With the temperatures diving into the teens and single digits this week, your heating source is bound to get a workout as you try to stay warm in your home. Having an infant in the home has changed our tolerance for temperature more towards “warmer than usual” so I know for a fact our furnace has been putting in extra time this winter. If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed how dry your home has become because of the heat usage this winter. You may have a sore throat, dry skin, a cold, and/or worsened allergy and asthma symptoms. Another telltale sign your home is too dry: static electricity. As if the effects of motherhood on a new mom haven’t wreaked enough havoc on my appearance (note the dark circles), static hair has also made it’s way into my life. Your home itself can suffer from the dry air, also (and it can certainly suffer from new motherhood!) You may notice gaps in the seams of your hardwood flooring, or your houseplants may appear limp. But fear not, there is a solution!
A common solution to a dry air problem is using a humidifier to restore the humidity levels back to a happy medium. And this past week, we heeded all of the signs that told us we, and our home, were suffering from a winter dry air problem. The first day we used the humidifier, we slowly started feeling better. Sore throats subsided, chapped lips started healing, and stuffy noses started to clear. Our main concern was for our 5 month old daughter’s health as we heard how stuffy she had become in the past two weeks.
By the third day of using the humidifier, the thought occurred to me that too much humidity could also be harmful. As a new mom, my fears of harm are at an all-time high, which I am sure many of you can relate to firsthand. My first line of defense is always to research information, albeit good or bad for my heightened sense of harm. This situation was no different so on to Google I went.
In my attempts to find the happy humidity medium, I started researching humidifiers. My findings confirmed my concern of too much humidity. Having an environment that is too humid breeds mold and dust mites, both of which are not only terrible for allergy and asthma sufferers, but also for overall health. What I didn’t expect to find was that humidifiers can actually cause respiratory issues and illness especially in young children. If you’re wondering how quickly I unplugged the humidifier, you would be correct to guess less than five minutes after reading that information.
A humidifier that is not properly cleaned on a very regular basis (every day according to some sources), will spray bacteria and mold that forms in the water inside the humidifier into the air for all to breathe, not to mention on the surfaces all around the humidifier. This information sounded far scarier to me than a stuffy nose for our daughter. I felt it important to share my findings with others as I anticipated a lot of other families using a humidifier for the same reasons we were.
The best way to keep your home at the happy humidity medium while not increasing the chances of illness and/or respiratory problems, is to be diligent in cleaning your humidifier and checking the humidity levels in your home. Since there are four main types of humidifiers, it is best that you find out which one you have and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and maintenance to ensure that you are creating the healthiest home environment while using your humidifier. However, a few common pieces of advice include using demineralized or distilled water inside the humidifier. Using tap water in a humidifier will create deposits which are a breeding ground for bacteria. Subsequently, this bacteria will be sprayed out of the humidifier with the mist creating a recipe for health hazards. Another piece of advice is changing the water often and after cleaning the humidifier, wiping the inside of the humidifier dry before adding water back. Drying the humidifier water tank after cleaning will keep the chemicals used to clean it at bay and out of the air.
Another tool to arm you in finding your happy humidity medium is a hygrometer. Hygrometers measure the humidity levels in the air. The healthiest humidity levels for your home are between 40-50%. You can find these hygrometers for sale at most of your big box retailers.
I believe a clean home is a healthy home. And a clean home (or business) is the passion that drives our company, New England Steam Clean. Whether you feel as though your carpets and upholstery are harboring harmful bacteria from a humidifier, or germs from being cooped up during the cold winter months, we strongly suggest cleaning your home’s carpets and upholstery at least once every 8 months. Or, if you are new parents like we are, and your heightened sense of harm have made you a little on edge (like myself!), cleaning your carpets is a great practice for minimizing risk of infection for all. As a bonus, if you have your carpets cleaned by New England Steam Clean, we will be more than happy to measure the humidity levels in your home for you at no charge. Find your happy humidity medium for your health’s sake and the sake of the health of those you love the most. After all, a healthy home is a happy home and more importantly, a happy mom.
Stacey Sullivan and her husband Kevin Sullivan own New England Steam Clean. New England Steam Clean is a premier carpet, upholstery, and tile cleaning business that services all of Connecticut. The passion that drives their business is creating a clean and healthy indoor environment without sacrificing the safety of the outdoor environment.
For more information on New England Steam Clean and the services they offer, visit www.nesteamclean.com