The Real Difference Between Humidifiers And Dehumidifiers

You can probably tell when it's humid or dry outside but you might want to pay attention to the level of moisture in your home, as well. Air that is too dry can lead to cracked skin and lips, dry sinuses, and bloody noses (via Mayo Clinic). On the other hand, air that is too moist can lead to the growth of mold, which can trigger asthma and allergies (via Healthline).

While the climate generally regulates moisture levels in the air, sometimes it needs some help. That's where humidifiers and dehumidifiers come in. You can tell whether or not you need one of these devices in your home by using a hygrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in the air. Humidity in the home should ideally be between 30 and 50 percent. If the humidity is too low, you might benefit from getting a humidifier, which adds extra moisture to the air through vapor or steam. Conversely, a dehumidifier, which works like a non-cooling air conditioner, removes excess moisture.

The importance of caring for humidifiers and dehumidifiers

Both humidifiers and dehumidifiers come with a number of health benefits. Humidifiers can help relieve chronic runny noses, dry throat, nose bleeds, sinus congestion, hay fever symptoms, and asthma and allergy flare-ups, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Dehumidifiers can help prevent the growth of mold in the home, which in turn can help with asthma and allergy symptoms.

However, if these devices aren't properly maintained, they can cause health problems on their own. Bacteria and mold can grow quickly in dirty filters and reservoirs in humidifiers and dehumidifiers, adding harmful pathogens to the air in your home. This can exacerbate symptoms for people with asthma or allergies and even lead to lung infections or flu-like symptoms in healthy people.

To keep your humidifier clean, the Mayo Clinic advises to use distilled or demineralized water, change the water daily, clean the humidifier every three days, rinse the tank after cleaning, and remember to change the filter regularly. A dehumidifier's reservoir should be cleaned out every three weeks and the filter rinsed regularly (via CNET). A vacuum can also be used to remove any remaining dirt you see.