Do I Need an Air Purifier or Humidifier?

Are you looking to improve your indoor air quality as a way to get relief from ailments like allergies, congestion, dry skin, trouble breathing, or sleeping at night?

Or perhaps you heard that changing the humidity levels in your home can reduce a lot of indoor issues and more pleasant to live in.

Either way, if you’re wondering, “Do I need an air purifier or humidifier?” to remedy certain situations, you’ll find the answer here. We’ll tell you exactly what each product does and share which situations you may want to use one or the other or both.

What are Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers are used to clean your home’s indoor air by removing airborne contaminants.

These machines work in one of two ways:

  1. Using a series of filters
  2. Using ionization methods

Air purifiers that use filters suck the surrounding air into the machine and pass it through a series of dense filters. As the air travels through these filters, particles like dust, allergens, mold spores, and germs get suck.

Air purifiers that use ionization methods either release negative ions out into the air to as a way to reduce contaminants or use electrically charged plates to trap the particles like a magnet.

Some of the best affordable air purifiers use a combination of these functions to clean your indoor air.

What are Humidifiers?

Humidifiers are used to increase the moisture content in your home’s indoor air.

These devices come in four varieties:

  1. Evaporative
  2. Impeller-driven
  3. Ultrasonic
  4. Steam

Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to evaporate cool water into the air. Impeller-driven humidifiers use a rotating disc to release a cool mist. Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultrasonic waves to produce a cool mist. And steam humidifiers create a warm mist by heating water with an electrical element.

When to Use an Air Purifier

An air purifier can help with a lot of indoor air quality issues that often lead to allergies, asthma attacks, headaches, congestion, throat and eye irritation, and poor sleeping.

Here are some common reasons for when you’ll want to use an air purifier:

  • Your home collects an overabundance of dust
  • Your allergies flare up indoors
  • You have difficulty breathing or shortness at home of breath for no apparent reason
  • You’re prone to headaches
  • Your home’s air feels stuffy or stale
  • You can smell paint, varnishes, or chemicals from other building materials
  • You or someone in your home smokes tobacco and you want to get rid of the visible smoke and odor
  • You have indoor pets that shed dander and hair throughout the home
  • You have trouble falling or staying asleep due to nasal or respiratory conditions

Since air purifiers can get rid of most indoor air pollutants, these machines can improve many of these health problems. However, air purifiers can only help in the room that you have them running in.

That means you’ll want one device in the most common areas of your home including the living room and bedroom. If you have another location you spend a lot of time in, you may want one there too. You can find our post on the best desktop air purifiers here if you want something that’s small and manageable.

For more information about the pricing of air purifiers in general, take a look at our post on how much does an air purifier cost.

If you want to learn more about air purifiers and how they can benefit your health at home, check out a related question and answer post, “Do air purifiers improve health?

When to Use a Humidifier

A humidifier can help with a lot of problems that stem from being around dry air such as:

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Excessive sinus congestion
  • Excessive snoring
  • Dry hair or skin
  • Sore throats
  • Colds
  • Asthma attacks

Your respiratory tract needs lubrication to function properly and your skin needs a certain level of moisture to stay hydrated. Since a humidifier’s main function is to increase the water vapor in your indoor air it can help ensure that your body has the proper moisture. 

Generally, humidifiers only help raise the humidity in the room that they’re placed in, however, the moisture can trickle into other connected rooms through doorways. It’s best to have a dedicated humidifier for each room you frequent to ensure there is adequate water vapor.

Can You Use an Air Purifier and Humidifier Together?

The short answer is yes.

You can safely use both an air purifier and a humidifier together because they do very different things. Air purifier/humidifier combo devices also exist if you want to invest in such a machine.

While your humidifier raises the moisture level in the air, the air purifier will work to clean out the contaminants.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to use a humidifier in an area of the home where there already is a high level of humidity like the bathroom. Doing so can cause the environment to become too damp and that can cause mold and mildew to grow.

Summary

If you came here asking the question, “Do I need an air purifier or humidifier?” you now have the answer.

As we outlined above, there are certain conditions where you would want to use one device over another, however, it’s also perfectly fine to have both operating in the same room.

It’s important that you do your research and pick the best product to suit your needs and lifestyle. By taking your time, you’ll ensure that you end up with cleaner, healthier air for years to come.