Whether you are battling a rough cold or your life has been blindsided by nasty allergies, dry air is one thing that is always going to make these symptoms worse. This kind of air is primarily caused by lower humidity levels. According to experts, people tend to experience issues like dry eyes, irritated sinuses, and cracked lips when the levels of humidity in the air are low.
To help manage this situation, humidifiers are here! These handy devices will help remove desert dryness from your home by bringing in more moisture to the air. An increased amount of moisture can help end uncomfortable cold and allergy symptoms like sinus congestion, dry throat and a running nose. As per experienced medical practitioners, at a 40 percent humidity level most people start feeling normal and allergies are often reduced to none.
What Is A Humidifier?
A humidifier is an electrical appliance which uplifts the moisture level in a space such as a room or even an entire apartment or building. If you have a single room to humidify, you may use what are called point-of-use humidifiers. For a whole-house, you may want to use furnace humidifiers that get connected to a home’s HVAC system, allowing the entire building to absorb moisture and remove dry air.
These humidifiers are also used in medical ventilators where they increase a patient’s comfort. For humidifying air on a larger scale, there are much larger and more advanced humidifiers available on the market which often comes as part of a HVAC system. These massive humidifiers have the impact of increasing the moisture of every nook and corner in a large building. These devices are considered an essential home appliance in order to avoid allergies, dryness, and other threats.
What Does A Humidifier Do?
The primary function of a humidifier is to increase the moisture level in the air. It removes dry air from a room and adds moisture, resulting in the reduction of allergies and improving the health conditions of people living or working in the space.
As there are different types of humidifiers, each performs the same function on varying levels. However, the basic function and modus operandi of all sorts of humidifiers is the same. Starting from the basics, a humidifier leaks water vapor into the air and enhances the humidity level.
The correct use of a humidifier will help reduce dry skin, chapped lips, bleeding in the nose, dry eyes, and other irritating cold weather ailments. Humidifiers can even help reduce snoring in some people!
The humidity level of a room may decrease in winter as cold air outside gets heated indoors. This may cause humidity to drop as low as only 10 to 20 percent. Such low levels of humidity are a potential threat to the health and are likely to impact your health adversely, even leading to respiratory distress.
Aside from damaging health, a low humidity level can also cause harm to wooden furniture, books, papers and artwork in a room. Static electricity is yet another problem which may occur in a low humidity environment. Static is super annoying!
However, humidity levels may also cause danger if they cross a certain point. You should understand that the overuse of a humidifier will raise the relative humidity to excessive levels which can cause growth of dust mites, mold, and may even lead to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which occurs when the lungs become sensitive to dust, mold, and the like.
Now you may be wondering what’s considered an ideal humidity level for households. It’s usually 30% to 50% for most homes. To be sure of the humidity level in your home or office, try using a hygrostat to contain humidity levels to healthy limits.
How Does A Humidifier Work?
Before we answer this question, understand that all humidifiers have essentially the same functioning mechanism. They bring moisture into the air inside your space, which comes as a nearly invisible mist.
Despite performing the same function, humidifiers may have different ways in which they produce humidity. For example, an evaporative humidifier will use an internal fan to pull air inside the unit and then pass it to a water-saturated wick filter to help it absorb moisture. Once the air becomes saturated with the moisture, the fan then throws it out into the room’s environment and circulates it.
As stated earlier, different types have different internal structures but the basic operation is more or less same. Here we are going to describe how some of the most common humidifier types operate.
These are the type of humidifiers which make use of an ultrasonic diaphragm. They use it in place of a fan which is often installed in order to create water droplets which are then distributed into your environment.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
This is the type of ultrasonic cool mist humidifier that will distribute room temperature moisture into the room. Even though the moisture distributed is not exactly cold moisture yet, the cool mist can make your room’s temperature fall a few degrees.
If you are making a choice and feeling confused, here’s a little advice… You should consider selecting a cool mist humidifier, which remains popular for use throughout the year, even when the temperatures change.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
If you are looking to maintain a warm indoor temperature in the wintertime, then a warm mist humidifier will be the best option. They operate by boiling water to a point of vaporization. Then, the heat energy stored provides help in moving the moisturized air all over the room.
If you have in-duct humidifiers, they operate in the same fashion. They will use the forced air furnace to humidify the air.
After this, if you are still confused which humidifier should you go for; you may want to select one that offers both capabilities. There are some humidifiers, like the PureGuardian H8000B Ultrasonic Humidifier, which enable you to select whether you need a cool or warm mist operation in order to suit your preference.
How To Clean A Humidifier
This is super important! It is fairly easy to clean and maintain your humidifier. In the lines to follow, we’ll take you through necessary steps you’ll be taking to clean your equipment. However, let’s just talk about how important it is to clean it in the first place. If you don’t maintain the cleanliness of your humidifier, you are exposing yourself and your loved ones to awful risks.
Why Cleaning Humidifiers Matters
Understand that your humidifier (or even your essential oil diffuser, for that matter!) is an ideal appliance for the growth of microbes such as amoebae, mold and bacteria. This grows so naturally in your device that the issue that may arise from it has been assigned a unique name: humidifier lung or hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Humidifiers are the best device for harboring microbes and then blow them into the air in your room, leading to an immune response. In many abrupt and sudden cases, humidifier lung can create symptoms similar to an asthmatic or allergy attack. In chronic cases, however, it may even lead to permanent scarring of your lung tissue causing reduction in your lung capacity.
Infants and children are at a higher risk than adults. As the manufacturers understand the risk level, they have also taken certain steps to reduce the risk by, for example, by installing UV bulbs and antimicrobial treatments. However, the regular cleaning of your humidifier is still recommended. It’s better to be super safe than be sorry later.
Cleaning Your Humidifier
Cleaning a humidifier is a slow but important job. You can do it in parts by following a step by step procedure. First, you should know that all humidifiers are made of two basic parts: a tank for filling and keeping of water, and a lower tray or housing that facilitates flow of water to the humidifier’s mechanism. Be sure to check your appliance manual for useful guidelines on cleaning your particular device.
Taking your humidifier apart and giving the tank and tray a scrub and rinsing with plain water is a good practice. You should do this once a week. If there’s limescale, wiping the tank and tray with white vinegar will help you get rid of it. However, if the limescale or mold is tough, let it soak in for 20 minutes and then do a scrubbing using a sponge or brush. Once you are done, you need to rinse both the tank and tray with fresh water.
By physically scrubbing the tank and tray surface, you can remove microbes, however for a complete disinfection, you can also try using a mild bleach solution on the tank and tray. All you will need to do is fill both parts with the solution and soak them in it for half an hour. Afterwards, discard the solution and rinse everything thoroughly under fresh water.
Be very cautious not to use bleach or detergents on the wick of an evaporative humidifier because they have the potential to harm any antimicrobial finishes which the manufacturer may have installed. The better solution is to instead soak the wick for 20 minutes in clean water and then swish it to dislodge any mineral buildup.
When it comes to scrubbing, the Honeywell HCM-350 and Levoit LV600HH are believed to be the friendliest and best humidifiers. That’s because they come with fill holes big enough to let even a large adult male pass his whole hand through. On the other hand, there are certain humidifiers with holes so small that they’d hardly allow you a weak rinse. Purchasing one that’s easy to clean is important!
Also, you should beware of the quality of the water used for cleaning. If your water is coming from a municipal supply source, then such a supply contains dissolved iron oxide coming from the pipes. It may be harmless both for you and your regular appliances but, for the humidifier, it may leave stains. These stains are orange brown and can’t be removed. So, if you have a humidifier showing ruddy streaks after you’ve both soaked and scrubbed it, know that this is the likely reason.
Additional Steps For Cleaning Of Evaporative Humidifiers
If you are using an evaporative humidifier, here are some additional steps for you. Other than the tank and tray, evaporative humidifiers come with two additional components. There’s a wick or filter which is made out of a fibrous mesh whose job is to soak water and help it evaporate; secondly, there’s a fan which allows air to be drawn across the wick.
The wick usually has a big surface area which becomes a potential breeding ground for microbes. That is the reason most manufacturers protect it with an antimicrobial finish. If you are looking to clean a wick, it is recommended that you soak it in clean water for 20 minutes and then swish it in order to dislodge any mineral buildup. At this point, you must exercise one great caution that the wick does not get exposed to bleach or detergents that will endanger the antimicrobial finish installed by the manufacturer.
There are some people who usually prefer using both wicks in rotation. That way, they can change one wick for another for weekly cleaning, allowing the previous wick to completely dry. It is a fairly harmless method. Microbes usually breed in moist environments and therefore you should keep a check at their growth while drying out a wick.
There’s a quicker way to dry out the wick as well. Run the humidifier on an empty wick, with no water in the tank, for an hour or so. This will quickly dry out the wick without harming the device at all.
An evaporative humidifier also comes with a fan. And just like any other fan, it can pick up dust and lint with the passage of time. Even the most advanced of the humidifiers doesn’t allow an immediate access to the fan for cleaning purposes. However, you can safely pull off the humidifier’s grill using a pair of pliers, wipe down the blades of the fan with the help of a damp cloth, and reinstall the grill without causing any damage.
And finally, when you are about to put a humidifier in storage for the entire season, like during the humid summer months, you should clean it one last time and allow each and every component to completely dry. If the device has a wick, you should remove it before storing.
If you are taking the device out of storage for the season, cleaning it again is a better option before putting the humidifier into operation.
11 Best Humidifiers In 2019
Having discussed humidifiers, their use, and cleaning methods, let’s now proceed to discovering the most useful and beneficial humidifiers for use in 2019. However, remember that this list is not at all exhaustive. Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments if we missed a great one!
Vicks Mini Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier Small Humidifier for Bedrooms
This comes in a mini size and doesn’t require replacement filters. It’s compact and lightweight, but effective enough to make it to the top of this list! With its half-gallon tank, it can give you up to 20 hours of soothing mist. This humidifier helps bring cool moisture into the air of any bedroom, living room, or office space. For this reason, it becomes a perfect humidifier for all rooms of the home or office, and it’s quite essential for a good night’s sleep when the air is dry.
When you or your kids are suffering from a cold, it can be difficult to sleep through the night. Humidifiers and vaporizers provide temporary relief from coughing and congestion, so your rest won’t be as disturbed by coughing fits. Steam and humidity offer temporary relief from cough, which may be caused by colds or allergies. Vicks line of humidifiers helps you breathe easier, whether you are in your bedroom or in the office. This humidifier even has benefits for those with dry eyes due to their environment.
Honeywell Cool Moisture Console Humidifier
This is best used as a multi-room cool mist humidifier for those who have large rooms. You may want to consider this humidifier if you wish to bring moisture to your whole house or a large space. This one comes with a 3 gallon tank and easy fill humidifier console along with a humidistat and an auto shut off, which helps maintain humidity levels in the room.
Filtered cool moisture is also a feature of this humidifier. There is an evaporative technology which provides help in adding moisture from a wicking filter, helping it evaporate into the air quickly. The best benefit it offers is prevention of over-humidification of the room because the evaporative technology does not allow it. If the humidity levels in your home are between 40-60 percent, then you will be able to breathe more comfortably, enjoy adequate sleep, and notice prevention of nasal congestion and dry skin. This humidifier is suitable for both adults and children.
Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
This is one of the most famous and widely popular types of humidifiers and it offers the following benefits. It comes with a removable 1 gallon tank, which can fit under the majority of bathroom sinks and then can be easily filled. With this, the humidifier runs whisper quiet for almost a day without needing to refill.
The best part about this humidifier is its incredible cleaning control. The device comes with an antimicrobial material that reduces mold and bacteria growth by up to 99.96 percent. It moisturizes a big space of up to 500 square feet and ensures you get an amazing good night’s sleep.
The device also comes with an auto shut-off sensor which allows it to automatically turn off when the level of water is fairly low. Its voltage is perfect enough for domestic use. All you will need to do is make sure that the device is kept on a flat and water-free surface and at least three feet above the ground.
Dyson AM10 Humidifier
This humidifier is available in dual colors, such as white and silver. In addition, it offers dual functionality features. Using its ultraviolet cleansing technology, a Dyson humidifier can kill 99.9% of bacteria before they cause any issues. It has received a certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America that the device is friendly for use with asthma and allergy patients, and it has received awards and recognitions from several other organizations.
You get a parented air multiplier technology with a Dyson humidifier, which generates long-range mist projection for the distribution of hydrated and hygienic air evenly in the entire space. Intelligent climate control is yet another feature of this appliance. It makes use of intelligent climate control technology to take measurement of the temperature and moisture inside the room in order to create a comfortable environment with no risk for over-humidification.
Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier
Before you opt for this, remember that this humidifier may require you to purchase air ducts separately. However, you can purchase an Aprilaire house steam humidifier with confidence as it has been designed with the latest electrode technology with manufacturing in the U.S. This humidifier gives you complete coverage of an area up to 6200 square feet in closely built homes. This would be an ideal device for homes situated in arid and desert climates.
There is no requirement to use purified water as the electrode technology built into the humidifier works fine on impure water in order to help transfer the electricity. We don’t recommend water filtration with this appliance, which reduces its installation and maintenance costs.
With this humidifier, you can effectively maintain the best humidity level for your home around 35 to 45 percent. This level is proven to minimize the incidence of numerous respiratory infections and it also reduces the symptoms related to allergies and asthma by minimizing the growth of bacteria.
Vicks Filter-Free 1.2 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier
As implied and suggested by the name, this humidifier doesn’t require a filter. It has a 1.2 gallon water tank which can provide up to 30 hours of soothing mist. This type of humidifier is considered ideal for adults and babies as it releases moisture into the air of the room, which ensures that everyone inside gets a good night’s sleep. If you need a slightly larger version than our #1 pick above, this is the humidifier for you.
Air Innovations Humidifier
Unlike other humidifiers, this is available in a red color which can be fun for bedrooms and other jazzed up living spaces. It is capable of moisturizing the air for up to 96 continuous hours. It’s adequately sized water tank provides ideal coverage for bedrooms and other small to large rooms for up to 600 square feet. The appliance also comes with a built in programmable humidistat that is capable of automatically monitoring the humidity levels you set it at. Love it!
Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier
The device is a cool mist humidifier which adds cool air to the environment with this quiet appliance. Its evaporative technology blows moisture off of the wicking filter which enables it to evaporate into the air in no time.
A Honeywell humidifier maintains the humidity levels inside your space between 40 to 60 percent, making the air feel warmer and enhancing your breathing comfort. Honeywell is also a well-known brand, so they can be trusted to provide a superior product.
Crane Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifiers for Kids
This is a unique humidifier made especially for kids’ environments, and it comes in tons of different styles. It comes with an ultrasonic cool mist to make air smooth and allergy-free. For domestic use, particularly in your child’s bedroom, it has an auto-off function when the water tank becomes empty. Your child will love choosing their very own humidifier to use in their room!
Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier
This humidifier comes with an evaporation capacity of 0.75 gallons per hour and the device can successfully humidify a tightly constructed home of up to 4200 square foot in size. The added benefit is that the device has automatic digital humidifier control. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty humidifier, this might be it.
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
This humidifier has an essential oil tray for you to feature your favorite essential oils, which we think is a neat feature. The fan then circulates the oils into a mist giving you a clean, pure and fresh smelling aroma. Perfect for children, infants, teens, dorm rooms, living rooms, office, desk, tabletop, nightstand, nursery, or babies’ bedroom for a full night of sleep. A blue LED nightlight is also a plus, and we love the look of this humidifier. This device is fully capable of reducing airborne bacteria and viruses as well.
Do you have a favorite humidifier? Has it helped you find relief for your allergies, colds, or dry eyes? Let us know in the comments!