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Do Humidifiers Cause Mold? Everything You Need to Know

Do Humidifiers Cause Mold? Everything You Need to Know

You spend countless hours on the Internet researching the best humidifiers on the market. You read about a thousand customer reviews, watch as many YouTube videos as you can stomach, and make a detailed pros and cons list of your top two humidifier choices. 

Then, your friend Becky tells you that a humidifier can cause mold in your home. Wait, what? 

Do humidifiers actually cause mold? 

Sorry, Becky. Humidifiers do not cause mold, but they can develop mold if not used properly and regularly maintained. 

Let’s dive into the grimy, moldy details (including how to clean humidifiers the proper way).

But First, What is Mold? 

Mold is one of those things that we all know exists but we like to ignore until it (literally or figuratively) slaps us in the face on a piece of bread or an old, lumpy apple. 

Mold is a completely natural, albeit gross, environmental contributor that can be found in nearly every place there is moisture and oxygen. Mold are members of the kingdom fungi and play an important role in nature by disintegrating decayed, organic matter like dead trees and leaves

Indoor mold, including humidifier mold, is mold that has gone rogue, if you will. Indoor mold does not contribute to the beautiful circle of life we admire and appreciate. In fact, indoor mold, which flourishes on paper and wood products, can destroy surfaces of your home by digesting the material in order to survive. 

Mold is not a static fungi. Mold reproduces by creating microscopic spores that enter the air and attach to various surfaces. Spores can survive for long periods of time and produce allergens for years after they attach to a surface, whether they are alive or not. 

The Health Risks Associated with Mold

The health risks associated with mold

Most healthy adults exposed to surface mold can go unscathed (aside from a case of the heebie-jeebies). However, individuals with allergies and asthma as well as children, the elderly, or people with pre-existing respiratory disease can show heightened sensitivity to mold spores in the air. 

A 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine established sufficient evidence to prove a correlation between mold exposure indoors with a trigger of asthma symptoms in asthmatics and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals who suffer from immune conditions. 

Common symptoms associated with mold exposure include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing 
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy skin
  • Red, itchy eyes

Severe reactions to mold exposure include shortness of breath and fever. If you are having trouble breathing, call your doctor immediately. 

Do Humidifiers Cause Mold?

Do humidifiers actually cause mold? 

This is a tricky question: humidifiers do not cause mold, but they can develop mold if not properly maintained or if home humidity levels regularly exceed 60%

You can prevent the development of mold in your humidifier by maintaining a regular cleaning schedule and monitoring humidity levels in your home. 

Unlike traditional models, Canopy Humidifier is anti-mold. Meaning we built our Humidifier with special technology to mitigate mold growth for the healthiest, cleanest moisture. Canopy Humidifier uses SPA technology and features an anti-microbial filter that catches all dust, dirt, and particles that would otherwise end up in your air, or in your lungs. Traditional models often have sitting water, which is a breeding ground for mold. Canopy on the other hand, runs until the unit is completely dry. No sitting water = no room for mold growth. 

How to Prevent Mold in Your Humidifier

While mold is inevitable wherever moisture is present, there are measures you can take to ensure your humidifier remains mold-free. 

Maintain a Regular Cleaning Schedule

We now know that mold can be found anywhere moisture and oxygen are present, which includes the water tank of your humidifier device. Without a regular maintenance schedule, your humidifier can serve as a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Mold present in your humidifier water tank can enter your home air through the mist released from your device triggering allergies, asthma symptoms, and more. No, thank you!

A surefire way to prevent mold growth on and in your humidifier is to adhere to a regular cleaning schedule. We recommend cleaning your humidifier once per week to keep your device in tip-top shape. 

Monitor Relative Humidity Levels in Your Home

The optimal humidity level in your home is between 40% and 60%. According to the World Health Organization, high home humidity levels and inadequate ventilation are closely associated with the development and multiplication of microorganisms including mold and bacteria.

Monitoring your home humidity levels with a hygrometer (a portable device that measures relative humidity levels) or a smart thermostat is an important aspect of humidifier ownership. If relative humidity levels exceed 60% in your home, you should take appropriate measures to reduce your indoor humidity including: 

  • Turn on the air conditioner
  • Open windows and doors to the outdoors if outside humidity levels are adequate
  • Run a dehumidifier  

How to Clean Traditional Humidifier Models 

As we discussed, a regular device maintenance schedule is incredibly important to prevent humidifier mold so that you can breathe easy.

Routinely cleaning your humidifier sounds great in theory, but, how do you actually clean a humidifier? There are so many parts with challenging nooks and crannies! The problem? Cleaning of traditional models can take HOURS on end. And, let’s be honest, who has time for that?  

We recommend flipping through your owner’s manual for explicit directions on how to clean your humidifier model, however, most humidifiers can be effectively sanitized by following the below steps: 

Step 1: Disassemble your humidifier

Step 2: Soak all non-electrical parts in distilled white vinegar

Step 3: Scrub the internal surfaces of your humidifier water tank and base

Step 4: Wipe the exterior of your device with a vinegar soaked cloth

Step 5: Rinse all non-electrical parts in fresh water and let them air dry

How to Clean Your Canopy Humidifier

How to clean your Canopy Humidifier

At Canopy, we like to keep things simple. Our humidifier is equipped with dishwasher safe components, which allows you to spend less time cleaning your humidifier and more time enjoying the perks of pure, hydrated air. 

Cleaning your Canopy Humidifier is really that simple. Place Canopy’s components in the dishwasher and run your wash on a normal cycle. Make sure all of your humidifier components are completely dry before assembling your device. 

Give the body of your humidifier an occasional wipe down with a warm cloth, and you’re good to go. That’s really it! So easy, so simple.

How Do Humidifiers Work?

How Do Humidifiers Work?

Are you entertaining the idea of adding a humidifier to your living room or bedroom? Did you read about how effective humidifiers are for babies but want to do your own research? Or, did you purchase a humidifier on a whim and feel like you need a little more information on how exactly humidifiers work?

Regardless of where you are on your humidifier journey, welcome. In this blog, we will discuss:

  • What are humidifiers? (function, types, optimal humidity levels)
  • How do humidifiers actually work?
  • What are the benefits of humidifiers?

  • What Are Humidifiers?

    How do humidifiers work?

    A humidifier is an electrical device that disperses moisture into the air to increase relative humidity (RH).

    Sounds cool and all, but why would I need to increase the humidity of a particular space?” 

    Glad you asked! 

    Humidity is the total amount of water vapor present in the air at any given time. Humidity is responsible for the wet, sticky feeling you get on a tropical vacation and lack of humidity is responsible for the frigid, nose-biting cold of the winter months. 

    Humidity is a relatively finicky phenomenon… A Goldilocks scenario, if you will. 

    Too little humidity, and you can experience the following symptoms: 

    • Dry and itchy throat
    • Dry skin
    • Dry and flaky scalp
    • Bloody nose
    • Watery eyes, and more. 

    Too much humidity, and it becomes a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, vermin, and other things that go *bump* in the night. 

    You can rely on a humidifier to regulate humidity levels in your home creating a comfortable and healthy environment for you and your family regardless of seasonality. 

    The Types of Humidifiers

    There are three primary categories of humidifiers: cool mist humidifiers, vaporizers, and whole house humidifiers. While cool mist humidifiers, vaporizers, and whole house humidifiers raise RH levels of a designated space, each humidifier category offers a unique set of benefits and potential drawbacks based on your personal preferences. 

    Cool Mist Humidifiers

    There are two types of cool mist humidifiers, which include ultrasonic humidifiers and evaporative humidifiers. Both types of cool mist humidifiers deliver a fine, cooled mist into the surrounding space through varying delivery mechanisms. We will discuss how cool mist humidifiers operate in the next section “How Do Humidifiers Work?” 

    For more information about cool mist humidifiers, you can read “What is a Cool Mist Humidifier?” 


    Vaporizers or “Steam-Based Humidifiers” release slightly warmed moisture into the air. Vaporizers can slightly elevate the temperatures of a given space, which makes them a cold season favorite. 

    For more detail specifically related to vaporizers, you can read “Humidifiers vs. Vaporizers.” 

    Whole House Humidifiers

    Whole house humidifiers are also known as “central humidifiers.” This type of humidifier connects to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) system and elevates RH in your entire home. Whole house humidifiers can humidify 1,000 square feet or more depending on the device output; in comparison, portable humidifiers can humidify 300 to 600 square feet on average. 

    The “Perfect” Humidity Level

    The perfect humidity level for your home is between 40% and 60%

    Optimal humidity levels for your home environment are between 40% and 60%. The “perfect” humidity level on this scale is based on your personal preference; some like it less humid, some like it more humid, and some like it moderately humid. There is no “right” answer on this scale. 

    How Do Humidifiers Work?

    Now that you know the different types of humidifiers and their function, we can take a look at how they work. Each type of humidifier boasts a unique delivery system that dispels a fine mist into the surrounding environment for elevated moisture and increased comfortability. 

    Ultrasonic Humidifiers

    An ultrasonic humidifier operates by vibrating a small, metal diaphragm at the bottom of the water tank at ultrasonic speed. The resulting vibration creates water droplets that are fanned into the air in the form of a fine mist. 

    Evaporative Humidifiers

    Evaporative humidifiers operate like a pedestal fan. This type of humidifier draws in air from the room and pushes it through a moistened wick. The wick adds micro-fine water droplets to the air, which is then pushed back into the room with an internal fan.


    A vaporizer or a steam based humidifier works by boiling water in the water tank to create steam or vapor. The vapor is fanned into the room raising both humidity levels and room temperature. 

    Central Humidifiers

    Central humidifiers attach directly to your HVAC system and connect to your water supply. When your central humidifier is in the “on” position, air flows into the humidifier passing through a wick moistened by the water supply. The air then flows through the vents providing moisture throughout your entire home. 

    What Are the Benefits of Humidifiers?

    Regulating your home humidity levels with the aid of a humidifier can provide a vast array of health and wellness benefits. Simply pressing the “on” button of your humidifier, and taking a survey of RH in your home every now and again can keep you and your family healthy, happy, and extremely comfortable. 

    Humidifiers combat the flu, colds and COVID 19, improve allergy and asthma symptoms, improve congestion and dry throat, help with dry skin, chapped lips and dry scalp, and much more. 

    Humidifiers Combat the Flu, Colds & COVID-19

    Humidifiers help to combat COVID 19

    A recent study in the Annual Review of Virology relayed the importance of humidity in the body’s response to viral infections. The study found that lower levels of humidity improved the survival rate of airborne pathogens, reduced the efficacy of cilia (little hairlike structures in the airways) to protect against foreign particles, and weakened the body’s immune response. 

    Makes you want to crank the humidifier, huh? Regular use of a humidifier to regulate humidity levels in your home can help your body respond to extraneous invaders like the flu, the common cold, and COVID-19.

    Humidifiers Improve Allergy Symptoms

    If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you are in luck! Humidifiers can help to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms including: congestion, sore throats, watery eyes, sinus pain, and inflammation as a result of allergy triggers. 

    Learn more about how humidifiers help to improve allergy symptoms here

    Humidifiers Improve Congestion

    The fall and winter months notoriously bring with them colds, stuffy noses, sore throats, chronic cough, and countless other dry air aggravations. Dry air eliminates the lubrication in your airways, which causes irritation and inflammation in your airways. 

    Regular use of a humidifier in your home will improve congestion, sore throat, or dry cough making the fall and winter months less bothersome and more enjoyable. 

    Humidifiers Help with Dry Skin, Lips & Scalp

    Dry skin known as “xerosis” is the result of the skin losing water content faster than it can be replaced. In the dry, winter months, the skin loses heaps of moisture to the environment; the lower levels of humidity do little to nothing to replace this lost moisture. The result is dry, itchy, flaky, and inflamed skin. 

    Low humidity levels can also lead to chapped lips, dry, flaky scalp, and severely dry or cracked hands. Adding a humidifier to your home will help to replenish necessary moisture (and comfort!) to your skin, lips, scalp, and hands. 

    How Does a Humidifier Affect COVID-19?

    Graffiti of Surgical Mask on Wall

    COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of March 2020. With over 114M cases worldwide and counting, coronavirus disease 2019 has impacted a notable share of the world population. 

    What is Coronavirus?

    Coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, is the disease caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Coronaviruses are a group or family of viruses that can cause the common cold, SARS, or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). 

    COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to moderate with older populations or adults with pre-consisting conditions suffering more severe symptoms resulting in death.

    How Can a Humidifier Affect Coronavirus?

    How does humidity affect COVID-19?

    According to a 2020 paper published in the Annual Review of Virology by Yale professor Akiko Iwasaki, temperature and relative humidity (RH) play an important role in modulating immune response to viral infection. In this study, Iwasaki and the co-authors identify three major effects of low RH on immune function and viral transmission:

    1. Lower levels of humidity improve the survival of airborne pathogens and increase their trajectory.
    2. “Cilia,” the tiny hairlike structures that line the inside of your airways, struggle to perform their protective duties in dry conditions. Cilia need sufficient moisture to trap foreign particles before they enter your body and cause any damage. 
    3. The presence of chronic dry air weakens the immune response, increasing the likelihood of transmitting viral infections.

    Here’s the gist: dry air = bad. Sufficiently hydrated air = good. 

    Since coronavirus is a viral infection transmitted through air droplets, increasing RH levels in your home can help in a number of ways. Increased RH can help to reduce the survival rate of COVID-19, improve your body’s defense against the virus should it enter your home, and ensure proper immune response to the coronavirus if you happen to transmit the disease.  

    The best way to increase the RH levels of your home or living space is by using a humidifier. A humidifier can move from room to room increasing the moisture content of the air in your home to achieve optimal levels. 

    What Are the Best Home Humidifiers?

    Coronaviruses are troubling. It is safe to say that most of us are willing to take any necessary precautions to protect our health and the health of our family and loved ones. 

    Adding a humidifier to your healthcare toolkit is a great way to improve your chances of remaining healthy and safe in the midst of this pandemic. When choosing a humidifier for your home, it is important to consider the following factors:

    • Do you need a compact humidifier or a whole house humidifier?
    • How easy or rigorous are the cleaning and maintenance requirements?
    • How big is the device tank? How long will the device run before needing a refill?

    Compact Humidifier  vs. Whole House Humidifier

    Before you begin your humidifier search, you need to determine whether you need a compact-sized humidifier or a whole house humidifier. Compact humidifiers are intended for smaller spaces like a particular room in your home; these humidifiers are small in size and can be moved from room to room allowing you to control the humidity levels of specific spaces. 

    A whole house humidifier, on the other hand, is a larger device (often installed as a part of your HVAC) that works to increase the humidity levels of your entire home. Whole house humidifiers work alongside your furnace to raise RH in larger spaces. 

    So, do you need a compact humidifier or a whole house humidifier? It depends. If you have a smaller home, or you prefer to control the humidity levels of a particular space (like a busy living room or a child’s nursery), a compact-sized humidifier is the way to go. If you have a larger home, or you prefer to raise humidity levels in every room of your house, then you may need a whole house humidifier. 

    Care and Maintenance

    Humidifiers need TLC, some more than others. When choosing the best humidifier for your home, you want to keep a close eye on the care and maintenance requirements

    All humidifiers require daily wipe down to ensure proper function. The more rigorous process, however, is the weekly deep clean to prevent mold and bacteria build-up. Some humidifier devices have complicated componentry with an even more complicated set of cleaning directions. Most humidifiers require a manual clean, preferably with a natural disinfectant like white vinegar and water to effectively deep clean your device.  

    Make sure to choose a device with care and maintenance requirements that are suited to your lifestyle. Canopy humidifiers, for example, are entirely machine washable with a replaceable paper filter that lasts up to 45 days.  

    Tank Capacity

    Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes. You can find travel humidifiers that fit in your handbag, or massive humidifiers that lay claim to an entire corner of your room. 

    Why is tank capacity important? Tank capacity is directly related to run time. The larger the tank, the longer the run time. For example, Canopy humidifiers have a 2.5L tank with a 36 hour run time. If you run your humidifier all day, you would only have to refill your Canopy water tank every day and a half. 

    When choosing the best humidifier for your home, you want a device with a tank capacity that is easily compatible with your lifestyle. Maybe you don’t mind refilling your humidifier multiple times per day. Or, maye you prefer to refill your humidifier tank every few days. The choice is yours!