While a humidifier is essential for any baby’s nursery, it doesn’t mean you can simply plug it in and forget about it. Humidifiers require constant upkeep, including cleaning it and regularly changing the filter or demineralization cartridge, if applicable. On top of that, there are some things you should know about humidifiers and proper usage in order to make sure that they’re always running safely. Even the best humidifier needs to be used properly, and needs to be cleaned on a regular basis!
Could the Water I Use Be Dangerous?
Most tap water contains certain minerals. This is true of any water, and most of the time there is no harm in drinking it. However, using tap water in a humidifier will cause it to send these minerals into the air. While there are no reports that these minerals will do any harm, some people still prefer to use distilled water in their humidifiers. Some people find that using tap water in their humidifiers results in a fine, white dust accumulating on objects in the home. One study released in 2011 related a serious respiratory infection in an infant to this fine white dust. While this is the only reported case, it’s definitely something worth thinking about.
The minerals in tap water can also accumulate inside of the humidifier in a crusty deposit or scale. This scale can unfortunately be a breeding ground for microorganisms and bacteria. If you choose to use tap water in your humidifier, be sure to make an extra effort in always keeping it clean.
If you find that your tap water is leaving a white dust in your home, or wish to minimize your baby’s exposure to minerals in the air, choosing to use only distilled water is an option. If you choose to go this route, be sure that the water you purchase is labelled distilled. Many bottled waters do not go through a complete demineralization process.
Demineralization Cartridges as an Alternative to Distilled Water
Some humidifiers allow for the use of cartridges or filters that remove the minerals from the water. However, since there are many different types of humidifiers and filters, there is no guarantee that they will adequately filter all of the minerals from the water. If you notice the aforementioned white dust in your home, that will indicate that your filters are not removing the minerals.
If you live in the country or other area where the concentration of minerals in the water is high, it will probably be more economical to use distilled water rather than cartridges or filters.
Be Sure To Keep Your Humidifier Clean
While a good baby humidifier will help keep them healthy, especially if you only use distilled or demineralized water in it, that is only true if the humidifier stays clean. An unclean humidifier can actually be worse than having no humidifier at all; bacteria and fungi thrive in the tanks of humidifiers, and then when you use the humidifier, it sends it into the air.
Cleaning the Humidifier: How To Do It
You should try to clean the humidifier at least every three days. Of course, make sure you unplug it before you try to clean it. Remove any removable parts of the humidifier and clean it out using either a bleach, a disinfectant, or a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. The manual of your particular humidifier will probably have suggestions from the manufacturer regarding what to use and how to properly clean it.
Remember: always rinse and clean the tank out with water after using harmful chemicals to clean it. Any chemical left inside the humidifier will soon become airborne as soon as you turn it on again.
Change the Water Often
You should change the water in the humidifier and dry it out completely as often as possible. If you can do it every day, that would be optimal. If you don’t change the water out, it promotes the growth of bacteria.
Change the Filter Often
If your humidifier has a filter, be sure to change it often. Depending on your water, you might have to change it more often than the manufacturer suggests, especially if it looks dirty. Again, the manual for your humidifier will probably give manufacturer’s suggestions regarding how often the filter should be changed.
It is absolutely vital to keep your baby humidifier clean! A humidifier will do a lot to help make your baby’s nursery more comfortable for him or her, prevent illnesses, and generally promote good health, but only if you keep it clean and working properly!
A little effort goes a long way, and it’s much better to maintain your humidifier every day than find out that what you thought was doing a lot of good was actually making people sick!
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