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Air Purifier vs Humidifier: Which Is Worthy?

- Written By

DR Munazza Ashraf, Pharmacist

Updated on

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The drastic change in climate over the past few years calls for some necessary precautions to be taken both individually and at large. It’s where the talk about installing air purifiers and humidifiers comes in. While using these devices can add value to your home environment, not everyone is aware of their true use.


So, in this article, I'll walk you through the purpose, benefits, and differences between a humidifier and an air purifier to help you make an informed choice. Additionally, we provide a detailed comparison between an air purifier vs humidifier to determine which is the best option and which one you may want to purchase for your home

Air purifier and humidifier creating a healthy indoor environment

Do you often worry about the quality of the air your family breathes outdoors, like me? Though we can’t control everything, that doesn’t stop us from being worried. Fortunately, we are in charge of taking measures to improve the air quality at home. Air purifiers and humidifiers help us ensure that the air within our homes is clean and healthy. 

This surrounding air accompanies us day and night. That’s why investing in an air purifier and a humidifier lends great help in maintaining a fresh and comfortable indoor atmosphere. 

Air purifiers vs humidifiers what do they need for?

1) Air purifier

air purifiers and humidifiers
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Exposure to high levels of particulate matter can have adverse health effects, especially for vulnerable populations which include children, the older people, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions. An air purifier helps remove various types of contaminants or particulate matter from the air which are invisible to our naked eyes. These pollutants include dust, debris, smoke, pet dander, pollen, and bacteria.

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2) Humidifier 

air purifiers vs humidifiers
Source / Pinterest

While humidifier, as the name implies, adds humidity to the environment. People living in arid climates or facing extreme dryness during winter find it useful to install humidifiers. A humidifier simply adds moisture to the air and helps overcome problems caused by low humidity. As per different studies and sources. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the optimal humidity levels are either between 30-50% or 40-60%.

What is the difference between air purifiers and humidifiers?

The practice of installing air purifiers and humidifiers has become more frequent worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic compelled people to rethink their actions and prioritize their health. And I believe that using these devices is a step in the right direction. However, one must be well acquainted with proper use, functions, features, benefits, and potential drawbacks.

The basic difference between a humidifier and an air purifier is the purpose they serve. While an air purifier filters pathogens and enhances the air quality, a humidifier helps maintain optimum moisture levels within indoor spaces.

Is it enough to decide which one to pick up for your home?

Just hold on! I’ve got to spill the beans. 

Exploring the health benefits of air purifiers and humidifiers

Air purifiers and humidifiers are two separate devices, each designed to fulfill specific purposes. Before reaching any conclusion, it’s important to consider different factors associated with them.

1) Humidifiers relieve discomfort caused by dryness 

As I said, humidifiers are required to increase the amount of moisture in the air. During winter we frequently experience problems such as cracked lips, dry skin, itchy sinuses, and static electricity. If the humidity levels drop too low it may cause irritation of the nasal passage, stuffy and bloody nose, sore throat, and even colds and flu. 

At night, snoring also gets worse as your airways aren’t properly lubricated. Apparently, the reason is the lack of moisture in the environment due to the use of heaters in winter and cold air outside. 

However, the use of humidifiers helps relieve the symptoms of respiratory conditions by adding the lost indoor moisture back into the air. They mitigate the problem, alleviate the symptoms and provide a soothing, comfortable environment to breathe. 

2) Air purifiers target and eliminate indoor pollutants 

An air purifier being a filtration system is the more rational choice for individuals with asthma and allergies. While we know that several microscopic airborne particles are suspended in the air, the use of an air purifier becomes crucial.

This filtration technology is responsible to filter and remove those allergens which are likely to trigger your respiratory problems. The presence of these allergens not only makes you vulnerable to infections but increases the risk of spread of diseases.

An air purifier by lowering the concentration of airborne pathogens reduces your exposure. It also fosters healthy and clean air by removing indoor pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and unpleasant odors.

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Air purifier vs humidifier for baby so what is the safest option? 

Yes, you can entrust your child’s health to both an air purifier and a humidifier. Infants are generally more susceptible to microorganisms and infections, so it’s important to take extra care. Using an air purifier will help you establish a secure, and pollutant-free environment for your baby. While to address itching, dry cough, and sore throat issues, a humidifier is an appropriate choice. 

How to maintain an air purifier and humidifier? 

An air purifier has only two main components, a fan, and a filter. Based on the filter, air purifiers may be of different types. For instance, HEPA filter, UV light filter, or Activated Carbon filter. But they all share the same basic function of destroying or eliminating contaminants from the air. 

The fan draws the air into the unit and the filter traps the pollutants or allergens (just like mucus does) and then clean air is returned to the room for circulation. To keep your air purifier up and running efficiently, you must wash the filter regularly. It’s also recommended to replace the filter every 3 months. 

On the other hand, a humidifier comprises a tank (water reservoir), a wick, and a fan. It turns the water from the reservoir into water droplets through different mechanisms. Based on the mechanism they could be of different types namely, steam vaporizers, evaporators, ultrasonic humidifiers, etc.

Compared to an air purifier, the humidifier is a bit high-maintenance. You must change the water regularly, avoid using tap water as it causes mineral buildup, and wash it with vinegar or bleach otherwise damp environment will promote microbial growth. 

Potential risks of using air purifiers and humidifiers

A picture always has two sides. Despite their significant usefulness, both an air purifier and a humidifier come with potential concerns.

Whether using an air purifier or humidifier, it’s important to remember the following key points:

  • Regularly change the water in the humidifier tank to prevent the accumulation of infectious agents in dirty water.  
  • Use pure or distilled water instead of tap water, as tap water is rich in minerals. So when the humidifier operates it’ll push those minerals along with the vapors into the air that may aggravate your symptoms.
  • The minerals from hard tap water can also have a detrimental effect on the longevity of the humidifier, reducing its overall lifespan. 
  • Keep the humidity levels in check with the help of a hygrometer as excessive humidity promotes the growth of dust mite, mold, and mildew. 
  • Opt for a cold mist humidifier over a warm mist humidifier to avoid the risk of burns or injuries.
  • Wash the filters of air purifiers regularly to avoid microbial growth and replace them as per the recommendations. 

Which one is best for choose?

Since both air purifiers and humidifiers perform different functions, one can’t be a replacement for another. If you find yourself confused about picking the right one, you first need to evaluate your climate and personal needs. Don’t convince yourself to get a humidifier if local humidity levels are sufficient to prevent the problems caused by dryness. Because increased moisture carries the potential of promoting microbial growth.

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Consider the requirements of the place you want to put the device which is your home or workplace. For landscapes that remain hot and dry throughout the year, a humidifier is an ideal choice to keep dryness at bay. However, if your concern is to offer a healthy environment for allergic and asthma patients then an air purifier tops the list. 

Finding a perfect balance for clean and moist air

In the quest to find the applications, benefits, and potential risks of these devices, I also learned that sometimes people want both. They even asked if they could put the air purifier and humidifier together.

Yes, absolutely. There is no harm if you want to get the best of both worlds by installing both an air purifier and a humidifier. If budget isn’t your concern then you may go for an air purifier plus humidifier. Just pay attention to the point of installation. It’s recommended to place them on opposite sides of the room for maximum efficiency. 

The bottom line 

“Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.”

By Berry Commoner

It indeed requires collective efforts on a large scale to make our environment free from pollution. Moreover, with the negative impact of the constantly evolving climate, it seems more challenging to achieve the goal. However, it’s only natural for each of us to worry about the health and well-being of our families. The least we can do is ensure that the air they breathe indoors is pure and non-hazardous. 

All hail the invention of air purifiers and humidifiers which have significantly alleviated our concerns.

How we reviewed this article

Trend Of Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy



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