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There are many benefits to using humidifiers in your home. They can help relieve the discomfort of dry nose, throat, lips and skin. By adding moisture to the air in your home, they are especially effective at reducing the effects of winter heating, like static electricity, peeling wallpaper and cracks in paint and furniture.

But there's a downside to humidifier use. Excess moisture can foster the growth of biological organisms, including dust mites and molds. It has also been found that ultrasonic and impeller (cool mist) humidifiers can actually disperse microorganisms from the humidifier tank into the indoor air.

Health effects from microorganisms in humidifiers can be reduced by properly caring for and cleaning your humidifier.

You can reduce the dispersion of minerals into the air by using distilled water instead of tap water. Distilled water will most likely contain lower mineral content than tap water. Note that some bottled water may actually contain more minerals.

If demineralization methods are available for your humidifier, you might want to consider trying them out. But if you notice "white dust" in the areas where you use the humidifier, that might be giving you a clue that the demineralization is not effective.

It is most outstanding to use your humidifier only when needed. Set it correctly for existing conditions and make sure to clean it thoroughly. You should empty the tank, wipe it dry, and refill it with fresh water daily.

Take care to not exceed 50 percent relative humidity indoors. High humidity encourages the growth of biological organisms throughout your home. If carpets or drapes are consistently damp, reduce the use of your humidifier.