Excess moisture is often a bad thing. In your home, moisture can lead to mold, mildew, and health problems but lack of moisture can be just as problematic. Dry indoor air can lead to dry sinuses, cracked lips, and bloody noses. How do you fix it? Invest in a humidifier and furthermore use the best water for humidifiers.
A humidifier is a device that releases water vapor into the air to maintain optimal humidity levels. Be careful, however, because these devices can harbor mold and bacteria if not properly maintained. Even with proper maintenance, some humidifiers are better than others – see our best humidifiers list to avoid making a bad purchase.
Here’s what you need to know about how humidifiers work and what kind of water to use in them.
Can You Put Tap Water in a Humidifier?
All you really need to run a humidifier is water and an electrical outlet. But what kind of water is best for a humidifier? Does regular tap water work? Yes, you can use tap water in a humidifier, but it isn’t the best option – for you or for the humidifier.
Most tap water contains trace minerals like sodium, magnesium, and calcium which support healthy bodily function and improve the taste. If you use tap water in a humidifier, however, it can leave mineral deposits behind as the water evaporates. Over time, those minerals build up in the tank and filter, clogging the machine and affecting its function.
It’s also worth noting that tap water often contains contaminants like bacteria and other pathogens – things you don’t want to breathe.
What’s the best water for humidifiers?
If tap water isn’t the best choice for a humidifier, what is? There are a few other options.
Distilled water is the best option for humidifiers, by and large. Because it has already been boiled, distilled water is very clean. It doesn’t contain all those nasty bacteria and other microbes and it’s free from the minerals that can create deposits.
Purified water is another option. While distilled water is steam-condensed, purified water is filtered through processes like ion exchange or reverse osmosis. It doesn’t contain any minerals or impurities which makes it safe for use in humidifiers.
Demineralized water is water that goes through the deionization process to remove contaminants. As a result, this water is free from both minerals and impurities. It may not be quite as pure as distilled water, but it could still be a good option for your humidifier.
Now, what shouldn’t you use in your humidifier?
Bottled water might seem like a good alternative to distilled or purified water. After all, if it’s safe to drink it must be okay for other uses, right? Not exactly. Bottled water still contains a lot of minerals and some studies suggest it even contains more bacteria than tap water.
If bottled water doesn’t work, what about boiled water? Again, boiled water is a little better than plain tap water in that you might get rid of the bacteria and other microbes. The problem is boiling doesn’t do anything about those pesky minerals.
How Does a Humidifier Work?
The term humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. Low humidity levels can cause dry skin while high humidity can trigger respiratory problems due to dust mites, mold, and bacteria. The ideal humidity level for most homes is between 30% and 50%.
There are different kinds of humidifiers, but the most common is the evaporative humidifier. These devices consist of a reservoir that holds cold water and a wicking filter that absorbs water. A fan blows air over the moistened filter, causing the water to evaporate into the air.
Steam humidifiers or vaporizers boil water and release the steam into the room. Ultrasonic humidifiers use a metal diaphragm which vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency, creating water droplets that are released into the air.
Maintenance Tips for Humidifiers
Even if you use the right water in your humidifier, it can still get dirty over time. Regular cleaning is essential not only for the function of the machine, but for your own health and wellbeing. As a general rule, it’s best to rinse out and dry the humidifier every day before you use it. You may also want to perform a more thorough cleaning twice a week.
To clean your humidifier, empty the water basin and rinse it with soap and water. Make sure the basin is completely dry before you replace the water. For a deeper clean, consider using a water and vinegar solution or water and hydrogen peroxide. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how often to clean the machine and what to use. It will also tell you how often to replace the filter.
Here are some additional maintenance tips for humidifiers:
- Rinse out the water basin and let it dry on a daily basis before use.
- Deeply clean and thoroughly dry the humidifier before storing it for long periods of time.
- Regularly check the area around the humidifier for dampness and adjust the humidity level if needed.
- Keep the humidity level below 50% in your home to prevent bacteria and mold development.
- Stop using the humidifier if you experience breathing issues at any time.
- Replace your humidifier if it develops mold that won’t go away with heavy cleaning.
Regular use of a humidifier can keep your skin moisturized and may help prevent various health problems. With proper maintenance – including using the right water – a humidifier can last you a long time.
Best Water for Humidifiers FAQs
What is the best water to use in a humidifier?
The best water for a humidifier is distilled water. Distilled water is very clean – it doesn’t contain any minerals or impurities. Purified water and demineralized water are two other viable options.
Is it better to use distilled water in a humidifier?
Yes, distilled water is the best option for humidifiers because it doesn’t contain harmful contaminants or minerals that might leave deposits in the tank or filter.
Can I use bottled water in a humidifier?
You could, but it really isn’t the best option. Bottled water still contains minerals that can leave deposits behind and it may actually contain more bacteria than tap water.
Do humidifiers help with congestion?
A humidifier can help with congestion by softening discharge. Congestion happens if the air you breathe is too dry, preventing the mucus in your nose from flowing correctly. When the mucus doesn’t flow, it doesn’t drain as it should. It can cause pain, discomfort, difficulty breathing, and eventually sinusitis – a painful tissue swelling.