We use humidifiers for different reasons: they add moisture to dry air, help with congestion, sinus, and dry skin. So, it’s no wonder we have so many questions about its proper use.
Questions such as:
How do I use a humidifier in the bedroom?
What’s the best location for a humidifier in the bedroom?
How do I maintain a humidifier?
These are all good questions, and we address them all in this article.
Many factors control the location, duration, and maintenance of a humidifier. Some general rules are to place the humidifier on a nonmetallic surface about 2 ft. off the floor and never sleep with a humidifier closer than 3 ft to yourself. It’s okay to keep it on all night but make sure that the machine is thoroughly cleaned the very next day.
This answer is not a one-and-done. Other factors determine the specifics about a humidifier you may be using. The first thing that goes into play is the type of humidifier it is. So first, let’s understand the different types of humidifiers:
The Different Types of Humidifiers
There’s more than one type of humidifier. So, we first recommend knowing the type of humidifier that’s best for the problem you’re trying to solve. The most common types are:
Central humidifiers. Central humidifiers are built in the house’s heating and cooling system to humidify the entire house.
Evaporators. Evaporators use filters and fans to add moisture to the air. They’re a smaller type of humidifier and usually more affordable.
Impeller humidifiers. Impeller humidifiers, also called cool mist humidifiers, release a cool mist into the air. They work best in single rooms.
Steam vaporizers. Steam vaporizers, also called warm mist humidifiers, heat the water before releasing it into the air as a mist. They are useful in preventing flu, cold, and allergens. They’re very economical and easy to use.
Ultrasonic humidifiers. Ultrasonic humidifiers use vibrations to release moisture into the air. They are available as a warm mist or cool mist.
Factors Influencing Where to Place Your Humidifier
In placing your humidifier in the right location, here are a few things to remember:
- Ensure the location is flat, dry, and firm.
- Check the carpets or rugs regularly if they are placed near them.
- Never place a humidifier on the floor. The mist has to mix into the air, and if it’s placed too low to the floor, it doesn’t have a good chance of mixing in. The higher off the floor a humidifier is, the better it will mix.
- Avoid placing the humidifier on a wooden surface or carpet surface. Moisture can damage these surfaces.
- A humidifier is best placed on a nonmetallic surface at least two feet off the ground.
- For safety reasons, make sure there are no open or live wires near your humidifier, as water and electricity should never meet.
There are a few things that determine the best placement for a humidifier in the bedroom.
Type. The type of humidifier you have, says a lot about where to place it. For example, putting a warm mist humidifier near the bed can be dangerous because it spews out a hot mist.
Size. Unless you have a portable or compact humidifier, more thought would need to be given to placement. For instance, a portable humidifier can be set on a table or cabinet, but not so much as a larger one.
Purpose. The purpose of why you have the humidifier is an important factor. If the reason is to deal with asthma or respiratory issues, then the best placement is near the bed. However, if it’s to increase the humidity level in the room, then the placement may not be as important.
As a general rule, make sure the size of the humidifier fits your bedroom. If the size of the humidifier is not adequate for the amount of space in the bedroom, it really doesn’t matter where you place it because it will not make an impact.
If you choose a small humidifier for a spacious bedroom, the humidifier won’t be able to cover the room. Likewise, a large humidifier in a small, compact room, could be harmful to the health of your family and cause illness rather than clearing up illnesses.
Here are some tips that may help with location depending on the type of humidifier you have.
Cool Mist Humidifier
Cool Mist humidifiers will prove more effective if placed near your bed (about 3 feet). The cooling effect will not only help you sleep better, but it will also help you to breathe better because it’s removing allergens, and it will boost your immune system.
Warm Mist Humidifier
Warm mist humidifiers should only be placed near your bed if you are awake. They release hot water, which can be dangerous if you’re sleeping. If you use a warm mist humidifier at bedtime, make sure it is placed on a stable surface
Evaporators work best when aided by a fan. Therefore, it’s best to place this type of humidifier in an area where it can be coupled with a fan.
Small Humidifier/Spacious Bedroom
If you have a humidifier that’s relatively small for the size of your room, it’s best to place it close to the bed because of its size, the mist may not reach much of the room or you.
Large Humidifier/Small Bedroom
If you have a humidifier that’s relatively large for the size of your room, it’s best to place it in a corner of the room. It’s out of the way, and it’s in good positioning to provide full room coverage.
What Setting Should My Humidifier Be On?
Humidity is the level of water vapor in your room. The level of the humidity can either help or hurt your allergy symptoms depending on the humidity level. The EPA recommends keeping humidity below 60 % in the summer and between 25% and 50% in the winter. Also, dust mites die at humidity levels between 40% and 50%, so try not to let it go beyond 50%.
There are signs telling you if your humidity is too high, like if the room feels moist or the curtains and pillows feel damp. Also, condensation builds up on window and window sills if the humidity is too high.
If this happens, check the humidity and turn it down if needed. If the humidity is too high, it can affect you in the opposite way. Excessive levels of humidity can make allergy symptoms worse or even cause allergies to thrive indoors.
It is perfectly okay to use your humidifier throughout the entire night if that works for you. Not everyone can tolerate high humidity levels, so it’s best to use it to meet your body’s needs. It will keep you well moisturized throughout the night, so there’s no need to be concerned about dryness (chapped lips or dry skin).
Although the humidifier can run all night, know that it should be cleaned daily, so the next day, empty, clean and refresh, and fill with new water.
How Should I Maintain My Humidifier?
Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly to rid it of any mineral traces and to ensure no water is left to go stagnant. After all, you are breathing the air that’s coming out of it.
Failure to regularly maintain your humidifier could cause mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow inside, and this is what will be spewing out and you will breathe it in. Dirty mist can worsen any existing allergy symptoms and even cause illness.
How to Clean Your Humidifier
It’s recommended to clean your humidifier daily; however, we know that life gets in the way. So, if you’re using it daily, try to clear it at least every three days if daily is not possible. If you’re only using it a few times a week, cleaning it once a week would work.
Always clean the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s directions. If that is not available to you, here is a cleaning suggestion:
- First, unplug it.
- Remove the tank opening (you will need to put it back together, so pay attention to how you take it apart).
- Use white vinegar to clean all areas where water makes contact.
- Soak for 15 minutes.
- Fill the tank up halfway while other parts are soaking.
- Add a teaspoon of bleach and let soak for 15 minutes. (Make sure the lid is on tightly).
- Rinse all parts with tap water.
- If you don’t smell anything, this means the humidifier is clean.
- Reassemble the humidifier and replace the filter.
It’s okay to clean your humidifier with tap water, but some humidifiers, like ultrasonic humidifiers, should only be filled with distilled, demineralized, or purified water for use. For this reason, always read the manufacturer’s direction before pouring water into your humidifier. The wrong type of water can promote bacterial growth, which can lead to illness.
It’s just as bad to allow water to sit in the humidifier for days at a time between uses, regardless of what type of water it is. This can also breed bacteria.
Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning, including how often you should change the filters. Your manufacturer may make a recommendation, like every three months. But even so, you can judge by the level of mineral content in your water.
Other factors to judge by can be smoke in the home (if there’s a smoker) and pet dander (if there are any pets). So don’t hesitate if your sixth sense tells you to change the filter before the recommended time. If you detect a foul odor coming from your humidifier, chances are the filter needs to be changed, or the humidifier needs to be cleaned.