Should I purchase a cool-mist humidifier, a steam vaporizer or an air purifier for my home? This question is frequently ask by many moms during the height of the cold and flu season. There are drawback to each of these systems that you should consider before making an investment.
Humidifier: A cool-mist humidifier pumps moisture into the air that will help break up congestion. To be the most effective, it should be used in a small room. Because it dispenses cool air, there is no risk of your child being burned.
However, cool water is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Some of the problems of breathing mold spores are: respiratory infections, headaches, redden eyes, memory impairment, just to name a few. The machine can also disperse the minerals in tap water into the air, which can also cause health problems.
Make sure you wash the humidifier on a daily basis with soap and water. A small amount of bleach in the soapy water can be helpful Also, use distilled water to reduce the dispersing of minerals.
Steam Vaporizer: A steam vaporizer also emits moisture into the air and is less likely to produce mold and bacteria because it’s a hot air machine. Minerals are not dispersed into the air as in the case of cool-mist machines, so you can use tap water. However, there is a danger of your child being burned by the hot steam, so it shouldn’t be used for younger children.
Air Purifier: An air purifier generally does not dispense moisture in the air. It’s purpose is to clean the air of impurities such as smoke and allergens. Larger machines can be attached to the furnace. Make sure and clean the filter on a regular basis. Some air purifies emit moisture too. Read the manufactures instructions to learn how to avoid mold and bacteria.
My 88 year old mom, who has respiratory difficulties, was running a cool-mist machine during the day thinking it would be helpful for her lungs. The problem was, it was not cleaned on a regular basis, let alone daily. Her home began to smell like mold and we found her humidifier was one of the culprits. Upon learning about the dangers of mold, we removed the machine promptly.
P.S. If you’re going to use the machine for a short period of time… a couple of days to help a child breath better, my preference is a cool-mist home humidifier. Just remember to clean it daily with a bit of soapy bleach water and rinse well.