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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dry air in winter-use a humidifier?

(Shutterstock image)

Ah, the middle of winter. Everything is freezing cold-and I mean freezing! Actually, it's below freezing here, it was -8 last night. In fact, I took the car through the car wash (since it was covered in grey frozen sludge and salt) and the door froze shut. Nice.

My house is nice and toasty warm, but with the heater on all the time, it's really dry. My lips are chapped, my skin is dry and I'm thirsty! I am tempted to buy a humidifier and run it while I am home. But humidifiers have good and bad traits.

Yes, it can help make the air moist, but it can make too much of a good thing. I was reading an article on American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology  website about allergies and humidifiers. They said if the humidifier puts too much moisture in the air, that can cause problems with dust mites. Dust mites like it when the room is humid. It can also cause problems with mold. (Where do you usually have mold problems? In bathrooms and kitchens-where there is a lot of moisture!)

I asked Asthma Doc about using a humidifier when my kids are sick. He said, "will you promise to clean the humidifier EVERY DAY and make sure there's no mold buildup?" I snorted and said, "yeah right. Just like I'm supposed to floss my teeth everyday too! Ha!" He said "if you can't scrub it every night and keep it VERY clean then don't bother using one." He said humidifiers cause more harm than good.

I went home and looked at my humidifier, and he was right. There was an orange film on the inside, yep- some type of yucky slime. I wasn't cleaning it every night. I would just refill it with water and turn it on. That is what was getting blown out into the room? Yuck! I scrubbed it out and let it dry before packing it away. It's still in the basement. I may pull it out and see if it still works. But if I use it now for the dry air, I'll make sure I scrub it out every night and let it dry before I use it again the next day.

 Until then, pass my water bottle, lotion and lip balm.

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