If the air in your house is too dry, humidifiers can be real lifesavers, but if you fail to keep an eye on the humidity level, this device might become responsible for mold growth.
The best way to prevent mold in the humidifier is to thoroughly clean the device at least once a week with a special cleaning solution. To go the extra mile, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, or a humidifier tablet that will prevent mold growth.
Related: How to Prevent Mold in Window Air Conditioner
Can My Humidifier Cause Mold?
In a nutshell, yes, humidifiers can cause mold growth. To avoid such a problem, you have to regularly check the humidity level in your house.
In order to grow, mold needs oxygen and moisture. Dampness or humidity produced by humidifiers is able to supply enough moisture.
If you manage to keep the humidity level below 60% (ideally, between 30% and 50%), you won’t have mold growing in your house.
Related: What Is Proper Humidity For Your House and Why?
However, it might be challenging to keep the humidity level in that perfect range, especially, if you have a portable humidifier. A lot of devices require a person to control the amount of moisture present in the air.
Unfortunately, even the devices that come with a humidistat can’t always be trusted. The majority of built-in humidistats are quite unreliable and can be off by up to 20%.
Can a Humidifier Cause Mold in Carpet?
Yes, mold can start growing in any organic material, if there is enough oxygen and moisture. This includes insulation, wood, paper, food, and carpets.
Mold spores are usually found in the air. At one point, it would have to land somewhere, and if your floors have plenty of carpets, then the chances are high that they are going to get contaminated.
Carpeting located in basements and in damp areas (like the bathroom, for example) is at extremely high risk.
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Putting a portable humidifier right next to a carpet is also not advised, as such devices can produce water vapor that is going to ‘land’ on the carpet.
What Does Mold in Humidifier Look Like?
If there is mold growing inside your humidifier, it will end up contaminating the air you breathe.
Unfortunately, humidifiers with their water tanks and pipes are the perfect breeding ground for mold. If you fail to take proper care of the unit, mold can start forming in the device in as little as two days.
The worst part is that mold in the humidifier is not always visible.
Look inside the water tank or any other opening through which water is released from the humidifier. If you have noticed buildup or any unusual colors – then you definitely have a mold-related problem.
Fact: mold can be not only black and green, but also white, orange, and pink.
If you can’t see anything strange in the device, it doesn’t mean that there is no mold. You should also pay attention to how it smells around the humidifier.
If you have noticed a musty odor, then it looks like the unit (and, possibly, the area around it) is contaminated.
How Do I Get Rid of Black Mold in My Humidifier?
Exposure to black mold can be just as dangerous as exposure to any other type of mold. Some of the most common health concerns include headaches, changes in mood, nosebleeds, and even memory loss.
To get rid of mold in the humidifier:
- Put on rubber gloves and goggles.
- Empty the water tank and wash it with very hot water.
- Create a vinegar or chlorine bleach water mix and disinfect the device.
- Some units have a foam or fabric belt that cycles the water. Make sure to wash it with the mixture as well.
- If you have a whole-house humidifier, then you would have to get rid of any visible mold.
- Mix half a cup of bleach and around 3 gallons of very hot water in a bucket.
- Use a brush or a cloth to scrub the moldy areas (don’t forget about the front grille).
How Can Mold Be Prevented?
- Keep the humidity level in your house below 60% (below 50% is even better). The numbers can change a few times throughout the day, so you would have to measure the humidity level at least twice daily.
- Make sure that the air in the house is able to circulate freely. You can create a cross-breeze if it’s warm outside; also, use exhaust fans in the bathroom and the kitchen.
- Fix any house leaks as soon as possible. This also includes humidifier leaks – if you have noticed water under the device, turn it off, and try to fix the problem.
- Try not to use carpets in the rooms that might have a lot of moisture (basements and bathrooms). If the carpet had become wet, take it outside, so that it can dry as quickly as possible.
- Finally, use distilled water instead of tap water in your humidifier.
What Is the Best Way to Prevent Mold in Humidifier?
So, how to prevent mold in the humidifier? The best way is to clean your humidifier on a regular basis. Ideally, once a week.
Simply empty the unit of the water, rinse it with hot water and vinegar, scrub the components, and rinse the unit with hot water once again.
Tip: before reassembling the unit, leave the components on a towel so that they can air-dry completely.
How to Prevent Pink Mold in Humidifier?
If you have noticed pink mold in the unit, it means that the humidifier isn’t properly maintained.
Refill the water tank on a daily basis (even if the water looks nice and clean), thoroughly clean the filter with fresh water, and use bleach in combination with water to disinfect the humidifier.
Of course, you would have to take the device apart and clean every single component.
What Can I Put in My Humidifier to Disinfect the Air?
There are a few things that you can add to your humidifier to protect the unit from mold growth.
Related: How Do I Know If My Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned?
Do bear in mind that if you decide to follow one of the tips mentioned below, that does not mean that you wouldn’t have to clean the unit once a week.
There are special tablets that you can find in your local store or online. These little helpers help prevent lime buildup and mold growth.
Simply put one tablet in the tank together with fresh water.
There is a wide range of tablets available on the market today. They can prevent mold growth, get rid of any bacteria present in the water, and even make your unit smell amazing.
Most of the tablets dissolve in under 10 minutes. The great news is that there are options suitable for whole-house humidifiers as well.
AC safe tablets take care of the water reservoirs and the drain pans and remove a lot of odors associated with the HVAC system.
Some tablets also remove minerals from the water, so they help reduce white dust and any humidifier problems associated with mineral buildup.
Tea tree oil
This oil is a natural disinfectant that will not only prevent any mold-related problems but will also help people with various respiratory issues.
Put only a few drops in the water tank at once.
One of the cheapest options out there. Put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the humidifier to keep all sorts of bacteria down.
Is It OK to Run Vinegar Through Humidifier?
You can use white vinegar to clean the unit, but running it through the humidifier is generally not advised.
If you put too much in the unit, the vinegar might start to irritate the throat, nose, and eyes. Moreover, even a few drops can make your house smell like vinegar and you certainly don’t want that to happen, right?