South America's Atacama Desert, a 41,000-square-mile expanse stretching from Peru to Chile, gets four inches of rain EVERY THOUSAND YEARS! And you thought your house got dry in the wintertime!
To get rid of your indoor desert, use a room humidifier. If you don't have one, get one; that's doctors' orders! Heating systems can drive relative humidity below 10 percent, and for optimal comfort and health, you want relative humidity at 30 percent to 50 percent. The added moisture from a humidifier can ease dry, itchy skin and irritated nasal passages, quiet down a snoring bedmate and help break up congestion.
But if you don't keep ultrasonic and cool-mist humidifiers clean, they become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and disperse micro-organisms and minerals from their water into the air. So, make sure you keep your humidifier healthy so that you stay healthy, too.
1. Use humidifiers with removable tanks that can be emptied and cleaned. Empty standing water once a day.
2. Twice a week, wash the tank with a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide, or a three-to-one mixture of distilled water and vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse several times with tap water.
3. Fill only with distilled water. Even if you use filtered water, the mist may contain minerals that get inhaled and trigger respiratory problems.
4. Avoid disinfectants that you leave in the water tank. Variations of some marketed in North American have proved dangerous for children to breathe. Stick with elbow grease.
5. Change filters regularly; never let them develop discoloration or mold.
© King Features Syndicate