More than one third of all Americans have a pet, while a similar number have pet allergies. Animal fur and dander are significant sources of allergies, and many wonder if a humidifier can help with pet dander.
Humidifiers do not directly reduce pet dander. However, the correct levels of humidity (30-50%) can minimize pet allergy reactions by improving the efficiency of mucous lining in your nose and mouth. Air purifier-humidifier combination units can effectively remove pet dander whilst also humidifying the air.
The following article comprehensively explains all you need to know about humidifiers and pet dander. A complete explanation of animal dander, associated allergies, and possible implications on general health is provided. Most importantly, how humidifiers affect pet dander and the role of humidifiers in preventing pet allergies is discussed in detail.
Pet dander refers to the dead skin cells shed by furry animals.
The animals undergo molting, which includes shedding their hair and cells. Once the dead fur and dander fall out, the growth of new hair, whiskers, and healthy skin occur.
The frequency of molting varies for each animal. Cats, for example, take up to 6 to 8 weeks to get rid of fur and dander, whereas dogs can molt once or twice a year, depending on the breed.
Apart from the primary cycle, animals also shed some hair and dander daily. Pet dander is microscopic and lingers in the air. However, due to their size, even air purifiers with generic filters cannot completely clear them out.
In fact, HEPA filtration is necessary to successfully remove them from the air.
In excess humidity, dander can settle on surfaces and stick to clothes.
Since air purifiers and humidifiers (with filters) can only trap the contaminants present in the air, pet dander becomes a principal allergy agent in a highly humid environment.
The primary purpose of humidifiers is to add moisture to the air. Humidifiers cannot specifically remove pet dander. Even though some units are equipped with a filtration mechanism, it is typically inefficient at trapping particles as small as pet dander.
Only HEPA filters (pore size 0.3 microns) can remove dander particles. Humidifier filters are not fitted with HEPA and only filter out dust and large-sized impurities from the in-flow of air.
Does A Humidifier Help With Pet Allergies?
Pet allergies are an aggressive immune response triggered by dead animal cells, hair, or fluids. These contaminants are generally harmless, but some people are sensitive to pet dander and develop an immune reaction to combat the allergen.
Extreme levels of moisture negatively impact pet allergies. However, when maintained within adequate limits (30-50%), humidity can help keep allergies at bay.
When the air is dry, the skin, nose, and throat are devoid of moisture and hence, and more prone to allergies due to dander. Since people also tend to stay indoors in cold, dry weather, the risk of exposure to allergens also increases.
The right levels of humidity prevent dander from reaching the throat and lowers the rate of skin allergies.
To gain the benefits of humid air invest in an appropriate-size humidifier and set your desired humidity level between 30 and 50%.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is ideal to maintain relative humidity below 60% in summer, and in the range of 25-40% in winter.
Humidifiers are an essential device for people living in dry climates. When humidity levels are low, it is better to run the unit constantly on auto mode. In the automatic mode, the humidifier periodically switches on and off to keep the humidity from rising above (or falling below) the set point.
However, if you do not want to run the unit 24/7, it is generally advised to run it at night because, after the temperature drops at night, the humidity levels also fall below adequate levels.
Pet allergies also tend to worsen at night – because pet dander is frequently found in mattresses. Since humidifiers help lower the risk of allergies, it can be ideal to have them running throughout the night.
While a humidifier alone cannot remove pet dander, 2-in-1 air purifier and humidifiers combo units can. These combination products are an emerging trend and here’s why they are a good choice:
- Air purifiers are designed exclusively to sanitize the air. While you can buy a humidifier with a filter, it won’t be nearly as effective in removing impurities as an air purifier.
- Most air purifiers come with a HEPA filter that traps dander and other microscopic pollutants. With this, you can stay assured of 99.97% removal of dander floating in the air.
- Apart from dander, pet odor can also be irritating. It stems from animal fur, urine, and skin and is not only uncomfortable but can lead to severe allergic reactions. Buying an air purifier with a carbon filter counters the issue. It adsorbs unwanted pet smells and, in this way, helps minimize pet allergies.
- While air purifiers clear the air of impurities, the humidifier regulates the moisture content in the room, allowing you to live in a comfortable environment with no fear of allergies.
- The combination units are more economical and compact in comparison with individual appliances. Another plus is that some of them are also capable of running independently of one another.
Investing in combination units with both an air purifier and a humidifier can protect you against pet dander and allergies.
Afloia 2 in 1 Air Purifier and Humidifier MIRO PRO
The Afloia MIRO PRO is one of the best options you can find for an air purifier and humidifier combo. The appliance is mainly an air purifier featuring HEPA filtration, which effectively removes floating pet dander.
The HEPA filter used in the device is Medical Grade 13, which guarantees 99.95% efficiency in filtering out particles as small as 0.3 microns. Not only that, but the unit also has a pre-filter that removes large particles to keep the HEPA filter clean. With these filters, the appliance removes pet odors, dander, and hair.
It is capable of cleaning 220 sq. ft. of air at an incredible rate of five times per hour, and you can notice a visible difference in air quality just 20-30 minutes after turning the appliance on.
The filtration also prevents any impurity from entering the humidifier located at the base of the air purifier. It employs evaporative humidification to moisten the air, which dispenses clean, humid, and mist-free air into the room.
You can detach the humidifier by removing the module from the unit, and the air purifier will continue working without it. Since the main body is an air purifier, the humidifier cannot operate independently.
The appliance also has a seven-color light feature that can improve the aesthetics of the room.
Humidity does not directly impact pet dander, nor does it accelerate or decrease the shedding.
However, excessive humidity has adverse effects in terms of pet allergies. If the humidity levels are left unchecked, the moisture can cause the pet dander to stick to surfaces and clothes.
This increases the chances of exposure to the allergen, and consequently, the risk of immune reaction also rises. Adding to this, damp air also favors growth of molds, insects and dust mites, exacerbating pet allergy symptoms in conjunction with other allergens.
Humidifiers let the user select a humidity range, and if a high threshold is chosen (more than the ideal relative humidity range), the unit can humidify the air to a possibly excessive level.
Animal dander is not inherently a contaminant, but it is an allergy source for people with a sensitive immune system. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, 3 in 10 people in the US are allergic to pets, with dander as a primary trigger.
These allergies are mainly associated with cats and dogs.
Although allergies due to cat dander are more prevalent, dogs’ fur and dead skin flakes can cause more severe reactions.
Here are some of the possible complications of pet allergies caused by dander:
- It causes difficulty in breathing and, in severe cases, can lead to a decline in lung function.
- Pet dander can inflame the sinuses, increasing the facial pressure, which results in headaches and pain in the face.
- Inflammation consequently obstructs the sinuses, causing nasal congestion.
- The blocked sinuses leave a person prone to bacterial infections.
- Due to the allergic reaction, a person may develop hay fever.
- Rashes and itching are common, especially around the nose and in the upper chest region.
Because it’s microscopic and lightweight, dander is difficult to remove. It stays suspended in the air for an extended period (six months). To remove it effectively, proper grooming of the pet, maintenance of animal’s hygiene, regular cleaning, HEPA filtration, and anti-allergen sprays are crucial.
Although dander allergies are treatable with nasal sprays and oral medications, they are recurring, so necessary preventive measures should be in place.
Can Air Purifiers Remove Pet Dander?
Air purifiers with HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of pet dander. However, this does not apply to pet dander settled on surfaces or stuck to clothes as these are not in the air and cannot be drawn inside the unit.
Air purifiers do help remove pet dander if they have HEPA filtration. HEPA filters can collect particles as small as 0.3 microns. Since animal dander is microscopic, the filter easily removes it from the air.
Air purifiers draw in air through a rotating fan and then pass it through all the filters installed in the unit. Some systems also come with a carbon filter that prevents gasses and volatile compounds from being emitted into the room. This activated carbon filter comes in handy for pet odors.
When looking for an air purifier, we recommend buying the ones with HEPA filter and activated carbon filter, as well as a pre-filter that keeps the other two clean and prolongs the optimal lifespan of the unit. If you live in a dry, cold climate, we suggest buying a humidifier and air purifier combo.
A dehumidifier prevents the animal dander from settling down, facilitating its filtration via air purifier. However, a dehumidifier on its own does not reduce the concentration of pet dander in the air. In an excessively humid environment, pet dander sticks to surfaces and becomes challenging to remove through an air purifier.
Dehumidifiers remove the excess moisture from the air and bring the humidity levels down to an optimal range.
They do not directly influence the shedding process in any way. But dehumidifiers can dry the environment, preventing the dander from settling and sticking to surfaces and clothes.
The dehumidification allows the pet dander to float in the air, and you can then rely on an air purifier to filter and remove it.
Humidifiers do not filter out dust from the air. However, in continuous mode, humidifiers can achieve sufficiently high humidity that makes dust settle onto surfaces, removing it from the air.
The filter present in some units is not efficient for small particles, and one cannot rely on it for the removal of dust or debris.
We hope this article helps you understand the effects of humidity and humidifiers on pet dander. To sum it up, humidifiers cannot remove pet dander (even if they have a filter), and only air purifiers with a HEPA filter can clear dander out of the air. However, the units can improve the moisture content in dry climates, which eventually reduces the risk of pet allergies.
So if you live in a cold, dry climate and are looking for a solution to pet dander and resultant allergies, we highly recommend the Afloia PRO-MIRO, which constitutes an air purifier and a humidifier.