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Air Purifier vs. Humidifier: How Are They Different?

Humidifiers and air purifiers are entirely different appliances that both help to significantly improve air quality. Humidifiers can help keep humidity levels in the home at an optimum level, whereas air purifiers help improve the home's air quality through filtration. In this article, we make the air purifier vs humidifier comparison to help you understand the difference and decide which's better for your home.

Key takeaways:

The difference between an air purifier and a humidifier

The air purifier and the humidifier are not the same appliances. Here's how they differ:

  • Humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air to increase humidity levels. It evaporates water from a tank into the air to produce humidity. Humidifiers need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
  • Air purifier. Air purifiers are designed to clean the air by removing pollutants like dust, pollen, and smoke. They pull air into the appliance, filter it through a disposable or reusable filter, and then release it back into the room. Usually, air purifiers come with replaceable filters, and general maintenance to clean or change disposable filters is needed.

Air purifiers and humidifiers serve different purposes, and are designed to address different indoor air qualities. While both can improve indoor air quality, choosing which is right for you is essential.

What health benefits do air purifiers and humidifiers provide?

Air purifiers and humidifiers offer a range of health benefits, such as reducing air pollutants, dander, bacteria, and mold. Both appliances can be beneficial for those who have asthma, allergies, cold, or flu symptoms and those with skin conditions, such as eczema. For people living in a dry climate, a humidifier can be especially helpful to raise the humidity level in a home to a comfortable and manageable level.

Here's what an air purifier can help you with:

  • Asthma, cold, flu, sinus. In a recent study on indoor air pollution, researchers saw a significant increase in air quality when the air purifier was used. Accordingly, reducing air pollution was beneficial to children suffering from asthma, cold, and flu symptoms. The study indicated that using an air purifier over 3 weeks was shown to somewhat lessen the need for medication in children with asthma. Although the study did note that the symptoms were only minimally reduced, even a slight reduction in symptoms can be meaningful for children suffering from asthma.
  • Skin conditions (eczema). Air purifiers were shown to decrease air pollution, which is known to cause eczema and skin rashes. One study found that children living near roadways were more likely to have skin conditions such as eczema. Although studies are limited in relation to eczema and the use of air purifiers, it is noted that decreasing air pollution can help minimize skin rashes and eczema.
  • Allergies. Childhood allergies related to dust, pollen, and animal dander are known to have severe consequences on children. A recent study showed a significant reduction in allergy symptoms when air purifiers, specifically with HEPA filters, were used regularly in the home.

On the other hand, humidifier can also help with an issue of dry air:

  • Dry air. Humidity levels in a home should be between 30–50%, depending on the time of year. When humidity levels drop below 30%, this can cause irritation and discomfort in breathing, especially at night, and can be much worse for those with asthma, allergies, cold, or flu symptoms. A humidifier can increase humidity levels and help those suffering from dry breathing due to climate.
It’s imperative to clean and properly maintain a humidifier as per the guidelines, as mold, bacteria, and spores can grow in the appliance basin and cause increased allergy symptoms.

What is better for a baby – humidifier or an air purifier?

Both air purifiers and humidifiers can benefit babies in different ways. It’s always a good idea to have a high-quality air purifier running in your home, especially a home with pets if you have a new baby. This will help keep the air clean and healthy for optimal breathing.

If you live in a dry climate or the winter weather seems to affect your babies’ breathing at night, having a humidifier in the room would also help keep the air at its ideal humidity level of 30–50%.

Can I use an air purifier and humidifier in the same room?

Air purifiers and humidifiers can be used together in the same room, as they serve entirely different purposes. The two units can work together to improve air quality. It’s important to consider the following when using both units in the same room:

  • Placement. It’s best to place the air purifier and humidifier in different locations to prevent the humidifier mist from being drawn into the air purifier’s intake. This can reduce the air purifier’s effectiveness.
  • Compatibility. Some humidifiers generate dust that can be filtered through the air purifier with a HEPA filter. It’s essential to choose a humidifier with a filter that removes minerals from the water or choose a humidifier compatible with distilled water, as this can prevent minerals from being released into the air.

Using an air purifier and humidifier together can provide complementary benefits to your home. It’s essential to consider the location of both and their compatibility to be sure they will work well together.

How are an air purifier and humidifier different from a diffuser?

A diffuser is an electronic device that disperses essential oils into the air. It uses ultrasonic vibration to break up a mix of water and essential oils, releasing them as a fine mist into the air. The mist is then used to carry the aroma throughout the room and is meant to cause a relaxing atmosphere.

Air purifiers and humidifiers are household appliances used to add health benefits to the air. In contrast, a diffuser creates a pleasant aroma in the air.

Each oil in a diffuser has different scents, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Each has different properties that can have different effects that are said to help with anxiety, allergies, or even headaches.

Final words

Air purifiers, humidifiers, and even diffusers all play a role in the air quality of your home. Choosing the best appliance to suit your needs is important. Both air purifiers and humidifiers can be used in the same room, but it's essential to understand the importance of placement and compatibility of each.

If you're looking for a high-quality appliance, an air purifier with a HEPA filter is an excellent choice, as they filter better than other standard filters. With all appliances, especially a humidifier, it's essential to properly clean and maintain the appliance for optimal use and to prevent buildup of bacteria, mold, and spores.


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