This Is What Really Happens When You Use Tap Water In A Humidifier

Humidifiers can be a lifesaver for anyone living in a dry climate. Something as simple as spraying water vapor into the air can help in so many ways. It can help soothe dry, cracked skin; reduce allergy symptoms; help your houseplants thrive; ease coughs and other respiratory symptoms due to illness, and more. It's no wonder that so many homes have one (or more!) humidifiers.


Even though humidifiers have a lot to offer in way of health benefits, the benefit depends partly on what kind of water is used. Using the wrong kind of water can actually be harmful to your health.

In order for the humidifier to do its job well and provide pure, clean water vapor for you to breathe, the water used in it has to be safe and pure. That means it has to be free of minerals, bacteria, viruses, and other nasties. Minerals found in drinking water (weather tap or bottled) are healthy for us to drink, but not good for humidifiers. They build up in the water tank and filter over time, eventually causing the humidifier to malfunction (via Home Air Advisor).

Bacteria and viruses that can be present in tap water can end up being diffused throughout the house, making them an actual health threat as they are inhaled.


Tap water is not a good choice for humidifiers

Researchers from the University of Alberta found that using tap water in ultrasonic humidifiers actually caused surprising amounts of indoor air pollution. Ran Zhao, assistant professor in the faculty of science and the corresponding author of the study, said, "Our study showed that operating an ultrasonic humidifier with tap water resulted in particulate matter concentrations equivalent to a polluted city" (via Gross.


The same problem can occur if the humidifier isn't cleaned often enough. Adam Thompson, a respiratory therapist with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, explains, "Humidifiers and filters that are dirty can quickly breed mold and bacteria, which can then be spread throughout your house on the water droplets generated by the humidifier. It's important to make sure your humidifier and filter are clean" (via US News & World Report).

What's the best water to use in your humidifier? Distilled water beats all, being free of minerals, bacteria, viruses, and any other undesirables.