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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!


submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the January 8, 2006 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Humidifiers are commonly used around the home to relieve the physical discomforts of dry nose, throat, lips and skin. They add moisture to the air to help alleviate common nuisances brought on by winter heating.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following information for use and care of humidifiers.

A humidifier should be used only when conditions require it, with the correct moisture setting for existing conditions and thorough regular cleaning.

Empty the tank, wipe all surfaces dry and refill the water in portable humidifiers daily to reduce any growth of microorganisms. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for changing water in console humidifiers. Be sure you unplug the unit from the electrical socket first.

Use water with low mineral content to prevent the build-up of scale and the dispersal of minerals into the air.

Clean portable humidifiers every third day. Empty the tank and use a brush or other scrubber to clean it. Remove any scale, deposits or film forming on the sides of the tank or on the interior surfaces and wipe all surfaces dry.

Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on the use of cleaning products or disinfectants. In the absence of specific recommendations, clean all surfaces contacting water with a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide. If you use any cleaning or disinfecting agent, rinse the tank thoroughly with several changes of tap water to prevent dispersal of chemicals into the air during use.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning and maintaining console and central (furnace mounted) humidifiers. In particular, if the humidifier contains a tank, do not allow water to stand in the tank for extended periods of time and keep the water clean.

Do not humidify if indoor relative humidity levels exceeds 50 percent. High humidity levels may encourage the growth of biological organisms in the home.

Do not permit the area around the humidifier to become damp or wet. If dampness occurs, turn down the output volume on the humidifier or use the humidifier intermittently.

Stop using your humidifier and contact your physician if you have respiratory symptoms which you believe are associated with periods of use of your home humidifier, even if you are following maintenance directions.

Humidifiers are helpful in reducing problems caused due to winter heating, but caution needs to be taken so growth of biological organisms in the home is not encouraged.

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