Are cool mist humidifiers safe? We all know cool mist humidifiers can work wonders for people with excessively dry skin, and they have also been known to improve situations for people with dry eyes, sore throats, chapped skin, and cold and flu symptoms, among other things. However, there is some debate about the safety of certain humidifiers, and most concerns revolve around children.
The short answer is that cool mist humidifiers are typically safe when used in the correct way, and they can actually be safer than other humidifiers because of how they operate. The main thing that you need to worry about when it comes to cool mist humidifiers is cleanliness, but it also helps to understand the various types of humidifiers and what sets them apart.
There are different types of humidifiers, some of which are stand-alone devices, while others can be placed directly into your HVAC system. The three most common types of in-room humidifiers include the following:
- Steam-Based: Steam-based humidifiers are the oldest types of humidifiers, and they work by boiling water to emit steam into a room.
- Evaporative: Evaporative humidifiers run room temperature water through a wet wick, which, in turn, evaporates it into the air.
- Ultrasonic: Cool mist humidifiers are typically ultrasonic, and through a high-frequency vibration, they create a fine mist that gets expelled into the air.
The Dangers of the Steam-Based Humidifier
When people discuss the dangers of humidifiers, one of the things that gets mentioned are the potential dangers of the steam-based humidifier, especially when discussing children. The reason is that steam-based humidifiers boil water, which means that the mist coming out of the humidifier is particularly warm. But, it also means that the humidifier itself is extremely warm, and the fear is that children may get burned by messing with the humidifier or by playing too close to it.
Cool mist humidifiers are entirely different from steam-based humidifiers, and with the cool-mist machines, burning is not a concern.
The Benefits of the Cool Mist Humidifier
In general, humidifiers can be beneficial for people suffering from everything from dry skin and eyes to asthma and allergies. They can mitigate symptoms of the cold and flu, and there are some other health benefits associated with humidifiers. However, cool mist humidifiers, specifically, boast a few different benefits that other humidifiers can’t produce, and they include the following:
- Cool mist humidifiers tend to cost less than their counterparts.
- Cool mist humidifiers are also more portable than other humidifiers, some of which are made specifically for portability.
- Cool mist humidifiers do not boil water, so they have no burn risk, making them safer for children.
- There are more options available with cool mist humidifiers, including evaporation, acoustic vaporization, and impeller disk machines.
- Cool mist humidifiers use less electricity.
While cool mist humidifiers are mostly safe because they don’t use boiling water, there are some other things that can put users at risk.
When Are Cool Mist Humidifiers Unsafe?
In short, cool mist humidifiers are unsafe when they are unclean.
While other humidifiers use heating elements that can help sterilize the water, cool mist humidifiers are at a greater risk for bacteria and even mold. If uncleaned, these bacteria remain inside of the humidifier’s tank and eventually get propelled into the room, exposing people to these harmful particulates that they will wind up inhaling.
The type of water that you put into your humidifier can also make a difference. Some water contains more minerals than others, and things such as hard water can create scale inside of the machine.
One other risk that applies to all humidifiers is creating too much indoor humidity. While a little bit more moisture may benefit the skin or one’s allergies, too much moisture can create suitable conditions for mold, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites.
How to Operate Your Cool Mist Humidifier Safely
Taking proper care of your humidifier will not only protect you and your home, but it will also extend the life of your humidifier and ensure that there are no negative impacts as a result of dirtiness. When using and cleaning your humidifier, it’s important to keep all of the following in mind.
Placement: Even if you are using a cool mist humidifier, you still don’t want anyone knocking it over or tripping over the power cord. It’s still wise to keep it out of a child’s reach. Typically, you want to place your humidifier on a waterproof surface or towel about three feet or higher off of the ground. You should also keep the cord out of the way as much as you can. Since the humidifiers are propelling mist, you want to point them in a direction that is away from power outlets and other appliances that might get sprayed.
Water Type: For starters, it’s important that you put cold water in your humidifier, especially if you are using water out of the faucet. Hot water tends to contain more minerals, and mineral deposits create perfect conditions for bacteria growth. You should also use distilled water or demineralized water for that reason. These water types contain fewer minerals and will, therefore, be less damaging to the humidifier and the air in the room.
What Is White Dust?
“White dust” is a term that people sometimes use to describe minerals from the water that have been projected from the humidifier and can be seen floating around in the air. While these aren’t particularly dangerous, there is some evidence to support that inhaling white dust too frequently can cause lung issues in children. Excessive build up can also be damaging to your furniture, and if you see white dust, it’s often advised to clean your machine and use different water.
How to Properly Clean Your Cool Mist Humidifier
The best way to stay safe is to keep your humidifier clean, and while the process is simple, it needs to be done frequently. Cleaning consists of the following:
- Emptying and refilling daily (after first unplugging the device)
- Cleaning as recommended by the manufacturer or with soap and water.
- Avoiding chemicals
- Thorough rinsing
- Emptying and drying tank when not in use
So, cool mist humidifiers are generally safe as can be if you use them correctly, keep them clean, and use the right water.