With winter in full swing, there are some things we just can’t avoid and dry air is one of them. The lack of moisture in the air that comes with cold weather can wreak havoc in your home affecting your skin, allergies and even your health. Investing in a humidifier could be the answer to your woes, but it’s not as simple as picking one off the shelf. We spoke to Giulia Criscuolo, a pharmacist, complementary medicines expert and life coach, to find out more about humidifier benefits and how this little device can improve your life.
If you want to learn about the top benefits of a humidifier, plus how to use it safely and effectively, then keep on reading…
5 humidifier benefits for a happier, healthier home:
1. It helps preserve the quality of your furniture
Be it heirloom antiques or a DIY shelf made from pallets, wood adds instant warmth and comfort to any space but the problem is that it shrinks as it dries out. ‘Severe dry weather conditions may cause your favourite table to crack and split. A humidifier will help maintain the integrity of your wooden furniture for years to come,’ advises Giulia.
2. It can help improve the look and feel of your skin
‘When the air around us is very dry, it can cause the moisture on your skin to evaporate. This can leave you feeling tight, especially if you already struggle with dry skin, and even a little flaky if you have skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. A humidifier isn’t a miracle cure for any skin conditions and it certainly won’t make fine lines disappear, but it will help your skin stay moisturised and feel soft and supple,’ explains Giulia.
3. It can help you sleep better
Snoring can get worse if the air is dry, and coupled with congested nasal cavities or a dry throat, it can become unbearable for everyone. A humidifier is safe for babies, children and adults and will make sure there’s moisture in the air throughout the night. This will help improve your sleep quality as you’re less likely to wake up from a burning sensation in your throat.
4. It can help ease infections and allergies
Increasing the humidity in the air can make all the difference when you’re nursing a cold or suffering from pesky allergies. Infection-causing bacteria find it harder to travel in moist air. The added moisture will help keep the nasal cavity and sinuses hydrated and may even ease breathing if you have a respiratory tract infection. A humidifier can also be a huge help if you tend to get nosebleeds frequently.
5. It can revive your indoor plants
Hear us out… It may seem small but this benefit may have a knock-on effect. Indoor plants help lower stress levels and help you feel better at home and at work. They also absorb toxins and release fresh oxygen into the air – which, let’s face it, will leave you feeling good on the inside and outside. So if the dry weather is making the leaves of your indoor plants look a little sad, a humidifier might just breathe some new life into them… and in return you.
What’s the best choice for you?
When it comes to choosing a humidifier, you need to consider your particular health needs as well as your lifestyle. Broadly speaking, your choice will be between cool mist or warm mist, but there are also evaporators or portable mini units to choose from. Alternatively, you can invest in a central humidifier that is built into your home’s heating and cooling systems.
Warm vs Cool Mist
Warm Mist: As the name suggests, these humidifiers release warm mist into the air. This means that they are often more expensive to operate since the water needs to be boiled. These types of humidifiers are better suited to smaller spaces, like your bedroom. However, they are a hazard if you have small children because of the hot water.
Cool Mist: This type of humidifier is ideal for larger, open-plan living spaces. No heating is required so it’s budget-friendly and safe if you have little ones running around. The ultrasonic humidifiers are practically silent so you won’t even know it’s there.
Or, you can opt for a traditional fan with a humidifier function. However, this might be a better option for summer.
How long should you leave it on?
The humidity in your home should be around 30–50 %. You can measure the levels of water vapour in the air by using a device called a hygrometer. If levels rise above 50%, you may start to notice that bed sheets and curtains will start to feel damp, and this may cause mould and mildew. So, while there is no reason you cannot leave it on throughout the day or night, be sure to keep your home’s humidity levels at around 45% just to be safe. And, if you aren’t around to switch off the humidifier yourself, you can get one which will turn off automatically once the water runs out.
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Keeping it clean
Because a humidifier directly affects the air you breathe, you need to make sure it’s clean and germ-free at all times. Each unit will come with its own instructions on how to clean it and you should pay careful attention to those instructions in order to keep your humidifier in tip-top condition. Ideally, the unit should be cleaned before each use with soap and water. As bacteria and mould thrive in warm, damp places, the warm mist humidifier should be treated with a vinegar solution once a week.
Can you add essential oils to the water?
While there are humidifiers that have special compartments for essential oils, generally the answer is no. The reason is that unlike diffusers, humidifiers don’t break up the oil into particles small enough to be absorbed by the body. With warm mist humidifiers, the heat may destroy the therapeutic properties of the oils and they may also cause a greasy film to cling to your walls and furniture. Basically, if you’d like to enjoy your favourite essential oils, it may be best to invest in a diffuser.