Everyone knows the benefits of running a humidifier during the dry winter months. The humidifier adds much need water moisture to your home’s air which helps your lungs and keeps your nasal passages from drying out; preventing illness. It can even help prevent migraines.
However, if you are not regularly cleaning your humidifier – and we’re talking weekly here – then your humidifier might be brewing up something else – bacteria, mold and mildew.
ABC News tested 10 different humidifiers from 10 different homes for different molds and bacteria. Most of the humidifiers tested showed some mildew and bacteria growth, but two humidifiers were found to be extremely contaminated with heavy bacteria and mold growth to such an extent it could cause illness and aggravate conditions such as asthma.
People either are not aware or do not know that they need to clean their humidifier weekly. Experts recommend emptying out your humidifier of water DAILY and allowing it to air dry before filling it up again and using.
You also need to disinfect it weekly using vinegar or bleach.
“Itchy skin rashes and itchy eyes could be a sign of mold or mildew allergy coming from the humidifier,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in NYC in a story to CNN. “The bleach will kill that unhealthy mold and mildew.”
Before you start cleaning, it’s a good idea to visit the manufacturer’s website to see their recommendations. Enter the name of your manufacturer and the model number of your appliance to find specific care recommendations.
How to clean your humidifier
- Make sure the machine is not plugged in. Remove the tank and check for a filter. If there is a filter, only use water to clean it as other cleaners might ruin the filter.
- Fill a bucket with white vinegar and use it to soak any removable humidifier parts.
- Gently scrub the base using some vinegar on a sponge or soft cloth.
- Clean the tank with water and teaspoon of bleach. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly until the smell of bleach is completely gone. Allow to dry.
- Rinse and dry other parts before reassembling and using your humidifier.
Remember, household humidity should remain between 30 and 50 percent. Any more than 50 percent could aggravate dust mite and mold allergies.