The Dangers of a Dirty Humidifier

Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies, asthma, or you simply cannot stand the sore throat that's associated with the dry heat from your vents, a humidifier can be a blessing. Dry air can pose a variety of problems ranging from dry nasal and throat passages to even asthma attacks. Humidifiers can balance the aridness of your home or room by forcing moisture into the air.

Despite its benefits, there may be danger lurking in your humidifier. Because the appliance relies on water vapor, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers can potentially transport toxic mist. The CPSC also warns that dirty humidifiers can cause flu-like symptoms and lung infection. Sufferers of allergies and asthma may experience worsened symptoms.

So what can you do to reap the benefits of keeping the air quality of your room balanced without the risk? Follow these tips as suggested by the CPSC:

  1. If a film begins to develop in your humidifier, remove water and clean it.
  2. Change the water in your humidifier daily.
  3. Clean the humidifier every three days.
  4. Use distilled water to avoid buildup of minerals and the release of dust.
  5. Maintain a humidity level in your home between 30 and 50 percent. Levels above that foster an environment where bacteria and mold can grow.
  6. Prepare your humidifier for storage. Clean the humidifier before and after storing it away for the warm months.

Combat Dryness Before It Occurs

Are humidifiers too much effort to maintain? Looking for an alternative to seasonal dryness? Try the following:

  • Drink more fluids including water, low-sodium broth, and juice. This will help counteract the drying effects of the cold weather months.
  • Use a neti-pot, or nasal irrigation, to combat dry nasal passages.
  • Lower the heat in the shower. Overly hot showers can actually dehydrate your skin. Instead, shower in warm water and use mild soaps.
  • Utilize skin creams right after showering to moisturize skin and lips.




U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Dirty Humidifiers May Cause Health Problems 

Indoor Air Facts No. 8:  Use and Care of Home Humidifiers