From nasal allergies to flu, respiratory issues can be challenging. A portable steam inhaler is a simple, budget-friendly option, converting water into a warm mist to potentially soothe airways for better breathing.
Despite claims of relieving breathing issues from allergies and colds, current evidence on reducing the symptoms remains inconclusive.
However, we're keeping it straightforward to see if these devices might help.
Explore our list of top steam inhalers for 2024 for symptomatic relief and consult our buying guide for a successful purchase.
Best 5 steam inhalers of 2024: shortlist
- Crane Cordless Inhaler — best portable steam inhaler
- Theracare Steam Inhaler — best steam inhaler for lungs
- Crane Corded Steam Inhaler — best easy-to-hold design inhaler
- Vicks Electric Steam Inhaler — best convenient size steam inhaler
- Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler — best steam inhaler for sinus
How have we compiled the best steam inhalers?
Here is the criteria we used for our top 5 steam inhalers review.
|Compact design and portability
|Ease of use
|Easy to set up and use
- Price. We picked products based on quality, choosing budget-friendly options and premium models with features matching the cost.
- Comfort. We checked if the inhaler's mask provides a comfortable fit around your face, does not press into your skin too hard, and is a pleasant experience overall.
- Size. We selected inhalers that are portable and easy to carry around. Our preference leaned towards devices that strike a balance between being lightweight and efficient.
- Ease of use. We prioritized selecting inhalers that are simple to set up and use. We focused on minimized complexity, ensuring that individuals can easily understand and operate them.
5 best steam inhalers in 2024: overview
Steam inhalers might provide temporary relief for mild symptoms of cold, flu, or allergies. It's crucial to note that there is not enough scientifically proven evidence demonstrating its overall effectiveness.
Below you can find the top 5 portable steam inhalers we selected based on our criteria.
Disclaimer — It is advisable to consult with your healthcare practitioner to determine the suitability of steam inhalation respiratory use for your condition.
1. Crane Cordless Inhaler — best portable steam inhaler
The Crane warm steam and cool mist cordless inhaler serves as a versatile and portable wellness device, potentially targeting various respiratory issues. The brand claims this portable steam inhaler addresses flu symptoms like nasal congestion, dry cough, and sinus irritation with a germ-free steam.
Additionally, the inhaler has two comfortable medical-grade silicone facial masks, a water-resistant travel bag, vapor pads, and a 10.5 oz bottle of spring water for optimal convenience. The rechargeable inhaler offers the flexibility to operate with or without a cord, accommodating to individual preferences.
The inclusion of multi-temperature settings also caters to varying heat preferences. Simply press the control button to start instant warm or cool mist inhalation. The inhaler runs for 15 minutes, then automatically shuts off. It is an easily portable and travel-friendly device.
Priced at $125.99, this inhaler aims to support your respiratory well-being.
Disclaimer — the brand claims the inhaler is not recommended for use if you have epilepsy or for children under 10 pounds.
2. Theracare Steam Inhaler — best steam inhaler for lungs
A dual-purpose steam inhaler by Theracare is designed to provide respiratory relief. This all-in-one system offers hot steam inhalation therapy, which may ease symptoms of colds, allergies, sinusitis, and more.
Additionally, Theracare inhalers’ hot steam can be used for facial steaming to potentially open pores and remove dirt and impurities. The complete system includes two comfortable around-the-face latex-free masks for targeted respiratory care and steam facials. The smaller mask directs the steam into the mouth and nose, while the larger one is made for facial steam application.
The inhaler is also very simple to use, clean, relatively small, and portable. It has targeted mist output, adjustable steam control, and a measuring cup. You only need to pour tap water into the cup, plug the device in, and enjoy the mist.
With a price tag of $44.63, the Theracare steam inhalation machine is an option and deserves consideration.
3. Crane Corded Steam Inhaler — best easy-to-hold design inhaler
The Crane corded steam inhaler is a small and portable device designed for respiratory relief through soothing steam therapy. It is crafted with a comfortable face mask that aims for precise steam delivery. Crane may be a solution for relieving some of the mild congestion, coughs, and allergy symptoms.
Additionally, Crane is compatible with HALLS Vapor Pads, like menthol, lavender, and sweet orange, that offer a personalized and enhanced experience. The device incorporates instant and quiet mist production with low and high mist output options to suit individual preferences.
Crane also features an automatic shutoff feature when water levels are insufficient. Easy-to-follow maintenance guidelines, including a dishwasher-safe latex-free steam mask, make this inhaler a convenient choice.
Priced at $69.99, the Crane is a personal best steam inhaler for respiratory care.
4. Vicks Electric Steam Inhaler — best convenient size steam inhaler
The Vicks electric steam inhaler is a potential solution for sinus relief from allergies, congestion, and colds. This inhaler has a soft, comfortable face mask, targeting the nose, mouth, and throat, potentially alleviating sinus congestion, dryness, and irritation in a 5-15 minute treatment.
Compatible with soothing menthol Vicks VapoPads, it enhances the inhaling experience. It is also perfect for both home use and travel due to its convenient size. The personal steam inhaler is easy to use. Simply fill the base with water, and a patented heater gently boils it. The adjustable control allows you to regulate the steam flow, and an on/off indicator light makes navigation effortless.
Priced at $60.85, Vicks claims to offer temporary symptomatic relief, making it a worthwhile option to consider for purchase.
5. Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler — best steam inhaler for sinus
Vicks steam inhaler for sinus offers a warm mist for temporary relief from cough, congestion, and allergies in 5-15 minutes. Designed for easy use, no filters are required, and it works well with tap water. This inhaler features an ergonomic face mask which targets the delivery of pure mist and may offer quick relief in nasal, sinus, and throat passages.
This steam inhaler may aid with breathing problems associated with bronchitis, allergies, and colds, providing comfort for cough and congestion. Most importantly, the use of this inhaler is very simple. Unscrew the top part of the device, pour tap water into the tank, and pop the lid back on; turn on the device and enjoy the mist shortly after.
The brand advises against using this Steam Inhaler for children, whether with or without Vicks VapoPads.
Priced at $67.27, Vicks is a great device to consider for temporary cold symptom relief.
Comparison of best steam inhalers
|May work for
|Crane Cordless Inhaler
|Relief from cough, cold, and flu symptoms
|Portable, small, and compact. Multi-temperature settings; does not require a filter
|Theracare Steam Inhaler
|For respiratory relief; facial and aromatherapy treatments
|Dual purpose inhaler, latex-free masks, heats up in 60 seconds
|Powered by cord
|Crane Corded Steam Inhaler
|For respiratory conditions
|Portable design, soft face mask, easy-to-hold design, steam control, power switch
|Powered by cord
|Vicks Electric Steam Inhaler
|Sinus congestion, dryness and irritation relief
|Small convenient size, variable steam control, quickly boils the water
|Powered by cord
|Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler
|Relief from cough, congestion caused by colds, seasonal allergies and sinusitis
|Variable steam control, ergonomic design, and soft face mask
|Powered by cord
What are steam inhalers and how can they help?
Steam inhalers are devices designed to deliver warm or cool mist to the respiratory system. They provide a non-medicated approach to respiratory care, offering comfort and relief from symptoms associated with common respiratory issues.
These devices produce vapor that users inhale, potentially helping to soothe congestion, ease coughs, and alleviate sinus discomfort. Steam inhalation might hydrate the airways, thin mucus and promote easier breathing. It's commonly used for colds, allergies, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Certain steam inhalers serve a dual function by offering facial steaming capabilities for beauty treatments.
However, the effectiveness of steam inhalers may be limited, and there is little scientific evidence on the benefits of steam inhalation. Additionally, there is minimal research available regarding the impact of steam inhalation on asthma symptoms. Thus, individuals with specific respiratory issues, like asthma, should avoid using it before consulting a healthcare professional.
Who should use steam inhalers?
Steam inhalers are suitable for most adults seeking relief from respiratory issues. However, individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma should exercise caution or avoid using steam inhalers, as the steam may potentially exacerbate their symptoms.
Additionally, children are not recommended to use steam inhalers due to the risk of burns. People diagnosed with heart failure should also refrain from using steam inhalers. Some manufacturers even put up disclaimers that state the inhaler is not recommended for use if you have epilepsy.
How to use a steam inhaler?
Using a steam inhaler is simple. Begin by adding water to the designated chamber, following the device's instructions. Power it on and wait for the steam to build. Maintain a comfortable distance to prevent burns, inhale the mist for around 10-15 minutes. Some may choose to include inhalant capsules for added relief.
After each use, turn off the device and let it cool. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for disassembly and cleaning, typically involving simple steps like emptying excess water, wiping surfaces, and disinfecting components. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent bacterial growth and maintain the effectiveness of the steam inhaler.
What to look for in a steam inhaler?
Before purchasing a steam inhaler, check out other reviews to see if most customers are happy with the product. You want to be sure that the inhaler releases an adequate amount of steam and heats up quickly.
You can choose a portable device without a cord containing rechargeable batteries for personal comfort, but if you don't mind the wires, the plug-in option works well, too. Before purchasing the device, make sure the mask is suitable for your preferences.
Some masks can be smaller, allowing mist to directly flow to your respiratory system. Other masks can be larger and provide a more comfortable fit around your face or even allow you to use it for steam facials.
Consider device key features, like mist control, power switch, and whether the mask is soft. By doing so, you'll make an informed decision for a personal steam inhaler that meets your specific needs.
Side effects of steam inhalation
Steam inhalation is generally safe, but mild side effects include respiratory airway dryness, irritation, and the risk of burns. While it may offer temporary relief for congestion, individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma should consult a healthcare professional due to potential symptom exacerbation.
Improperly cleaned equipment poses infection risks, especially for those with compromised immune systems. It's important to recognize that steam inhalation doesn't substitute medical treatment, and for severe respiratory issues, seeking professional medical advice is necessary.
Best steam inhalers — conclusion
Steam inhalation stands as a practical and accessible method for relieving mild respiratory symptoms. Whether combating congestion, allergies, or colds, the soothing mist might provide a relief.
However, based on research, the effectiveness of steam inhalers is limited. There is not enough scientific evidence on the beneficial effects of steam inhalation. It is also essential to exercise caution, especially around children, and consult healthcare professionals when necessary.
Despite these considerations, the simplicity and versatility of steam inhalation position it as a potential therapeutic approach to enhance respiratory well-being when ill.
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Can steam inhalers help with asthma?
At present, there is minimal research available regarding the impact of steam inhalation on asthma symptoms. However, one randomized controlled clinical study with 89 subjects found that it improved lung function, respiratory muscle power, and reduced asthma symptoms with 4 weeks of steam inhalation training.
Is a steam inhaler safe for children?
It is advised to avoid steam inhalation for children to prevent burns. Always consult your healthcare provider before attempting, and consider safer alternatives like a steamy bathroom.
Can inhaling steam treat chronic sinusitis?
Limited research exists on steam inhalation's efficacy for chronic sinusitis. One clinical trial found daily steam inhalation ineffective for chronic sinus symptoms in primary care.
Are steam inhalers worth it?
Steam inhalers may be beneficial for relieving minimal cold, flu, or allergy symptoms. However, individual preferences may vary. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advisable for personalized advice.
- Cochrane Database. Heated, humidified air for the common cold.
- Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging. Effects of low workload respiratory training with steam inhalation on lung function in stable asthma: A controlled clinical study.
- CMAJ. Effectiveness of steam inhalation and nasal irrigation for chronic or recurrent sinus symptoms in primary care: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.