Air Purifier vs. Humidifier: Which One Do You Need?

If you are looking for ways to help allergies, respiratory symptoms or dry air conditions, or if you want to create a healthy home environment for your baby, you should understand the differences between an air purifier and a humidifier, and how to use each one most effectively.

Let’s see how air purifiers and humidifiers work:

Air Purifier

The main purpose of an air purifier, as the name suggests, is to improve the indoor air quality by trapping and eliminating a range of airborne contaminants. It serves to remove particulates and/or odorous pollutants from the air.

When in operation, the air purifier sucks air from indoor environments into the machine through an array of filters before releasing the clean and fresh air. HEPA filter air purifiers are the most popular ones as they are capable of trapping particles as small as 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency.

Besides fibrous media filters, there are other air filtration techniques used in residential air purifiers like adsorption (activated carbon), ionization, electrostatic precipitation (ESP), Photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), ozone generation, and others.

HEPA-based air purifiers are entirely safe to use at home as they don’t release any ozone or other chemical byproducts into the air, unlike electronic air purifiers.


5,121 Humidifier Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

As you can roughly tell by the name, a humidifier adds moisture into the air by pumping a regulated amount of water vapor into your room. It converts water into a cool or warm mist before expelling it into the air. According to EPA – “Humidifiers are commonly used in homes to relieve the physical discomforts of dry nose, throat, lips, and skin.”

Consumer humidifiers are mainly 3 types: evaporative, ultrasonic, and steam-based. Evaporative humidifier uses a wicking filter and a blowing fan to create invisible cool moisture.

An ultrasonic humidifier produces mist from water by applying ultrasonic waves by a transducer. The oscillating ultrasonic soundwave breaks the water molecules and produces dense cool mist.

Steam-based humidifiers produce warm visible mist by boiling the water using a heating element.

Humidity in the house should usually be between 30- 60 percent. A humidity level below 30% is unhealthy for humans and pets. Also, excessive moisture in the air can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, and the reproduction of dust mites.

Most of the humidifiers in the market have a humidistat to control the desired relative humidity.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier: Which works better for different conditions?

An air purifier or a humidifier might be better than the other in different circumstances.

For baby – A humidifier can be better in the nursery if the main problem is dry air, and as mentioned above they can prevent dry, scratchy nose and throat. The FDA states that using a cool mist humidifier may help infants who have cough and cold symptoms, by shrinking nasal passages and helping them breathe easier. However, a warm mist humidifier should not be used, as it can have the opposite effect by causing nasal passages to swell, making breathing more difficult. When humidifiers are used to maintain an ideal relative humidity of 40 to 60 percent, they can also reduce the infectiousness of bacteria and viruses.

For long term air quality, an air purifier can reduce pollutants in the air, including potential toxins from tobacco smoke, “out-gassing” plastics, allergens and asthma triggers like mold spores or pet dander and pollen, and other possible respiratory irritants. This makes an air purifier a better choice for a baby’s room year-round.

For allergens – An air purifier can help reduce allergens levels in the air. A unit with a HEPA filter can help trap particles, though the Molekule technology goes beyond that by destroying allergens in the air. Though humidifiers may help soothe a stuffy nose or other irritation, they can actually make allergies worse because higher humidity improves the survival rates of dust mites [Berkeley Lab].

For asthma – A humidifier can ease asthma symptoms if dry air is also a problem, but it does not affect asthma itself, and higher humidity levels are actually associated with asthma attacks because they can trigger the growth of harmful bacteria, dust mites and mold [Mayo Clinic]. Since asthma attacks are often triggered by pollutants in the air, an air purifier that can remove those pollutants is better for asthma.

Air Purifier vs. Humidifier – FAQs

Q. What are the factors I should consider when selecting an Air Purifier?

A. You should check the filtration efficiency, CADR for room coverage, noise level, built-in air quality sensor, and others. If the air purifier has any electronic filtration, check out the CARB approvals for ozone emission.

Q. What are the factors I should consider when selecting a Humidifier?

A. You should check the mist types, water tank sizes, built-in humidistat, auto mode, and others. Evaporative humidifiers are most effective in adding moisture to the air. The ultrasonic ones are economical, but they often depress minerals into the air. Hot steam humidifiers might not be safe for kids.

Our solution

The Acekool air purifier is a long-term solution for indoor air quality in your home, to help you and your family breathe clean air year-round. While a humidifier is often used on a short-term basis when the air is too dry or a family member has a cold, an air purifier can be used every day to reduce allergen and other pollutant levels in the air. Unlike traditional air filters that simply catch pollutants on filters, the Acekool air purifier destroys viruses, airborne chemicals and allergens like mold, pollen and dust mites, providing clean air to you and your family.

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