It’s that time of year again! The furnace is working overtime and I can almost hear my poor hair, skin and nails starting to dry and crack! It’s going to be a looooooooong winter!!
Luckily we have an ally in the fight against dryness at our house….our trusty humidifier!
- A humidifier helps relieve cold, cough, the flu, allergy, sinusitis, nose bleeding, and hay fever symptoms.
- It relieves and prevents dry, scratchy skin and lips.
- It reduces static electricity.
- It improves the air quality at home, which is beneficial for asthma sufferers.
- A humidifier helps keep air hydrated which promotes a feeling of comfort in the home.
- And last….but certainly not least…..it helps babies sleep peacefully. (And that’s worth a LOT!)
But as beneficial as a humidifier can be in your home….if it’s not properly cleaned and cared for, it can actually be detrimental to your health and well-being. Bacteria and mold can grow in the tanks and then get into the air through the mist, so cleaning your humidifier is extremely important.
I’ve received several requests recently from people wondering how to best CLEAN the “gunk” out of their humidifiers...so here are some general tips to help keep your home’s humidifier in healthy, working order:
Always refer to the cleaning instructions for any appliance that are provided by the manufacturer.
- Empty and refill the humidifier with clean distilled water every day. This will keep mineral deposits (ie. “gunk”) from building up in the machine, and will also keep minerals from being spread in the air.
- Clean and disinfect your humidifier at least once a week.
- Unplug your humidifier. Remove the filter and rinse with cool water underneath the faucet. You never want to use any kind of cleaning solutions on humidifier filters because chemicals can cause permanent damage. Set the clean filter on a towel and let any excess water drip off.
- Remove the water tank. Pour a generous amount of undiluted white vinegar in to the base of your humidifier and let sit for 30 minutes. Swish the solution around the container making sure that it coats the entire base. Then remove any residue or build-up by gently scrubbing with the soft bristle brush. Repeat the scrubbing process a second time on areas that need it. Rinse THOROUGHLY.
- Once you have cleaned the humidifier, you should disinfect it by filling the water tank with clean water and adding one teaspoon of bleach to every gallon of water. Or, if you prefer, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide instead. Gently swish the solution to coat the tank evenly, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Rinse THOROUGHLY.
- Put the humidifier back together, fill the tank with cool water and resume regular use.
- Optional: I like to add 2 to 3 drops of citrus essential oil (lemon, wild orange, tangerine, or grapefruit work well!) to every refill to kill bacteria. Pure citrus EOs are antibacterial. (Caution: essential oils can etch the inside of the plastic water tank. I haven’t ever noticed it by using just a couple of drops, but it is possible.)
FYI…indoor humidity levels should ideally be between 30 and 50 percent. Most homes heated to 73 degrees can have a relative humidity of just 15%! In comparison, the typical humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%!
So get that trusty home humidifier out….give it a good cleaning….and start using it!
Your home and your health will thank you!