A familiar sight in babies' and children's rooms, humidifiers can offer health benefits to people of all ages. Those benefits are contingent on regularly cleaning your humidifier. Neglecting the unit's maintenance can lead to slime growing inside, which you must clean if you want to use it again.
No matter what other features your humidifier comes with, it will include three standard parts: an internal reservoir of water, an absorbent pad and a fan. The absorbent pad pulls water up from the reservoir. The fan blows air across the wet pad, creating a moist breeze that raises the humidity levels in a room. Increasing humidity can do everything from easing dry, itching skin to allowing a person with allergies to breathe easier. The basic design of a humidifier does mean that it needs regular maintenance to run well.
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Slime inside your humidifier is mold or mildew. The internal water reservoir puts humidifiers at a high risk for mold growth. Not only is the mold slimy and unsightly, but it also emits a foul earthy odor that your humidifier blows into your home. If someone in your household is sensitive to mold, she can experience health issues like headaches, nose bleeds or respiratory irritation. The humidifier could also spread mold around your house if you move it from room to room.
Get rid of mold slime inside your humidifier using natural products. Start by changing the water in the reservoir every day. At the same time, rinse out the pad with water. Every three days, wipe down the interior of the unit with a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water. Once a week, fill the internal reservoir with the same solution, adding 1 tsp. of baking powder. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before discarding the solution. If you see slime on the absorbent pad, soak it in the vinegar and water mixture to kill and remove the mold. Rinse the pad thoroughly before using it again.
If the slime lingers inside your humidifier pad even after it has been soaked, or if it continues to smell musty, discard it and replace it with a new one. Even if you don't see the slime any longer, the smell warns you that mold spores are still present. Don't add vinegar to the humidifier's water while it runs, and avoid letting the pad soak up anything but water, which can cause the pad's soft fibers to stiffen or break down earlier than normal, increasing the cost of running the unit.