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 Humidifiers: Helpful or Harmful? 
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Post Humidifiers: Helpful or Harmful?
Humidifiers: Helpful or Harmful?
by: Yelena Gertsenova

When winter rolls around, everyone breaks out their humidifiers to counter the dry air—but could you be causing bigger, more dangerous problems for you and your family? Humidifiers are great at returning moisture to dry household air, making breathing easier and preventing dry skin. And for those of us who suffer from chronic breathing problems, having a humidifier at your bedside can be what you need to wake up feeling fresh. They can help with dehydration in general, preventing joint pain, dry, scratchy throats and sore eyes. Additionally, higher levels of hydration in the body contribute to improved immune system function.

It is truly amazing how much heaters can dry out your home! In the winter, your home is losing moisture to the point where its relative humidity could drop to five percent. Comparatively, typical humidity in the Sahara Desert is about 25 percent. Optimum comfort for your family can typically be found around 40 to 55 percent relative humidity.

Problems only arise when the humidifier is not properly cleaned and maintained. They can turn into breeding grounds for bacterial and fungi if these pests are allowed to grow. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has certain recommendations that all humidifier owners should follow to ensure that you reap the benefits of the your equipment—and none of the negatives.

Change the water daily. This does not mean simply adding more water—you need to completely empty and dry out the tank. The standing water can allow things to grow on the sides of the tank or in the water itself. Make sure that you are mostly using distilled or de-mineralized water, as well, as tap water contains minerals that can lead to bacterial growth. It can also have other impurities that will be left in your humidifier when the water evaporates. To use tap water, you will have to run it through a filter system.

Clean the humidifier as often as you can. Use chemicals to disinfect, rinse thoroughly and dry it out completely when you are finished. Consider using bleach or three percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Don’t forget to wash the sponge filters and belts as well.

Keep your humidifier at between 30 and 50 percent humidity. This is what is most comfortable for you and your family. Additionally, a higher humidity level will cause a buildup of condensation, which could allow bacteria and fungi to grow elsewhere in your home, causing disease.

If not properly maintained, your humidifier could cause what is known as “humidifier fever”. It is a flu-like sickness, causing fever, headache, chills, myalgia and malaise. It can last up to 24 hours, and is caused by exposure to amoebae, bacteria and fungi growing in humidifier reservoirs, air conditions and aquariums. If one person in a location gets it, sometimes up to 25 percent of other inhabitants can be struck with it. The only effective method to ensure this does not happen is regular cleaning and disinfection. If your household includes elderly or young children and infants you need to be especially rigorous in your cleaning schedule.

Cleaning and maintaining humidifiers is worth the extra effort, as their benefits can greatly outweigh their negatives. If you maintain your humidifier properly, you will surely benefit from its presence.

Learn more useful health and cleaning tips for your home at Denver Cleaning Service website, just look for the blog link to read our posts.

About The Author
Born and raised in Ukraine, Yelena Gertsenova practiced pediatric medicine (specializing in allergy treatment) for 17 years. It was during that time that Yelena saw a clear connection between the cleanliness of one's surroundings and one's health. It was with that thought in mind that Yelena started a Denver cleaning company in 2002 after having moved to the States. Yelena has been publishing articles related to home cleaning for over 3 years and recently Yelena started a blog dedicated to healthy cleaning practices, which can be found at
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Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:11 pm
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