Air Purifier vs Humidifier: Which is Better for Indoor Air Quality?

Good indoor air quality is a vital factor in maintaining good health. It is significant for families with babies, elders, and asthmatic people. Two popular devices that can help improve indoor air quality are air purifiers and humidifiers.

Air purifiers work by removing allergens and pollutants from the air. In comparison, humidifiers increase moisture levels to relieve dry skin and respiratory issues. Now, I bet you are wondering how to choose the right one. So air purifier vs humidifier: which device is suitable for you?

To assist you in making an informed choice, I shall contrast and compare humidifiers and air purifiers in this post. I’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of each gadget, as well as which is better for allergies and newborns, based on my study and experience. By the end of this article, you’ll better understand which device is the best investment for your health and home.

key takeaways
1. Your specific requirements primarily determine the decision between air purifiers and humidifiers.
2. Choosing between an air purifier and a humidifier for sinus and eczema relies on what causes the symptoms.
3. Air purifiers are generally preferable for people with asthma and allergies, while a combination of both air purifiers and humidifiers is ideal for babies.
1

What are Air Purifiers?

What are Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers are electric households that can improve indoor air quality. They have high-quality dust filter layers with several functionalities and cutting-edge cleaning methods. As a result, they will filter out toxins and tiny dust particles from the air around them.

Air purifiers work by sucking in indoor air and passing it through one or various filters that trap pollutants and particles. After that, they blow fresh air back into space. Depending on the capacity of each air purifier, which can treat different volumes of air associated with the size of rooms.

There are many types of air purifiers on the market, including portable room-based models, whole-home electronic air purifiers, central air purifiers, industrial models, etc. Air purifiers use different types of filters, such as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) or Ozone filters, Coarse filter, Activated carbon filter, and UV lights,…

Advertisements for air purifiers frequently highlight their advantages for asthmatics and allergy patients. Moreover, there are a lot of air purifiers benefits, such as:

  • Reduce or eliminate tobacco smoke or harmful gasses.
  • Remove allergens and pollutants from the air.
  • Destroy viruses and bacteria in the home.
  • Improve respiratory and dermatology health.
  • Have a good sleep quality.
  • Reduce bad odors.

On the other hand, air purifiers also have some drawbacks to consider, including:

  • It can be noisy.
  • Require filter replacements periodically.
  • Not effective against all air pollutants.
  • High cost.
2

What are Humidifiers?

What are Humidifiers?

Humidifiers force water vapor or steam into the atmosphere to boost the humidity ratio. They contain a water reservoir, steam generator, nozzle, and fan to create suitable humidity for the space.

Humidifiers are commonly used in dry climates or in the winter that cause respiratory issues, dry skin, and other health problems because they help mitigate these problems and make breathing more comfortable.

Several types of humidifiers are available on the market, including central humidifiers assembled inside the heating and air conditioning systems. Or Ultrasonic humidifiers that produce a cool mist with ultrasonic vibration. Or Evaporative humidifiers that use a fan to blow air through a moist wick or filter, and Steam vaporizers that heat water and release steam into the air.

A lot of humidifiers benefits that can help to improve your indoor air quality, such as:

  • Increase and balance moisture in the air.
  • Preventing influenza.
  • Relieve dry skin and respiratory issues.
  • Helps reduce the problem of dry nose and eyes.
  • Improve sleep quality, and reduce snoring.

Besides, humidifiers also have a few drawbacks, such as:

  • It can promote mold and bacteria growth.
  • It cannot remove dust, allergens, and pollutants.
  • Require regular cleaning and maintenance.
  • It can cause over-humidification and condensation.
3

Air Purifier vs Humidifier: An Ultimate Comparison

You may understand their work after reading about the benefits and drawbacks of the two machines. So, what is the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier? And which is most suitable for your demand and interest. Let’s compare two devices.

 

Air purifier

Humidifier

Design

Variety of size.

Containing: Chassis, exhaust fan, and filter.

Regularly smaller.

Containing: Water reservoir, steam generator, nozzle, and fan blades.

Purpose

Use filters to remove airborne contaminants, bacteria, allergens, etc

Clean the indoor air.

Add moisture to the air to soothe irritation caused by dry conditions.

Balance the humidity indoors.

Function

Beneficial for asthmatics and allergy sufferers

Improve air quality

Improve respiratory and health

Beneficial for asthmatics and those whose airways are irritated by dry air

Increases moisture to limit the dry skin

The ability to filter the air

Yes

No

The ability to humidify

Available on some models

Available on all of the models, the ability to humidify up to 50%

Noise

Can be noisy

Quite quiet

Maintenance

Require filter replacements periodically

Require regular cleaning and maintenance

Cost

More expensive ($100 – $1,000)

Cheaper ($40 – $200)

Your needs and financial situation primarily influence the decision between an air purifier and a humidifier. 

For a practical example, I live in a polluted environment and am concerned about the air quality in my home. My mother has asthma or is easily allergic, so I prefer an air purifier.

On the other hand, my sister and her husband live in an area with low humidity or cannot endure dryness in winter. Besides, she suffered from dry skin or other symptoms related to dry air, so she bought a humidifier.

However, some high-end air purifiers now also have built-in humidification capabilities. So, consider choosing an air purifier with a humidifier to reduce expenses while improving air-cleaning efficiency. The product will help purify the air and create enough moisture for your home.

4

What to Choose in Different Scenarios

In our quest to improve indoor air quality, we often face the dilemma of choosing between an air purifier and a humidifier. To make a well-informed decision, it’s crucial to understand how these devices function in different indoor conditions and health scenarios. As we venture into this section, I will compare and contrast various situations where one may prove beneficial over the other.

Anyone who suffers from eczema understands how different environments can aggravate or soothe the condition. 

Let’s consider the air purifier first. This device is excellent at removing impurities such as dust, pollen, and pet dander from the air — common irritants that can worsen eczema symptoms [1]

On the other hand, a humidifier can also be an excellent ally for people with eczema. It increases the humidity in the room, which can alleviate dryness and reduce flare-ups, as dry air can exacerbate eczema [2]

Therefore, an air purifier might be beneficial if you’re living in a highly polluted area or have an allergy. Conversely, if dry air worsens your eczema, a humidifier might be a better choice. Personal needs and specific circumstances will guide your decision.

Air Purifier or Humidifier for Sinus
Credit: Everyday Health

Struggling with sinus issues can be daunting, and the type of air you breathe plays a significant role. 

Air purifiers are known for their power in reducing airborne pollutants, including allergens, dust, and smoke. Therefore, if your sinus problems are triggered by allergies, an air purifier can help alleviate these symptoms. 

But dry air can also cause sinus discomfort. When the air is too dry, it can dry out the sinuses and make them more susceptible to infection [3]. In this case, a humidifier would be the more suitable option, helping to maintain moisture in the nasal passage. 

The choice between an air purifier and a humidifier for sinus problems relies heavily on the specific triggers of your sinus issues, whether allergens or dry air.

When considering which device would suit my mother’s asthma the best, both air purifiers and humidifiers come to mind. 

Air purifiers, as their name suggests, purify indoor air by removing irritants and allergens like dust, pet dander, and smoke, which can often exacerbate asthma symptoms [4]. My mother could greatly benefit from such a reduction of irritants.

Conversely, humidifiers maintain optimal moisture levels in the environment. Dry air is known to irritate the airways and can trigger asthma attacks. However, excessive humidity could become a breeding ground for mold and dust mites, potentially worsening my mother’s asthma.

Given these considerations, an air purifier seems safer and more effective for people with asthma. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier for Allergies

Air Purifier is Better for Allergies

Air quality can have a significant impact on allergies. Poor air quality, and exceptionally high levels of air pollution, can exacerbate allergy symptoms and increase the risk of developing allergies. Polluted air can contain a variety of irritants and allergens, including pollen, dust, and mold spores, which can cause some allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

So, should we choose an air purifier or humidifier for allergies?

In my opinion, air purifiers are generally better for allergies than humidifiers to prevent allergic factors. They can remove allergens and pollutants from the air. Especially air purifiers with a HEPA filter are particularly effective at removing small particles like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

Humidifiers can help alleviate dryness and congestion and do not remove allergens from the air. In fact, if too much is maintained, humidifiers can worsen allergies by creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

If you are looking for a product for allergy relief, I advise you to choose an air purifier with a HEPA filter. However, if you also have some problems with dryness or congestion, an air purifier creating humidity will be a good option.

Check out Hometoppicks’ review of air purifiers if you want a quick list to buy an excellent device for your home.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier for Baby

Both Air Purifier and Humidifier are good for Babies

Babies inhale more air per unit of body weight than adults, making them more susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution. Pollution may make the developing organs and immune systems of babies vulnerable.

Therefore, exposure to air pollution can lead to various health problems in infants. They can affect babies’ cognitive development by harming their developing brains. Moreover, they can cause respiratory infections, asthma, and even premature death.

If your family has a new baby, you should have a high-quality air purifier or humidifier. Both air purifiers and humidifiers can be beneficial for babies in different ways.

Air purifiers can help clean the air, particularly for babies with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, air purifiers that work with low noise are better for babies.

Humidifiers, however, can help alleviate dryness and congestion in babies, especially in winter or dry climates. However, it’s good to maintain 30 – 50% humidity in the baby’s room. Moreover, excessive humidity can be hazardous and serve as a haven for bacteria and mold.

Consider your baby’s specific needs if you’re wondering whether to decide on an air purifier or humidifier for babies. You can also buy a product combining these two devices.

My sister has a baby boy, and he suffers from symptoms related to dry air like his mom. And then, my sister prioritized using a humidifier to improve humidity for both of them.

Discover the best humidifiers in the Philippines in my in-depth review post. I’m sure you can find a suitable choice for your family on whichever budget level you have.

5

FAQs

Which is better: an air purifier or a humidifier?

It’s inaccurate to categorically state that one is better than the other, as air purifiers and humidifiers cater to different needs. An air purifier is more suitable when the goal is to filter out pollutants and allergens from the air. At the same time, a humidifier is ideal for adding moisture to the air in dry environments.

Can I use an air purifier and humidifier together?

Yes, both an air purifier and a humidifier can be used together in a room. The air purifier would work to remove pollutants and allergens. At the same time, the humidifier adds moisture to the air, making it a beneficial combination, especially for individuals with allergies or respiratory problems.

How do I know if I need a humidifier?

Potential indications that one may need a humidifier include symptoms like constantly dry skin, a persistently dry, scratchy throat, frequent nosebleeds, or noticing that wood furniture or floors are cracking due to a lack of humidity in the environment.
However, confirming that a humidifier is needed should involve checking the actual humidity level in the home, for which a hygrometer or smart home device integrated with a humidity sensor can be used.

6

Final Thoughts

Air Purifier vs Humidifier

In summary, I believe that humidifiers and air purifiers are beneficial appliances that can enhance indoor air quality and encourage a healthy atmosphere.

Air purifiers can help remove pollutants and irritants from the air, which can be particularly helpful for allergies, babies, and elders. Besides, humidifiers can help alleviate dryness and congestion in winter or dry climates.

Consider your specific demands and budget when deciding between an air purifier and a humidifier. Air purifiers are the best choice for families with bad air quality or people with allergies and asthma. Humidity is better for dry places or people experiencing dryness or congestion.

Ultimately, choosing a high-quality, well-reviewed product and following the manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance is also important. Hope that article gives you some useful information to help distinguish an air purifier vs a humidifier.

  1. NHS UK – Eczema Triggers and Environment
  2. National Eczema Association – Eczema and Dry Skin
  3. MedicalNewsToday – Treatments and remedies for dry sinuses
  4. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. (n.d.). “Asthma Triggers and What to do About Them.”

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Beryl
Beryl

Beryl, a Pharmacy graduate, combines her academic expertise with a passion for cozy homes at Hometoppicks. With 3+ years of experience in researching and testing household and home care products, Beryl manages related content at Hometoppicks. Trust in her meticulous nature and profound knowledge to provide reliable advice and product suggestions, ensuring your home remains comfortable and convenient. You can find more about her here.

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