Do you live in an area with dry air where you use a humidifier often? If yes, you may have experienced humidifier white dust.
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This is the whitish dust that we are talking about and no, it is not cool at all. It may provoke an allergic attack. It is dust after all.
We will look at it in detail later.
You need to be wary about white dust from humidifiers. This is one of the side effects of running a unit at home. Of course, every item has its benefits and downsides.
Humidifiers will keep your indoor air humidified, but you may have to contend with white dust. You can look for a dust-free humidifier on Amazon.com such as the one below. It can help keep white dust to the minimum.
Humidifier White Dust – Is My Unit Bad?
When people experience white dust on their furniture, the first question that they ask is whether their best humidifier is faulty.
It is not. However, you need to do something about the water that you use.
Tap water usually contains natural minerals. Such minerals include magnesium and calcium among other deposits.
When you use the regular tap water in your unit, these minerals will be released together with the mist.
Once the mist settles on surfaces such as walls or furniture, it leaves behind the dried mineral deposits. This is what is commonly known as white dust.
The white dust forms when water with mineral deposits is pulverized into a fine mist by the appliance.
In the process, the minerals also split into small molecules. These are then released into the air together with the mist.
When the mist dries up on any surface it lands on. The traces of those minerals in the form of whitish or grey dust settle on these surfaces.
Humidifier that commonly forms whitish dust
This is mainly common with the ultrasonic humidifiers. I think the reason for this is that they vaporize water into fine particles using high frequency vibrations.
In the case of a warm mist ultrasonic humidifier, it adds moisture into the air via a steaming process.
The water goes through a heating mechanism before being sprayed into the air in the form of a fine mist. The white dust not only appears on different surfaces around your house but also around the appliance surfaces after it runs out of water.
The amount of the white dust residue left on the surfaces varies depending with the mineral content level in your water.
Effects of the whitish dust
We agree that this dust is not cool at all. That is why you are reading this article, to know all about it. However, it is harmful? We will look at that. We will see whether it has any negative effects on your things, or on your person.
1. Effect on household items
The white dust produced by this humidifying appliance is not harmful to any of your household items. Actually, it is nothing to be alarmed about.
It does not in any way cause deterioration of your items’ quality. Just as with the normal dust, you can easily remove it from the surfaces using a damp piece of cloth. It doesn’t require any special treatment to get rid of it.
2. Effects of the dust on your health
Generally, the whitish dust is harmless to most items at home. To many of them, it is nothing to really be concerned about.
However, inhaling white dust can cause serious health problems to infants. It can also be problematic to people who suffer from breathing problems such as asthma and allergies.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, tap water usually contains minerals, mostly rock dust.
These minerals are harmless when they are simply suspended in the water. However, they become toxic once they are aerosolized into small particles that freely float in the air.
Once you inhale these fine particles right into your lungs, they can turn out to be dangerous to your health. In fact, they cause serious lung problems.
One research conducted by the University of Utah found out that a baby developed serious lung problems after inhaling humidifier white dust.
With that said, it means that as much as the pale dust might not pose a threat to your health, you need to be cautious about it.
The same appliance that makes your house more comfortable can turn to be a big threat to the health of your family. However, you can use the following tips to avoid it, or to get rid of the dust in your home.
Tips for eliminating the pale dust
It is perfectly possible to use a humidifier without experiencing the whitish dust on your items at home. However, you have to take deliberate steps towards that. At the same time, just know that white dust can develop from any unit, cool mist or warm mist.
It usually comes from the minerals in the water. Thus, if you have hard water at home and you use it in your appliance, you had better keep reading to know how to avoid white dust.
Here are a few ways to avoid the dust:
Avoid using tap water
Think of using distilled water in your humidifying appliance. This is because tap water has a higher mineral count, which promotes the production of pale dust.
On the other hand, distilled water usually has minimal mineral content. Thus, it does not produce white dust.
Using distilled water is also an extra advantage to your unit since it will minimize the frequency of cleaning it.
In addition, it can help increase the life of your appliance filter in case your unit uses one. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
If they state clearly that you should strictly use distilled water on your unit; do not go against the instructions.
Do not use an ultrasonic humidifiers
While ultrasonic humidifiers are great for their extremely quiet operation, they are the biggest culprits when it comes to whitish dust.
This is mostly because of their mode of operation. This appliance operates by breaking water molecules down to a very fine mist using ultra high frequency vibrations.
The problem is … these humidifiers not only aerosolize water, but also everything else that is in the water including minerals and bacteria.
When these minerals and the other impurities are released into the air and they are inhaled right into the lungs, they can cause serious health complications.
If you already have an ultrasonic humidifier, please make sure to do the following:
- Avoid using tap water instead. Always use distilled water in the tank
- Clean your unit frequently with soapy water without using other chemicals
- Leave the door open when the humidifier is running
- Do not add any essential oils in the distilled water
Buy a demineralization cartridge
A demineralization cartridge is designed in such a way to get hold of any minerals before they can be dispersed into the air. Some appliance models come already equipped with a demineralization cartridge while others come without.
You can try a product such as the Pure Guardian FLTDC Demineralization Filter. See the image below:
The good news is that these cartridges can be purchased separately. They are easy to install in appliances that come without one. Installing this cartridge will ensure that the dust problem is completely eliminated from your home.
Change the humidifier filters regularly
If your humidifying unit uses a filter, consider changing the filter more regularly or as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
The work of the filter is essentially to trap the water impurities so that they are not dispersed together with the mist.
Therefore, changing the filters regularly will ensure the reduction of impurities build-up including whitish dust.
Change your unit’s water more often
In order to minimize the chances of white dust build up, always change the water in the tank frequently.
Empty the reservoir everyday and wipe its inner surfaces clean before refilling it with distilled water. This ensures that there are no mineral deposits in your unit, thus eliminating white dust.
Clean your humidifier regularly
If you do not clean your unit regularly, chances are that any mineral deposits on its reservoir will be dispersed together with the moisture. Therefore, always ensure that you thoroughly clean your unit after every three days.
Disassemble your unit and follow your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Some manufactures will recommend the use of hydrogen peroxide or other disinfectants while cleaning the parts.
However, avoid using harsh chemicals or soaps. If you fail to rinse the parts thoroughly, the chemicals may become airborne and cause problems when inhaled.
Store the unit properly when not in use
Since you will not be using your humidifiers throughout the year, always ensure that you properly store it until the next use.
Never store a unit while the tank contains water. Instead, drain all the water, give the tank a nice clean and wipe dry all the parts.
Dispose all the used filters or demineralization cartridges. When you take your unit out of storage to use it, clean all the parts again before refilling it with water.
Consider upgrading your appliance
If your humidifying unit has served you for a long time, consider replacing it with a new one. This is because over time, mineral deposits that prove hard to get rid off can develop on your unit.
The build up can increase the chance of generating dust and also encourage the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.
How to get rid of mineral deposits on your humidifiers surfaces
If you notice mineral deposits on your humidifiers, take the following simple steps to get rid of it. Should you fail to clean it off from your unit, it will automatically be dispersed into the air alongside the mist.
When you use a warm mist humidifier for its obvious benefits, the minerals will be even easier to release with the mist. No matter how good the filters are, white dust will eventually form. Thus, before you can use the humidifiers in your house, clean the tank of any mineral deposits. Hard water usually leaves these deposits and they are easily noticeable.
Thus, when we talk about stopping white dust, we are just saying that you should clean the unit’s tank before every use, especially if you have hard water in your area.
Just follow the following steps:
Step 1: Unplug
The first thing that you should do is unplug your appliance from the power inlet. This is obvious, for safety.
Step 2: Drain water
Drain any water remains from the unit’s reservoir and wipe all the surfaces using a clean damp cloth.
Step 3: Clean tank, filters and other parts
Get clean, warm and soapy water and clean your humidifiers as per your manufacturer’s instructions. In case your unit requires disassembling and change of filters, you will do that at this step.
If the white dust deposits prove stubborn to remove, add some vinegar on the water and soak the parts for some time.
You can also consider adding a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the water to help disinfect the surfaces. However, avoid washing your unit with harsh chemicals or bleaching agents.
Rinse all the parts in clean water and wipe them dry with a clean cloth before assembling them back. Repeat this process after every two to three days minimizes the minerals build up on your humidifiers surfaces.
Step 4: Refill with demineralized or clean water
Refill your humidifier with distilled or demineralized water since it has a lower mineral content as compared to tap water.
Do not forget to change water more frequently. If you allow the water to sit in the tank for too long, it can become a good breeding ground for mold, mildew and other bacteria.
If your unit does not come with a demineralization filter, consider investing in a unit that does.
Alternatively, if your model can accommodate this filter, equipping it with one is a good idea. This will help to remove and trap any minerals in the water before they can be released into the air in form of white dust.
FAQs for Stopping Humidifier White Dust?
Here are the questions that most people ask regarding to this appliance dust. If you have been noticing some white fine dust on your furniture and surfaces after running your appliance, read this section for more information.
Do humidifiers create dust?
Yes and no. By this, we mean that when you use tap water, your humidifiers are going to leave residues of white dust on your furniture and surfaces. However, you can avoid this by using distilled water in your appliance. Since distilled water has no minerals like tap water, you can avoid white dust. You may also order demineralized water such as Bissell Spring Breeze Demineralized Water from Amazon.com. When you use this water, it will not produce the whitish dust.
Do warm mist humidifiers leave white dust?
No, they do not. Evaporative cool mist and warm mist humidifiers do not leave white dust on your surfaces. What then are the humidifiers that cause white dust? You may ask. Ultrasonic humidifiers are notorious culprits and so are impeller varieties.
Impeller humidifiers fling water at a diffuser using a rotating disc. The diffuser will then break the water into minute droplets that can float in the air.
The appliances are portable and efficient but they also have their downsides. One of them as we have said is the whitish dust. The second one is that they require closer care and maintenance. The third one is that they can spread germs easily to the air that you inhale.
What is the white stuff on my humidifier filter?
That is without doubt white dust that is produced as a result of using water that has minerals. when the water evaporates from the air, then the white dust settles on every surface that came into contact with the mist.
Is it OK to breathe in humidifiers’ vapor?
Yes it is. However, there are a few things to note here. The water that you add to the humidifiers determines whether you should inhale the vapor that is coming from the appliance.
To remove guesswork from the picture, just use distilled water. Also clean the appliance regularly to ensure that it does not spread allergens like mold and mildew, germs and viruses in the mist that it produces.
How do I prevent white dust in my humidifiers?
To reiterate, you can do three things:
- Buy a demineralization cartridge for your humidifier such as the HoMedics demineralization cartridge.
- Use cool mist or warm mist humidifiers only as we have seen that the two are not notorious for leaving white dust.
- Use distilled or demineralized water
By now, you have seen everything there is to know about humidifier white dust. You have also seen how best to prevent it. It is not too hard and besides, you do want to safeguard the health of your family. Thankfully, the solution is just a couple of steps away as we have explained here. Just know the kind of water you have at home. If it is hard water, you should use distilled water in your humidifier.