Humidifiers, On the Level

Beat the season’s dry air by getting the best use out of your humidifier

If winter means tight, dry, itchy skin or you suffer from allergies and are plagued by scratchy throat or nasal congestion, then a humidifier may be your new BAF (best appliance forever). But there’s more to getting the most out of this household tool, which increases the level of water vapour in your indoor air. It’s not just about filling it with water, plugging it in, and letting it do its thing. Here’s how to get the relief you’re desperately seeking this season.

HumidifierConsider the humidity levels in your home

In the winter, you should maintain the humidity between 25 and 40 percent (and below 60 percent in the summer months). While your humidifier may have the ability to measure the humidity in the air, you may be able to get a more accurate reading by buying a separate hygrometer to regularly check the humidity levels.

Maintain a healthy humidity level

Although you’ve invested in the humidifier to increase the levels in your home, this doesn’t mean the more humid the better. In fact, if levels rise too much, this could actually worsen your allergy symptoms by creating an environment for dust mites, mould, and mildew to flourish. Obvious signs you’ve gone overboard with the humidity include damp home accessories such as curtains or condensation on your windows.

Use only distilled or demineralized water

It’d be easier and less costly to just use tap water; however, the minerals in tap water will end up in the vapour produced by your humidifier, resulting in a dusty white residue in the air you breathe and on your furnishings. Also, the minerals may help bacteria to grow in your unit. If you must use tap water, use cold water since hot water contains more minerals.

Change the water regularly

Break that habit of filling the humidifier with as much water as possible to avoid the chore of refilling it. Letting water stand in your unit is harmful as it can promote the growth of bacteria or algae. When you’re not using it, keep the tank empty.

Keep your humidifier clean

How to clean your unit will vary for each brand and model, but don’t slack on this because letting it get dirty will have the opposite effect of improving your health: mould, mildew, and bacteria can develop and be dispersed into the air along with the water vapour.

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