Air Purifier vs Humidifier: A Comprehensive Guide to Cleaner Air

Air purifiers and humidifiers are household and business products that enhance indoor air quality. This article will explore the fundamental distinctions between air purifier vs humidifier and assist you in determining which is best for your needs. We will go through:

Quick Comparison

An air purifier is an air-cleaning device that uses filters or other technologies to remove contaminants from polluted air. These pollutants include pet dander, dust particles, pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and tobacco smoke.

  • An air purifier can improve indoor air quality, making it clean and fresh to breathe.
  • A humidifier is a device that provides moisture to dry air. Dry air can be caused by central heating or air conditioning, leading to dry skin, static electricity, and even worsening respiratory conditions such as asthma or allergies. 
  • A humidifier can help reduce these issues by raising the air’s humidity, making breathing more comfortable.

Air Purifier vs Humidifier Comparison Chart

Air Purifier



Removes pollutants and contaminants from air

Increases humidity in the air


HEPA, Activated Carbon, UV, Ionizing

Cool mist, Warm mist, Ultrasonic

Suitable for:

Allergies, asthma, smoke, pet dander, mold

Dry air, sinus congestion, dry skin, cold symptoms


Requires periodic filter replacement

Requires frequent cleaning and water refills


Uses filters to capture pollutants

Uses water to create mist

What Does an Air Purifier or Humidifier Help With?

Both an air purifier and a humidifier are known for bringing fresh air into a room. However, they also offer a variety of other advantages, as detailed below.

Benefits of Air Purifiers

Air purifiers have a lot of benefits, some of which include the following:

Benefits of Air Purifiers
  • Removes airborne particles: Air purifiers remove particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and other allergens from the indoor air.
  • Reduces odor: Air purifiers can eliminate pungent smells from cooking, cigarette smoking, and pet odors.
  • Improves the quality of air: Air purifiers can assist in maintaining a clean home’s air by continuously eliminating pollutants that can cause respiratory issues.
  • Kills germs and bacteria: By removing germs, dust mites, and harmful bacteria from the indoor air, air purifiers limit the spread of pathogens and diseases.
  • Reduces asthma and allergy symptoms: Individuals with asthma symptoms or sensitive nasal passages can benefit from air purifiers since they can help reduce the possible triggers for these ailments.
  • Improves sleep: Air purifiers can help improve sleep by removing pollutants that cause cough and cold symptoms, including sinus congestion and stuffy nose.

Read Also: How Often to Change the Air Purifier Filter: 3 Dangers If Don’t Do This in Time

Benefits of Humidifiers

Humidifiers have a lot of advantages and benefits, such as:

Benefits of Humidifiers
  • Reduces static electricity: A humidifier is one way to reduce static electricity in the air. This is because static electricity often builds up in dry air, which can pose a risk to electronics.
  • Improves air quality: Humidifiers can minimize dust, allergens, and other airborne particles that might trigger asthma attacks and respiratory symptoms.
  • Relieves dry skin and eyes: Low humidity levels can cause skin and eyes to become dry and irritated. Using a humidifier to increase indoor humidity levels helps alleviate these symptoms.
  • Aids in healing: Dry air can cause the skin to become dry and cracked, slowing the healing process. A humidifier can aid in the healing process by keeping the air moistened.
  • Prevents furniture damage: Low indoor humidity levels can cause wood furniture to crack and split. A humidifier keeps the air humid, which can prevent furniture deterioration.
  • Improves sleep: Problems with the respiratory system, such as coughing and nasal congestion, can make it difficult to sleep in dry environments. Adding moisture to the air can facilitate easier breathing, leading to better sleep.

How Does an Air Purifier or Humidifier Work?

Air purifiers and humidifiers work to improve the quality of air in a space, but they do so in different ways as seen below.

How Does an Air Purifier Work?

Air purifiers use a fan to pull in dirty air. This outdoor air passes through a filter that removes contaminants such as pollen, bacteria, and smoke. The purified clean air is subsequently released to the room or building.

Most air purifiers include HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which can capture and remove 99.98% of particles measuring 0.032 microns or larger from the indoor air.

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Some air purifiers that use the carbon filtration process utilize activated carbon filters to trap a wide range of pollutants, resulting in cleaner indoor air. These filters have a large surface area and are porous, which allows them to absorb and trap pollutants effectively.

Other air purifiers use ultraviolet light to eliminate specific types of pollutants. UV light kills bacteria, viruses, and tiny microorganisms and can help reduce exposure to the triggers that affect asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Some air purifiers include additional features such as humidifiers and ozone generators to help reduce odors, break down certain chemicals, and kill germs responsible for causing cold symptoms.

How Does a Humidifier Work?

When the air in your home or office becomes too dry, causing the humidity levels to drop, a humidifier can help to restore optimal moisture levels. Humidifiers create water vapor from the distilled water stored in their tank. This cool, moist vapor is then released into the air. 

Depending on the type of humidifier, it may use either warm or cool mist or a combination of both. The amount of moisture released is determined by the humidifier’s design.

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A humidistat regulates the indoor humidity level. When the relative humidity level falls below the desired range, the humidifier automatically kicks on. It will then release moisture into the dry air to restore the desired levels.

However, to ensure the efficient performance of a humidifier, it is advisable to use distilled water. Tap water contains minerals that can leave a residue on the humidifier, and it’s best to avoid using it. Furthermore, this residue can cause wear and tear and provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Types of Air Purifiers

There are the following types of air purifiers.

1. HEPA Air Purifiers

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier is designed to provide high-quality air filtration. It uses a true HEPA filter to capture various pollutants, including pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and mold spores.

HEPA filters are constructed from a mesh of plastic and fiberglass threads. According to Environmental Protection Agency, these filters have the highest efficiency threshold. HEPA air purifiers are widely used in homes and offices.

2. Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon air purifiers use carbon filters to absorb odors and gases from the air. These purifiers effectively prevent asthma attacks by removing mold spores, dust, smoke, allergens, and airborne pollutants.

3. UV Air Purifiers

Ultraviolet (UV) air purifiers eliminate bacteria, germs, and other airborne microbes using UV light. These air purifiers are typically used in healthcare facilities to eliminate bacteria and prevent the spread of infections.

4. Ionizing Air Purifiers

Ionizing air purifiers rely on releasing charged ions into the air to trap and neutralize pollutants. Consequently, dust and airborne allergens bond to these negatively charged ions. When the charged particles become heavy, they fall to the ground, removing them from the air.

These purifiers are often small and lightweight, making them the best portable air purifiers. They are easy to transport and the right air purifier for anyone who is always moving.

Types of Humidifiers

Check the types of humidifiers!

1. Warm Mist Humidifiers

These are evaporative humidifiers. They produce a warm vapor by heating water into hot steam and then dispersing it into the air.

A warm mist humidifier can increase a room’s relative humidity, alleviating allergy and asthma symptoms and helping reduce stuffy noses.

Warm mist humidifiers do not use a fan to disperse the mist, so they are generally quieter. They function most effectively in small, confined places, like bedrooms and small offices.

2. Cool Mist Humidifiers

These humidifiers work by dispersing mist into the surrounding air using a fan. They raise the relative humidity in the air, which can help to soothe dry nasal passages and relieve a stuffy nose.

Many people prefer having a cool mist humidifier for its ease of use and maintenance. They are often used in larger spaces, such as living rooms or offices, to help improve the quality of air.

3. Ultrasonic Humidifiers

These humidifiers create a fine mist of water droplets using high-frequency vibration, which is subsequently dispersed into the air. This mist assists in raising the humidity level of an area.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are often very quiet, making them a suitable choice in a bedroom or other quiet space. It is also relatively simple to maintain and clean.

Places to Avoid Putting Your Air Purifier and Humidifier

For an air purifier or humidifier to effectively make the air clean, it is essential to position the device in an optimal area. However, there are specific locations where air purifiers and humidifiers should not be placed to avoid reducing their efficacy or causing damage to the unit.

Air Purifier

Avoid placing your purifier in next places:

  1. Near a window or door. These areas allow outside air into the entire house and can rapidly replace the purified air.
  2. Close to a heat source, as this can cause the device to overwork and become less effective.
  3. In a crowded or congested space. When there is adequate room for air circulation, air purifiers perform optimally.

For a portable air purifier, handling and transporting it carefully is essential. Make sure to position it in strategic areas that will enable it to purify the air effectively.

The optimal location for an air purifier is in a central location in the room, away from windows, doors, heat sources, and clutter.


Humidifiers should not be positioned:

  1. Next to a window or air vent. These inlets allow dry air from outside to get in and can quickly replace the humid air being produced.
  2. In a moist area. Damp places have high humidity, which can quickly rise to unhealthy levels. You should always adjust the setting to ensure that the level remains healthy.
  3. In areas with poor ventilation. These areas can create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

Above all, it is best to place the humidifier in a central location in the room. This will allow the moisture to be evenly distributed throughout the room.

Air purifier and Humidifier in a Single Device

The need for clean air has led to the development of a single machine that combines most of the essential features of air purifiers and humidifiers into one device. This ensures a continuous clean air supply in any room.

Such a device would use a HEPA filter to remove impurities from the air and a built-in humidifying mechanism to add moisture to the air, giving the user clean, comfortable air.

Which is Better for Improving Air Quality?: An Air Purifier or Humidifier

The decision between buying an air purifier or a humidifier is a tough one. The reason behind this tough decision is that they both have their advantages.

If you want to reduce allergens and pollutants in the air, an air purifier with a HEPA filter is the best option. On the other hand, if you want to increase the humidity in the air and reduce dryness in your skin and sinuses, then a humidifier is the best option.

However, having both an air purifier and a humidifier can have even greater overall benefits.

Frequent Asked Questions

Can we have both an air purifier and a humidifier in the same room?

Yes. Both a humidifier and an air purifier can be in the same space without causing any issues. If you use both of them simultaneously, you will achieve the highest possible level of air quality.

Is it good to sleep with an air purifier?

Yes. Having an air purifier in your bedroom while you sleep does have its advantages. The air purifier will maintain the room’s air quality, giving you a good night’s sleep.

Is it good to sleep with a humidifier?

Yes. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, making it more comfortable to breathe. Sleeping with it can benefit people suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions. However, ensure to keep the humidifier clean and in a secure place to prevent the spread of bacteria and mold.

Final Thoughts

Using air purifiers and humidifiers can help improve indoor air quality and provide several health benefits. Therefore, the best solution is to buy two devices at once or a 2-in-1 device.

Please share in the comments which device won for you in the comparison of air purifier vs humidifier? Let us know which topics you would like us to cover next.