What Is a Humidifier

Just as high humidity levels pose a risk for your health and your home’s well-being, so do the low humidity levels and dry air. One of the best ways to prevent the air in your space from becoming too dry is to use a humidifier.

Humidifiers are devices whose purpose is to disperse clean water into the air to increase humidity and help solve the issues caused by dry air. If used properly, a humidifier can significantly improve your quality of life. In this post, we’ll explain how a humidifier works, what are the advantages of using a humidifier, what types are there, and how to pick the right one for you.

Why Buy a Humidifier?

The potential issues that dry air can cause are numerous. If you’re experiencing problems such as dry itchy skin, dry eyes, coughing, or cracked lips then the humidity levels in your home are probably low. Humidity levels in the air are measured as a ratio of the amount of moisture present in the air relative to the largest quantity of moisture that air could hold at that temperature. We call this measurement relative humidity and we express it as a percentage.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that the ideal humidity level indoors should sit between 30 and 50%. Levels higher than that can cause mildew and mold to thrive, which can induce respiratory diseases, as well as damage to your home’s structure. On the other hand, dry air can lead to the above-mentioned health problems and cause damage to your wooden furniture, since dryness makes wood shrink and crack. Relative humidity of your air can be measured using a hygrometer, which can be found on Amazon for less than $20.

Dry air normally occurs in colder climates, or during the winter months. However, those living in regions with higher temperatures, and higher levels of humidity, can also experience issues caused by dryness, since they’re probably spending most of their time in air-conditioned spaces. As you may know, air conditioners also eliminate moisture from the air. When you consider that, it comes clear that wherever you live, you probably need a humidifier.

Health Benefits of Humidifier

Humidity in the air serves as a natural moisturizer and helps combat health issues caused by dryness. Humidifiers can be very helpful when regulating humidity levels at your home or work. This is especially significant for people with asthma and those suffering from allergies since dry air increases the chances of infection. We’ve already mentioned some of the health problems related to dryness, but here is a more complete list:

  • Dry skin
  • Chapped lips
  • Fragile hair
  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Influenza
  • Headaches
  • Irritated nasal passages, vocal cords, and sinuses
  • Snoring
  • Nosebleeds

Keeping your indoor air humidity at an optimal level can help prevent or ease these issues caused by dried-out airways. This isn’t always an easy task, but we should underline that using a humidifier is one of the steps that you can take towards improving the air quality in your home.

How Humidifiers Affect Sleep?

As we all know, sleep is an extremely important factor that impacts your immune system. The beneficial effects sleep has on your health can be boosted by using a humidifier. In the following sections we’ll talk about the most important benefits a humidifier provides when it comes to sleep quality.

Optimal Humidity Levels Can Help Prevent Flu and Colds

Seasonal flu and colds can be very annoying. Fortunately, if the air in your bedroom is at an acceptable level of humidity, the chances of catching a viral cold are significantly reduced. More moisture in the air implies that viruses are more likely to tie up with water vapor and fall from the air than to attack a human host. That being said, it becomes clear why we tend to get sick more often during the cold months. Using a humidifier can be of great help there.

Humidifier Helps Relieve Symptoms of Cold and Flu

In case you catch a cold, using a humidifier can speed up your recovery. The optimal humidity level will prevent your nose from getting too dry, and help you breathe much easier. Putting a humidifier in your bedroom can also ease problems such as sore throat or sinus headaches, and improve overall sleep quality.

Humid Air Prevents Dry Skin

As mentioned before, dry and itchy skin is one of the most common issues related to dry air. They can be very annoying, causing you to sleep poorly. When speaking of resolving such problems, most of us will think of lotions, creams, chapsticks, and other skin moisturizers first. These things only address the consequence, leaving the cause intact.

Once again, humidifiers step on the scene. Optimal levels of moisture in the air are great for your skin. Using a humidifier, while also moisturizing your skin with creams and lotions, can help you resolve itchy skin, keep it moisturized, and therefore improve your sleep quality.

Humidity Has a Strong Impact on Hair and Scalp

Dried-out air feels the same on your head as it does on the rest of the body: dryness causes itching, induces more dandruff and further causes interrupted sleep. Your scalp isn’t the only one suffering from dry air, since longer exposures to it can lead to dry and brittle hair. This happens because hair is made up of collagen, and demands some level of moisture. Regulating humidity levels with a humidifier can offer great help when attempting to combat this issue.

Humidifiers Can Help Reduce Snoring

Constricted airways and dried-out airways cause dry mouth and relaxed throat. Thus the respiratory airways will create more mucus, which will result in more constriction and finally increase the chance of producing an audible vibration, such as snoring. Regulating the humidity levels in your bedroom can help alleviate dry airways and other causes of snoring, and so improve the quality of sleep.

How a Humidifier Benefits Your Home?

Besides your health and quality of sleep, using a dehumidifier can also be very helpful when it comes to other aspects of life quality.

Using a Humidifier Can Help You Save Money for Utilities

Moist air seems to have a higher temperature than dry air. This allows you to keep the thermostat at a low temperature without sacrificing any comfort. In some situations, you won’t even need to use the heater or the air conditioner.

This lets you spend less money on energy since most humidifiers only use around 35W to work. If your electricity costs 15 cents/kWh (around the average for all US states), and you leave your humidifier running all day long, for a whole year, you would end up paying no more than $50. That is much less than you’ll ever pay using your heating system.

A Humidifier Can Help Protect Your Wooden Furniture

As mentioned before, dry air causes wood to crack, shrink or split. Keeping the humidity level within the optimum range can help avoid such problems, and protect your doors, windows, floors and furniture.

Humid Air May Help the Growth of Your Houseplants

Plants enjoy and need water both from the ground and the air. Dry air doesn’t do any good to the plants, and might cause them to turn yellow and die.

Humidifier May Help Avoid Static Electricity Shocks

Dry air can cause static electricity often when touching some fabrics, your pets or other people. This can be prevented or reduced by increasing the humidity level in your air.

What Types of Humidifiers are There?

Depending on the method they use to moisturize the air, there are five main categories of humidifiers. Some disperse cool water into the air, others use warm water, and yet some can do both. Regardless of their type or category, they all have the same purpose, so you might want to make your choice based on what your home needs or on your personal preferences.

Central Humidifiers

Also known as whole-house humidifiers, central humidifiers are settled in your ventilation, heating or air conditioning system. Naturally, due to its size, it’s pricier than the smaller, portable humidifiers, but it’s definitely the best pick if you want to purchase a permanent solution, able to constantly regulate humidity levels in all rooms. It’s important to note that central humidifiers don’t use steam, so there will be no burns to worry about.

Keep in mind that the central humidifier’s water tank must be cleaned regularly, usually on a two or three-week basis. Luckily, the filters inside central humidifiers usually last a year, so you’ll only have to clean or replace them once a year.


Evaporators, otherwise known as evaporation humidifiers, use a fan that pushes the air via a moistened filter. These are one of the most budget-friendly options on this list. The main downside of this type of humidifier is that you’re not controlling them, so in case you don’t measure your air’s relative humidity, it might increase over the desired level. As said before, high levels of humidity can allow mold mildew and dust mites to grow. To avoid such scenarios, check relative humidity levels often and make sure to always clean all components properly.

Impeller Humidifiers

Impeller humidifiers disperse moisture into the air using fast rotating discs. Impeller humidifiers use cool mist, so they’re safe to use around children and pets, since there’s no risk of burns. They’re another affordable option on this list.

We should underline that, similar to previous types of humidifiers, these must be kept clean to avoid the development of bacteria and other viral microorganisms. Impeller humidifiers often include an option to switch between different mist types, so it’s easy to adjust the amount of moisture that the humidifier produces.

Steam Humidifiers

This type of humidifier is the most portable and the least pricey on this list. Made for single-room use, they work by warming and then cooling the water to produce the steam. Steam is then released into the air through a pipe.

Steam humidifiers require less commitment when it comes to cleaning the water tank and other compounds since the high temperature of steam eliminates any bacteria or pathogens from the water. A downside that needs to be mentioned here is the danger of burns, so no kids or animals should be able to reach the steam humidifier.

Another great feature that often comes built-in in steam humidifiers is an aromatherapy diffuser, where you can add essential oils or other inhalants.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

As their name suggests, these humidifiers use ultrasonic vibrations to produce a mist. They’re available both in cool and warm mist versions. They also come in many different sizes, and this is reflected in their prices. Ultrasonic humidifiers that create the cool mist are a good choice for families with children or pets since they’re safer to be around, but remember to clean your humidifier and all its components regularly.

How Often To Clean a Humidifier?

Although the manufacturer should provide you with a user manual and guidelines on how to clean and handle your humidifier, here are some basic rules based on the water tank size:

  • Humidifiers with water tanks with a capacity of up to 5 gallons should either be cleaned daily or sanitized weekly.
  • Humidifiers with water tanks with a capacity larger than 5 gallons should be sanitized every week, while also following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Final Words

This concludes our post on humidifiers. We should finish by underlining how important it is to have your indoor humidity levels in control. Having a relative humidity in your home within the acceptable range can help relieve issues related to dry air, such as cracked lips, sore throat, dry and itchy skin. It can also be very beneficial for your home, especially where wooden furniture and fixtures are concerned. Remember to clean your humidifier and change air filters as often the user manual notes.

We hope you like the article, and find it helpful. In case you still have any questions or would like more information on a particular point, feel free to post a comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer.