invisible to the naked eye and you can only see them with a microscope. As such, they can live all around your home and go unnoticed for years.
Some of the most common places that dust mites inhabit and hide include:
- Inside your mattress
- Within your curtains
- Nestled into your carpet fibers
There could be thousands, if not millions, of dust mites in your home right now. To make matters worse, it's not just the mites themselves that pose a health concern. As they feed on dust, these pests produce a substantial amount of waste.
In turn, these droppings can carry diseases or airborne illnesses within them. Considered this way, it's easy to see how even a small amount of dust can escalate into a major health concern.
Symptoms of Dust Allergies
An allergen is anything that can cause an allergic reaction in someone. Both the body parts and the waste of dust mites can act as allergens for some people. In fact, it's estimated that 20 million Americans are allergic to these pests!
Do you find yourself sneezing, itching your eyes or coughing when you go through old boxes in the attic? What about when you enter an older home? If so, dust might be an allergen that you're sensitive to.
In addition to being around too much dust, you might find that there are certain types of dust that trigger an allergic reaction more than others. For instance, dust from animal fur might cause your nose to run while outdoor dust doesn't bother you as much.
Dust mites are one of the most common triggers of both year-round allergies and asthma. Some of the common symptoms you might experience during a dust-mite-induced allergic reaction include:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
- Itchy skin
- Post-nasal drip
If you suffer from asthma, a dust mite allergy can make your symptoms worse. In this case, the signs can be more severe and warrant a call to your doctor. They can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Wheezing or whistling when exhaling
- Difficulty sleeping due to shortness of breath
Your doctor can perform different tests to determine if your allergic reaction is attributed to dust mites. Two of the most frequently used ones include a Skin Prick Test (SPT) and Specific IgE (sIgE) Blood Testing. The latter is used most often for children who might not tolerate skin testing.
Common Treatments for Dust Allergies
While the most efficient way to treat dust allergies is to avoid dust mites as much as possible, that's not exactly feasible. While there are steps you can take to limit your exposure to dust mites, it's impossible to rid your environment of them altogether.
In some cases, you might require medicines or other treatments to control your allergy and the symptoms that it causes. These include:
- Nasal corticosteroids
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots)
While most of these treatments are available over the counter, there is another option to add to your list: humidifiers.
How does a humidifier help with dust? Let's take a closer look.
Humidifiers and Dust: What You Need to Know
Put simply, dust mites thrive in humidity.
Specifically, they thrive in relative humidity levels that hover somewhere between 70% and 80%. Relative humidity is simply the amount of water vapor currently in your indoor air compared to the maximum amount it can hold.
Knowing this, it might seem as though a humidifier isn't the best device to use when you're trying to keep your dust allergies at bay.
However, consider this: Humidifiers help you get a better grasp on the humidity levels in your home, and control them more closely. Let's explore this concept in greater detail.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
Do you know how humid your home is?
A majority of homeowners would be stumped with this simple question, but if you have a premium humidifier, you can find the answer in seconds.
Many humidifiers come equipped with mechanisms that allow you to measure your home's relative humidity levels. Without such a device, you might not realize when the levels in your home creep above that 70% threshold.
To keep dust mites at bay, it's recommended to keep your relative humidity levels between 40% and 60%, with under 40% being optimal. Between 40% and 50%, most dust mites will die out.
If your device doesn't come with a built-in measurement tool, you can also achieve the same insights using a hygrometer. This is a simple device that looks a little like a thermometer. However, instead of measuring temperatures, it measures humidity levels.
Thus, while humidifiers might not combat your dust buildup directly, they do play a powerful role in helping you understand where your humidity levels stand. When you have this data in hand, you can decide when to run your unit to offer the most relief.
Rather than keeping it on all day and all night, you might opt to scale back to nighttime use only if you find that your relative humidity levels are a little high. A few common signs that this is the case include:
- Air that feels especially dense, moist or clammy
- Damp pillowcases or curtains
- Condensation building up on windows or windowsills
- The odor of mildew
- Rotting wood
- Visible mold
On the other hand, you might discover that your home's air is drier than you think, and even if you run your humidifier at full capacity, you still won't go above those limits.
Powerful Relief from Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
Another one of the important ways that humidifiers can help with dust mite allergies is by alleviating the symptoms of your allergic response. Let's review the many ways it can offer much-needed relief.
As mentioned above, a dust mite allergy can trigger a range of symptoms. Most of these are centralized in your nasal passages and sinus cavities.
From the minor (sneezing, itchy eyes) to the major (shortness of breath), these issues are nothing to contend with. While running your humidifier for too long can amplify the relative humidity levels in your home and aggravate a dust mite allergy, using it strategically can add a world of relief.
Consider the effects that constant coughing, itching, sneezing, and nose-blowing can take on your body. Your throat can become dry, along with your eyes. Your nasal passages can likewise become inflamed, sore and scabby.
As this occurs, your airways can become blocked with trapped mucus that's unable to escape out of your body. This can cause you to experience even more difficulty breathing.
This is where your humidifier comes in.
As it emits soothing water vapor into the air around you, this device can alleviate many of these symptoms. Your eyes become instantly more lubricated, as do your nose and throat. At the same time, the inflammation in your nose eases up and any built-up congestion loosens.
This movement can help you breathe more easily. You can also experience more productive coughs that help mucus leave your body.
Do Humidifiers Help With Dust? The Steps to Know
We've covered how humidifiers can help homeowners maintain stricter control over their home's humidity levels. You also know how they can relieve your bothersome allergy symptoms.
Now, let's take a look at a few maintenance and upkeep steps that you can take to make sure your humidifier doesn't encourage the buildup of even more dust mites.
Switch Your Water Source
First, fill up your tank with demineralized or distilled water rather than simple tap water. This way, as the water sits in your tank and enters the air, it won't be filled with as many microorganisms that your dust mites can feed on later.
If you've been noticing fine white dust on the furniture near your humidifier, that's a surefire sign that it's time to stop using tap water. This dust is normally attributed to the mineral content in your water. When the mist lands on a hard surface and dries, it can create the specs of white that you see.
Clean Your Machine Regularly
In addition to swapping your water source, be sure to keep up with a regular cleaning schedule.
You should deep-clean and sanitize your humidifier tank, base, and other components on a weekly basis. If possible, use natural cleaners such as vinegar over harsh, chemical solutions, including bleach. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best cleaning method to use for your specific device.
Change Out the Water
On top of your weekly cleaning, be sure to change out the water in your humidifier with every use. Allowing it to fester can cause mold and mildew to grow in your tank, which is then emitted back into your air every time you plug in your device.
A Home Humidifier Keeps Your Dust Allergies at Bay
Unless you live in Antarctica, your home contains some number of dust mites. Whether they're infesting your mattress by the thousands or you only have a few hundred lingering on your tabletops, they can be a major pain.
The answer to the question, "Do humidifiers help with dust?" is twofold.
On one hand, they allow you to more closely monitor your home's relative humidity levels, so you can keep them low enough to discourage dust mite populations from spreading.
On the other, they can provide incredible relief from common symptoms associated with dust mite allergies. When used sparingly, these devices can help soothe a sore throat, ease irritated eyes, and loosen stubborn congestion.
Knowing this, are you ready to invest in one today? We offer a premium ultrasonic humidifier, along with other items designed to maximize home comfort. Take a look at our full collection and contact us today with any questions!