Air Purifier vs Humidifier: Which is better for you?

The air purifier vs humidifier debate has been going on for quite some time now. Although both the machines bring a different advantage, both air purifiers and humidifiers can improve the quality of breathable air. So let’s dig deep into the air purifier vs air humidifier debate.

What is the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier?

Air purifiers clean the air by filtering out harmful particles using a series of filters. This can help remove airborne allergens and help tackle household odors. On the other hand, air humidifiers do not clean the air but help restore the moisture level in the air by boiling clean water molecules into steam or water vapor.

In order to select the right machine for your household or office, it is important to understand the key differences between the two. Where one can help fend off allergies, the other can help ease respiratory symptoms in a dry environment. Restoring indoor humidity levels can be particularly helpful if you have a baby or for people living with asthma.

This guide will help you understand how air purifiers and air humidifiers work and the situations where each is beneficial so you can make the right decision.

Air Purifier Vs. Humidifier

Criteria Air PurifierAir Humidifier
Working ApplicationFilters out surrounding air from particle pollution and bacteriaAdds water vapor to surrounding dry air to increase humidity
UseRemoves dust, soot, pet dander, smoke, and bacteriaIncreases moisture in the dry air
Efficiency99.97%30 to 50%
Suitable ForPeople who are allergic to dust or dander, have asthma, or wants to maintain hygienePeople with asthma or having sore throat or irritation because of dry weather conditions

Air Purifiers feature a fan that pulls in air from one side, passes it through filters and pushes it out the other end.  According to a study, this process filters out unwanted particles with a 99.97% accuracy if HEPA-based air purifiers are used. Some ionic air purifiers ionize the air they suck in to neutralize the allergen particles.

Air Humidifiers do not filter out any airborne particles or toxic substances; rather, they add water droplets to the air. This is particularly helpful in restoring humidity to 30-50% during the winter months when the relative humidity falls down significantly, reports Mayoclinic. The steam-based humidifier uses a moistened wick that takes water from a water tank. Ultrasonic humidifiers utilize an ultrasonic system to introduce water particles into the air.

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Air Purifiers and Humidifiers – Health Benefits

Both air purifiers and humidifiers improve breathable air quality and can help an individual live a more fulfilling life. Optimal humidity levels can help people with asthma, whereas cutting down the number of airborne irritants like dust mite particles and odor-causing chemical substances can improve health by keeping respiratory issues at bay.

Humidifiers can help symptoms feel less severe, particularly when your nasal passages are dry and irritated. But continuous use without maintenance can actually worsen conditions because allergens usually thrive in a moist environment

Air purifiers do not add any moisture to the air; hence they have no effect on conditions that are triggered by dry throat or nose. If the air is excessively dry, a humidifier can help.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier for Baby

If you are looking to get an air purifier or a humidifier for a baby, it’s best to understand the advantages each will bring for the child.

Humidifier: Cool-mist vs. Warm-mist

If the air is dry, it is proven by studies that the use of a cool-mist humidifier can be beneficial as it can help relieve cold symptoms, dry throat, and throat irritation. Moreover, any respiratory issues due to dry air conditions or congestion can also be alleviated.

A warm mist humidifier will make the nasal passages more swollen, constricting the airflow, and are not recommended if the baby has a cold.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers won’t humidify your air but will filter it. Purifiers free the air from irritants and contaminants, making them perfect for a nursery or baby room. Instead of baby air purifier vs. humidifier debate, an air purifier-humidifier combination can make sure that the air is both safe and has an optimal humidity level.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier for Allergies

As air humidifiers only add water vapor to the air, they are ineffective against allergens. Air purifiers can filter out allergens and other irritants up to 99.97%, thanks to the HEPA filter and a combination of other filters. Some UV air purifiers can even sanitize the air to make sure the air you breathe is safe.

Although humidifiers cannot stop the allergens, they can feel like they are helping. This is because a cool-mist humidifier can help soothe the nasal passages, but the relief is only temporary. In the long run, air humidifiers can actually cause more harm than good against allergens, as studies show that moisture can boost multiplication rates for microbes.

Air Purifier vs. Humidifier for Asthma

There is ample scientific evidence that suggests mold and spores can trigger an attack and can make asthma worse. Where 40-60% of humidity can help restrict the transmission rate of viruses, the same can boost mold and bacteria reproduction which can be dangerous for asthma sufferers.

If humidifiers are not maintained properly, mold and other allergens can form inside them and will spread across space, making humidifiers a safety hazard for people with asthma. If use is necessary to ease the symptoms, remember to clean the humidifier periodically.

Air purifiers, on the other hand, do not ease the symptoms of asthma but can keep the air free of allergens and other irritants. This can help with symptoms and the respiratory condition from becoming any worse.

Can I use both an air purifier and a humidifier at the same time?

Yes, air purifiers and humidifiers can be used together. You can use a humidifier or air purifier depending on the quality of the air. Air humidifiers will return moisture to the air, while an air purifier will filter out contaminants. So, both air purifiers and humidifiers in the same room work together to improve the quality of the air, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Placing an air purifier too close to a humidifier can clog up the filters because of the excess moisture. Having a damp filter can promote mold growth and can even lead to skin conditions. For optimal results, the air purifier and humidifier must be placed at opposite ends of the room.

Moreover, tap water must not be used in the humidifier as ultrasonic humidifiers can add mineral vapors to the air. According to studies, these can cause problems with breathing in children and adults.

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Air purifier cleans the air while an air humidifier restores the moisture level in the air.


Air humidifiers can help with dry noses or sore throats, particularly when the inhabitants catch a cold, but air purifiers are the ultimate solution for keeping allergy symptoms away. Air purifiers can filter out air irritants and allergens using advanced filters and will neutralize any odor in the indoor air.

Air humidifiers will only add vapor to the air, so if your surrounding air is highly contaminated, to ensure healthy breathable air, air cleaning devices like air purifiers are recommended. Advanced air purifiers feature a HEPA filter, activated carbon filters, and a pre-filter that work together to neutralize VOCs, bacteria, viruses, odors, dust, and other harmful allergens up to 99.97%, so you can enjoy clean air and live your life without compromise.