Before buying a humidifier, it’s a good idea to learn about their pros and cons, what they can be used for and the different kinds of humidifier on offer. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about humidifiers. If you have a question that isn’t covered here, please leave a comment below.
What are the benefits of using a humidifier?
Humidifiers can increase comfort during cold winter months, or dry summer periods, as they help prevent dry skin, throat or eyes, cracked lips, bloody noses and sensitive sinuses. A humidifier will also help to prevent illness. The tiny hairs in your nose filter out bacteria and viruses and are more effective when they are kept slightly moist. In case you have a cold, a humidifier tends to ease the symptoms.
Wooden furniture, flooring, musical instruments and wallpaper are conserved better with a humidifier as it keeps the humidity level at a constant, moderate level of around 40% to 50%. To measure humidity and check it’s at the right level, you can use a hygrometer.
What are the disadvantages of humidifiers?
If your humidifier is not clean, it may have an adverse effect on comfort and health, as bacterial and mould builds up inside machine and spreads through the room when the humidifier is on. To avoid this, make sure to clean your humidifier regularly with bleach.
A humidifier could increase the humidity level by too much, causing mould build up and dust mites. Invest in a hygrometer and make sure humidity does not exceed 50%.
Do humidifiers help with allergies or asthma?
Humidifiers can help with allergies and asthma, but it is important to keep in mind a few points.
When the humidity level is too low, your sinuses and respiratory system are likely to be more irritable and allergy symptoms and asthma may get worse. A humidifier may help ease these symptoms by increasing humidity to a comfortable level.
If humidity is too high (anything above 50% humidity), dust mites will increase in numbers, as they tend to thrive in humid and warm environments. As many people are allergic to dust mites, increasing humidity too much may worsen allergy symptoms.
In case of serious allergies or asthma, make sure to speak to your physician before buying a humidifier in order to help you select the one that best fits your needs.
Are humidifiers safe?
Humidifiers are perfectly safe to use, but a few precautions need to be taken into account:
- Always make sure you clean your humidifier on a regular basis with bleach. You should clean it at least once per week or more often in order to avoid mould and bacteria build up.
- In case of a warm mist humidifier, keep children and pets out of the way to avoid burning from hot steam or water.
- Keep your humidifier unplugged and out of reach of children when not in use.
Do humidifiers warm rooms up?
Warm mist humidifiers can slightly warm up rooms, but will not be able to replace your heater. As humidity increases in a room, however, it can feel hotter as our skin sheds heat less efficiently in a humid environment.
What are the differences between warm and cool mist humidifiers?
Warm mist humidifiers boil water and emit hot steam, whereas cool mist humidifiers such as these reviewed here emit a cold mist created by ultrasonic waves. Cool mist humidifiers tend to be quieter, so are often recommended to use in the bedroom, especially for light sleepers.
Cool mist humidifiers tend to use slightly less electricity than warm mist humidifiers, so may be cheaper to run.
Both have different mechanisms to kill or filter out bacteria and viruses, so are safe to use as long as precautions are observed. Warm mist humidifiers can cause burns in case they are knocked over and the water is spilled, or if anyone puts a body part in the emitted steam. For this reason, it is best not to use them when children or pets are around.