How to Prevent Mold in Your Dehumidifier and Humidifier

One of the essential elements of a healthy home is the moisture content of the air. Chances are relative humidity isn’t one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of maintaining a home that supports wellness, but in order to breath fresh, clean air we must first avoid cultivating an environment where toxins will flourish!

What is Relative Humidity?

Relative humidity defines the amount of moisture present in the air. Expressed as a percentage, this ratio describes the current amount of water vapor in a given area relative to the amount that would be present if the air were saturated. The higher the amount of moisture present in the air, the higher that percentage will be.

A great way to imagine it is to picture a steam room (not to be confused with a sauna, which uses dry heat). These spaces are packed full of steam and maintain humidity levels between 95 and 100%. That air feels thick and, well, wet, prohibiting any sweat from evaporating so it will just sit on your skin.

Meanwhile, saunas release any humidity present outside of the rooms and maintain between 5 and 20 percent humidity. With so little moisture in the air, sweat will evaporate much more quickly because it has space to go in the air.

What Is a Good Indoor Humidity Level?

While we often link the outdoors to humidity levels and comfortability, our homes also maintain their own levels of moisture-rich air.

While water in the air can impact our bodies and our health, it can also impact the state of our indoor spaces. If it’s too low, your indoor environment can become overly dry. This can affect the structural integrity of the surfaces inside (like wood “checking”) and create an ideal environment for viruses. Not to mention, it can negatively impact your health as well causing itchy eyes, dry throat/sinuses, and skin. On the other hand, if it’s too high, you run the risk of microbial and bacteria growth, dust mite proliferation, damage to surfaces, such as warped wood, and/or condensation sitting on surfaces.

That brings us to the question: what level will help avoid these problems?

Our homes should maintain a range of 30–45% relative humidity inside.

How Do You Measure Indoor Humidity?

One way to keep an eye on the relative humidity in your home is by using a device called a hydrometer. This tool will measure the amount of water vapor in the surrounding space where it’s placed and report it as a percentage. Using this instrument is a simple and effective way to monitor the health of your home.

Having the ability to measure indoor humidity in real-time is key so that you can quickly address any variations that are causing the levels to swing too high or too low. That way, you’re awakened space will remain healthy and safe.

Handy tech gadgets like a hygrometer (or multiple!) should be a staple in any healthy home. This tool will help you ensure your indoor environment is on the right track.

We recommend this hydrometer to keep up with your indoor humidity. It also provides the highs and lows throughout the day for increased monitoring as well as providing the indoor temperature.

Tools for Maintaining Indoor Humidity

The great news is that there are tools available to help you maintain the right indoor humidity levels. The two top routes are to invest in a dehumidifier or humidifier based on your moisture needs.

What is a Dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier is an inventive machine that pulls moisture from the air to decrease the indoor humidity level.

The appliance works by having a fan pull in air from the surrounding area, which then passes through a series of cooling coils. As the warmer interior air hits the cooling coils, condensation forms. This effectively pulls the moisture out of the air, reducing its relative humidity. This water gets deposited in the reservoir of the machine. The dehumidifier will then reheat that dry air by circulating it over a hot condenser so that it warms to its original temperature and is then released back into the indoor environment.

Voilà, lower indoor humidity.

Many machines have options that allow you to set a specified indoor humidity level, which will trigger the machine to turn off once the air has reached the correct percentage. This helps ensure that the air doesn’t get too dry.

We personally suggest the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier.

This powerful dehumidifier helps reduce humidity levels in large rooms up to 3,000 ft². Designed with effortless control in mind, humidity levels are easy to read and adjust, and it has Auto Shut-Off, Defrost, and Auto-Restart functions.

How to Prevent Mold in a Dehumidifier

The key to preventing mold in a dehumidifier is to keep it clean. Its job is to pull moisture out of the air, which creates opportunities for mold and bacteria to settle in and begin to grow in the machine. Staying on top of maintenance will help prevent this microbial growth from occurring so that contamination is not being released into your indoor air.

All machines are different, so make sure to check the manufacturer’s manual for their recommendations.

Again, our personal preference is the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier, so we’ll use that as an example!

Steps to clean this dehumidifier include the following:

  • Turn the dehumidifier off and remove the plug from the wall outlet
  • Use a HEPA vacuum on the air intake and outlet grilles
  • Clean the bucket with water and a mild detergent (every two weeks)
  • Clean the filter with potable water at least (once every 30 days)
  • Allow the machine to dry completely before reassembling

They provide even more information in their online manual to keep the machine in good shape.

What is a Humidifier?

Humidifiers are appliances that you can place in your home that release water vapor to increase the indoor humidity level.

The mechanisms behind how a humidifier works vary based on the particular unit. Evaporative, steam, or wick systems are a couple of examples to choose from.

Evaporative humidifiers are the most common, so we’ll go with that one. These machines have a reservoir that slowly releases water into a basin to moisten a wicking filter. A fan then pushes air through the filter, allowing some of the water to evaporate, which is then released into the room. This raises the indoor humidity level.

There are various options to choose from, including those that are self-regulating, have monitors that will turn the unit on or off to meet a specified humidity level, or are integrated into a furnace for full-house humidity control. While all can be beneficial, it’s important to ensure that they remain in good condition and support your wellness and the health of your indoor space.

We personally suggest the Carepod Humidifier, which utilizes ultrasonic cool mist to increase humidity in a room.

Invented by a doctor, this stainless steel humidifier is RoHS-compliant and FDA-approved. It can easily be disassembled and cleaned with only three parts to wash and sterilize. The humidifier also comes equipped with an automatic shut-off, which safely turns off the humidifier when the water level is low or at a pre-set time.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own Carepod humidifier, use the code AwakeningSpaces15 for 15% off your order.

How to Prevent Mold in a Humidifier

Like dehumidifiers, a humidifier’s use of water means that it can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Cleaning and staying on top of maintenance are essential to ensuring that it remains healthy and safe. That way, you’re not releasing contaminants into your indoor air.

Also like dehumidifiers, all machines are different so make sure to check the manufacturer’s manual for their recommendations.

Again, our personal preference is the Carepod Humidifier, so we’ll use that as an example.

Steps to clean this humidifier include:

  • Separate the humidifier into four parts.
  • Using a toothbrush, clean the oscillator with soap and water.
  • Clean the cover and water tank with soap and water, using a sponge, cleaning brush, or toothbrush to ensure all grooves in the cover are reached.
  • Once done with hand washing, wipe the oscillator, cover, and water tank with a microfiber towel to dry.
  • Take off the filter cover and remove the filter.
  • Rinse the filter with water and dry it with a clean microfiber towel.
  • Place the air filter back in its original spot.

They provide even more information in their online guide to help make sure the machine is in good shape.

Other Ways to Maintain Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels

Using humidifiers and dehumidifiers are great options for helping create a healthy indoor humidity level. That being said, there are other ways to help maintain this balance. Adding these steps to your awakened space home maintenance plan can keep your indoor environment in great shape.

Steps to maintain relative humidity indoors between 30-45% include:

  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture outside of the home (not into the attic!)
  • Make sure your HVAC system is operating correctly
  • Keeping windows and doors closed on rainy/hot/humid days
  • Add houseplants if levels are too low, or take them away if they remain too high
  • Consider materials and finishes with a high hygric buffering capacity
  • Ensure doors and windows are properly sealed
  • Check that the home is insulated properly
  • Turn on the AC in the summertime if levels are too high, and vice versa
  • Reduce heat in the winter if levels are too low, and vice versa

Your Balanced Home

Creating an awakened space is similar to putting together a puzzle. All of the pieces eventually come together to ensure your home supports your health and happiness. Maintaining healthy indoor humidity levels is a vital component not only for the structure of your home but also for your wellness!

Ashley Realm

Ashley · @AwakeningSpaces

Awakening Spaces is a full service interior design and consulting firm that support health conscious individuals and those who have been impacted by mold, chemicals, and EMFs create safe nurturing spaces.

Whether you’re renovating, building new, or looking to improve your existing space, we’re here to help you navigate the massive project you’re taking on by looking at your environment holistically and outlining the steps you need to take so that you can feel confident that your home is supporting your health and you can get back to your life.

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