A question I come across often in improving indoor air quality is whether someone should get a humidifier. Sometimes this question comes from people who are clueless about what a humidifier does, but they happen to have heard that it somehow makes the air better. However, most of the time I see it asked by people who are simply unsure about the many ways humidifiers can help them.
To answer your question clearly, I am going to go into detail about the reasons you should and should not get a humidifier, but before I do, briefly put,
“Should you get a humidifier?” Of the many reasons you should get a humidifier, they can all be summed up as two reasons. The first is to protect yourself and any living thing and the second is to protect any non-living valuables from dry indoor air respectively. Ultimately, you should get a humidifier to avoid the damaging effects of dry air.
Humidifiers are made to add moisture to your indoor air and help you alter the level of indoor humidity to a level of your choosing. By doing so, their primary purpose is to help you combat the negative effects of dry air. The ideal humidity range for most things, including us as humans, is between 30% to 60% relative humidity.
Typically, you should only need to get a humidifier when your indoor air drops below 30% relative humidity, however sometimes even when the air is not dry and well within the ideal range humidifiers can be used for certain situations whereby relative humidity needs to be above 60%.
Such situations are obviously not common but for anyone curious, I list these and all the common reasons I have come across for getting a humidifier in this post. Even though I found the reasons to be a bit of a stretch, if you get to the end of this post you will find I have also shared the few reasons you should not get a humidifier that I have encountered.
So if you are wondering whether you should get humidifier for whatever reasons, I wrote this post just for you and if you don’t get your answer here and you believe I missed something, express your concerns in the comments section below and I will do all I can to guide you to the best of my knowledge on this topic.
16 Reasons You Should Get A Humidifier
There are many reasons you should get a humidifier. In my quest to find all the reasons anyone should get a humidifier, I found 16 distinct reasons. Some reasons are obvious and linked to each and others do overlap but are distinct regardless, and others might just surprise you.
As you may have guessed, most of the reasons are to do with the adverse consequences of dry air. If I were to categorize the reasons, I would put them in two categories. As I mentioned earlier, the first would be to get a humidifier because of its benefits to you and almost all living things in your environment and the second would be because of its benefits to your built environment and various things we keep in our homes or work spaces.
With that said, let me now take you through the details of what I believe are all the reasons you should get a humidifier.
1. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
The most common reason I came across for getting a humidifier is to keep your skin moisturized. Be it your hands, feet, face or lips, humidifiers will help you keep skin around your entire body moisturized. It’s winter where I am as I write this post and I am in a constant battle against my face and hands drying up.
I apply three layers of lotion and still my skin dries up like a pickle and feels annoyingly tight. Our air gets dry for many reasons besides the weather and if for whatever reason the humidity level in your environment drops below 30% for a prolonged period, your skin will get irritatingly to a point whereby even the best moisturizing lotions in the world may barely help.
Below humidity levels of 30% any finite amount of moisture on your skin, be it your body’s natural moisture or any moisturizing product you apply, evaporates quickly, leaving you with tight, chapped and ashy skin. So the best solution to avoid your skin getting dry is to bring in something that will constantly add enough moisture in your indoor environment and restore your evaporation rate to an adequate level.
This is where humidifiers come in. With the right humidifier, you can easily raise your indoor humidity level above 30% and maintain it in the comfortable range for human skin of between 40% to 60%. Humidifiers obviously won’t help if you are mostly outdoors but sit in a humidified room for an hour during the dry season and you won’t help but notice how much more moisturized and comfortable your skin feels compared to places you spend time in that are not humidified.
2. Reduce Your Nosebleeds
If you are a nose-bleeder like me, one thing you are bound to pick up on is that when you are in a country, season or environment with dryer air, you bleed more frequently and more easily. You may also have never had nosebleeds before and then maybe when you moved to a new city, you suddenly started nose bleeding.
Often, you can blame the dry air for your sudden nose bleeding if you are from a relatively humid country or town and move to a relatively dry one. The dry air sucks up all the moisture in your nostrils and then the very sensitive skin under which you have a vast network of tiny arteries in your nasal cavity tears because it just does not have enough moisture to remain stretchy.
Then once the skin up your nostrils tears, the underlying arteries also rupture, causing your nose to bleed. To avoid all this, one effective approach is to use a humidifier wherever possible. Humidifiers are especially effective if you spend a lot of time indoors.
They will artificially increase and maintain your humidity at a comfortable level for your nose, ensuring you are always breathing in moist air, which adds rather than absorbs moisture from your nostrils. If you have the common dry air triggered nosebleed, with a humidifier in place you should get far less nose bleeds.
If your nosebleeds don't improve even after trying a humidifier, then it's best you see a doctor. Also, if you have never consulted a doctor about your nosebleeds before, better consult one before turning to a humidifier for any relief.
3. Protect Your Throat
Another part of your body that does not do well without enough air moisture is your throat. For some people, when humidity levels are low, they easily develop scratchy and dry throats. Dry air might even make you sound hoarse and at times cause you to suddenly lose your voice.
To prevent all this, a good humidifier can go a long way. By adding moisture to your air, a humidifier subsequently lubricates and soothes your throat as you breathe in and out over time.
In fact, professional singers commonly turn to humidifiers to ease vocal dryness. So you should certainly look into getting a humidifier if, for whatever reason, you are trying to deal with a dry throat.
4. Soothe Your Sinuses
If you are prone to sinus problems, and you are or have been to a place where the air is dry, you can’t help but notice how your sinus problems flare up in tandem with the dryness. Many people with sinus issues get headaches, pressure and stuffy noses due to really dry air.
This happens because without enough moisture, your mucus does not flow fast enough in your nose, leading to congestion and all kinds of sinus problems. In other words, your sinuses are less likely to cause you problems if your humidity level is high enough, making a humidifier a handy tool for you to have if you have sinus problems and you are facing dry air conditions.
5. Halt the Spread of Flu, COVID and Other Airborne Germs
There is more than enough information out there on the benefits of humidity in fighting against the spread flu. Based on the exact principle by which spreading the flu bug is reduced at higher humidity levels, you can also reduce spreading of other airborne germs and diseases.
So, how does this all work? According to scientific research, as humidity levels rise, you find respiratory particles grow faster and fall to the ground earlier than when the air is drier. This means as your air becomes more moist, chances of viral and infectious particles travelling from one person to another decrease.
After hearing this, my immediate thought was why had I not been using a humidifier, especially during those long cold winters when people around me come down with colds and I never fail to catch it.
If there is anything out there that reduces the chances of me catching an airborne disease and I can afford it, it just makes sense to get it. If these are your thoughts as well, then here’s another reason you should get a humidifier.
6. Counter Airborne Allergies
Based on the same science involved in slowing down airborne disease aerosols or droplets, moisture in the air also slows and weighs down solid airborne particulates, including those that cause allergies. Compared to when your air is dry, dust, pollen and other solid air particles stick to each other and fall to the ground more easily.
This significantly reduces their presence in your air and your exposure to them, which is fantastic for you if you are prone to airborne allergies. So based on what I’ve just explained, if you have dry air issues in your indoor environment, you’ll be wise to get yourself a humidifier and keep one running around you whenever you are indoors.
7. Prevent Dry Eyes
One thing I have often suffered during dry winters, especially when I am in a room with air conditioning or HVAC heating for an extended period, is eye irritations. Some people's eyes burn, some people complain of itchiness, but personally I feel like there are tiny stone specs in my eye.
I’ve tried dealing with these by putting water in my eyes and hydrating eye drops, but I’ve never gotten instant relief from any of these solutions. The best thing you can do for yourself if you get dry eyes is to prevent this from happening in the first place and a well-selected humidifier will help you do just that. A humidifier is a worthwhile investment if you are highly susceptible to dry eyes.
8. Alleviate Various Respiratory Disease Symptoms
I have already pointed out how humidifiers can help soothe your sinuses. Well, by adding moisture into your air, they also soothe various other respiratory conditions such as COPD, colds and at times even asthma. The reason humidifiers help is because they lubricate your respiratory system, which when otherwise left exposed to dry air become rather irritated and more susceptible to disease symptoms.
That said, humidifiers can aggravate other health issues. For instance, migraines are usually associated with higher humidity levels. So, for this point, I strongly suggest you consult your doctor well before you use a humidifier to ease any medical condition. That way, instead of blindly following general information around the internet, you avoid unnecessarily worsening your health.
9. Help With Snoring
I was surprised when I heard this for the first time and it will probably surprise you to learn this too, DRY AIR CONTRIBUTES TO SNORING. How so? Simply put, over exposure to dry air, especially while you sleep, gets you nasally congested and makes your throat swell.
Once that happens, the flow of air through your respiratory system becomes restricted, causing you to excessively breathe through your mouth and eventually snore.
To avoid or minimize the chances of snoring in this way, a humidifier can accordingly help to considerably lubricate your airways. So if you have dry air related snoring, this is yet another unquestionable reason to get a humidifier.
10. Keep Your Baby Comfortable
I have so far elaborated on all the bodily benefits of humidifiers to humans. These benefits not only apply to adults but also to babies and as a parent you will save your newborn or toddler a lot of discomfort by using a humidifier in their room.
They breathe better; it does wonders for their skin, and they will probably sleep better too. So you should get a humidifier if you have a baby around your home that you want to keep comfortable. Just keep your humidity in the 40% to 60% range to avoid any complications.
11. Make Your Home Or Office Warmer
Something you are bound to notice if you are observant is that a cold indoor environment is usually synonymous with dry indoor air. Accordingly, when there is more moisture in the air, a room feels warmer. This is so because our bodies cool down by losing water through evaporation.
However, when there is a lot of moisture in the air, evaporation does not happen as fast as your air is already full of water. So if your body is not losing water so much through evaporation, then it is no longer effectively cooling down and if you are not really cooling down, you end up feeling warmer.
This effect also works really well when you are indoors in winter and the best way to increase your indoor moisture so you can feel warmer during winter is by using a humidifier. The effect works so well that you end up feeling warmer at lower heating temperatures. In fact, for this reason, it’s widely advised to run a humidifier alongside your heating system in winter to help lower your heating cost.
So you should get yourself a humidifier if you want not just a warmer indoor environment but a warmer space at a lower heating cost.
12. Keep Your Houseplants Healthy
Just like humans, most plants require the right amount of moisture to thrive. The comfortable humidity range for house plants is from 20% to 60% but most common house plants will be happy between the 40% to 50% range, which is also ideal for humans.
If your humidity falls too low, you will quickly see the negative impact on your plants. Some plants will lose leaves, others will have their leaves wilt and dry, some may develop diseases, others will show stunted growth and some may ultimately die. To avoid all this, get a humidifier so you can ensure you keep plants healthy by providing them with adequate humidity even through dry air seasons.
13. Protect Your Home
Another thing in your life that can get damaged if left without adequate moisture is your home. When I talk about your home, I am referring not just to your home’s physical frame but also to the fittings, finishes, and furniture in your home. If the air gets too dry, these can all get damaged.
The worst is wooden furniture and fittings. Dry air can cause these to twist and wrap, as it easily sucks every bit of moisture out of wood. With inadequate moisture, don’t get shocked when you wake up to your wooden floors or furniture cracked or twisted.
I once stayed in a house with wooden floors where the wood shrank so much there were gaps between sections of the floorboards that were so wide my smart phone could fall through into the crawl space. I’m not even gonna mention how creaky the floor got throughout the house. I really did not know dry air could cause such serious damage to a home.
Other parts of your building that get damaged include wallpaper and paint, which eventually peel off your walls. To avoid all these damaging effects of dry air, there are a couple steps you can take, but in this article’s context a humidifier and more specifically a whole house humidifier, will go a long way in preventing dry air from damaging the interior of your prized building and its furnishing.
14. Protect Your Musical Instruments
As we make some musical instruments out of wood, you can imagine the impact dry conditions can have on them. Be it a violin, guitar or piano, if your instrument was never acclimatized to your country or city’s weather, it is likely to firstly go out of tune and then eventually wrap and twist if exposed for too long to dry air.
Some instruments are built with their location specific weather conditions in mind and are acclimatized, but if you are worried yours is not, then it’s a good idea to store your instrument in a place where you can maintain a good level of humidity. For most instruments, this will be between 35% and 50% relative humidity and you can easily achieve this with a reliable humidifier on hand.
15. Keep Your Electronics Safe
Ever touched your laptop or car door or someone and suddenly been electrocuted? That’s static electricity, and it’s a common occurrence in winter when the air is dry. For the most part, static is just an annoyance everyone tries to avoid, but with electronic gadgets, static can actually damage computers and other electronics, especially those with a metal casing.
Luckily, adding moisture to your air is an easy fix for static and you can quickly get rid of static with a decent humidifier. So, a good reason to get a humidifier is if you wanna get rid of static in your home or office.
16. Helps Keep Pets healthy
Depending on what pet you have, you might need to provide your pet with additional moisture not just during a dry season but throughout the year. If you own reptiles, you will find some reptiles like corn snakes are pretty comfortable in the 30% to 50% humidity range and you just have to run a humidifier when your relative humidity drops below 30%.
However, other reptiles like Leopard Geckos or Bearded Dragons need humidity levels to be way up around 80% to 90% for them to thrive. In such a case, you definitely need a humidifier, but it is not practical to have one that sets your entire room at such high humidity, otherwise your room will just be soaking and damp. The solution here is to get a mini humidifier that you can easily fit in your pet’s vivarium or living environment.
As for other pets like birds, for instance, most just need you to stick in the 40% to 60% humidity range which is perfect for humans too and in this case you can simply run a room humidifier if the air gets too dry and your humidity level drops below 40%. So in conclusion to the reasons you should look into getting a humidifier, you should finally get one if you would like to easily maintain an optimal humidity level for your pet.
7 Reasons You Should Not Get A Humidifier
When you are deciding whether to get a humidifier, besides the reasons for getting one, you obviously also need to know every valid reason you shouldn't. As compared to reasons for getting a humidifier, I found far fewer reasons anyone should not get one. Let’s look at these reasons.
1. White Dust
White dust has got to be the main reason anyone should avoid humidifiers. If you use normal tap water with most types of humidifiers, you will find they eventually release a white dust like substance in your air and the dust finally settles on surfaces around your work or living space.
The dust comes from the natural minerals found in tap water, and as your humidifier releases fine water particles in your air and the water particles evaporate, the water particles leave behind these minerals as a by-product. Though the side effects of breathing in this dust are not clear, the dust is said to be potentially dangerous, especially if you have existing respiratory issues.
Based on this, many people avoid getting humidifiers. That said, you can now get humidifiers that do not produce mineral dust and also if you use distilled water, you solve the problem as distilled water is natural water stripped of its mineral content. So if you must have a humidifier but cannot cope with the white dust for whatever reason, explore your options with the two solutions I have just mentioned.
2. Extra Cleaning Chore
Another reason you should not get a humidifier is if you have a busy schedule and you do not want to add an extra appliance to clean on your list of chores. Most types of humidifiers out there can be tedious to clean and the consequences of not cleaning them include spreading of mold and bacteria in your air.
Spreading bacteria in your air could then subsequently make you sick and not cleaning your humidifier might damage it if you use untreated water directly from your tap to operate your humidifier. If your humidifier gets damaged because you failed to clean it regularly, then what’s the point in getting one. Ultimately, this all means you should avoid getting a humidifier if you won’t have time to clean it.
3. Risk of Burns
The next reason you should not get a humidifier is specific to a particular type of humidifier called a warm mist humidifier. These types of humidifiers work by heating water and emitting steam into a room. There are many advantages to this type of humidifier, but if you have pets and kids around, the steam they emit and the appliance itself can get so hot it can burn a child or pet.
This is the last thing you want to happen when you bring an appliance into your home and for this reason you should avoid getting a humidifier and specifically a warm mist humidifier. If you have kids and pets around and you barely manage to keep track of them and you need a humidifier, rather go for a cool mist humidifier to avoid burn accidents.
4. Bacteria and Fungus
I already alluded to bacteria, mold and fungus earlier when I talked about cleaning, but this is another reason you should not get a humidifier that should be highlighted and stand on its own. Humidifiers, especially cool mist humidifiers, are a haven for bacteria, mold and fungus if not well maintained and they are very good at spreading these in your air through the vapor they release.
This is not a major cause for concern if you and anyone who gets exposed to your humidifier has a strong immune system and you regularly clean your humidifier but when you have anyone with a weak immune system including pets in the vicinity, they are at high risk of succumbing to any bacterial or fungal disease dispersed into your air by your humidifier however little in quantity.
So, avoid humidifiers if you have anyone with a weak immune system and any doubt you can keep them clean and from developing even the slightest amount of bacteria, fungus or mold.
5. Excess Moisture
A complaint I see often with humidifiers is that they make everything wet. There are many reasons this happens. Often it's because a humidifier does not have a humidistat, which allows it to self regulate not to let out too much moisture out into your indoor air, but sometimes it may just be because your humidifier’s humidistat has malfunctioned.
Whatever the case, there is a risk of you having excess moisture in your home whenever you run a humidifier and this can cause all kinds of problems to your furniture, your health and other things you keep like books, musical instruments, clothes, etc.. Everything gets soggy and damp and if this goes on long enough, you get funny odors and mold and bacteria growing where they should not.
The risks of excess moisture if you have a humidifier with a humidistat are low. However, if you can’t afford to have excess moisture in your indoor space and can’t take any chances, then this is a reason for you to avoid humidifiers.
Not all humidifiers make noise, but most types of humidifiers do. The only type I know for sure won’t make noticeable background noise is an ultrasonic humidifier. All the other types of humidifiers will make some noticeable noises which can be distracting or annoying if you cannot tolerate noise in your home or workspace.
For most humidifiers, the noise comes from their fan and you will have to put up with a background humming noise. If you cannot deal with that either because the noise will keep you up at night or just disrupt your level of focus, it is reason enough not to get a humidifier. However, if you absolutely must have one and you want the quietest possible humidifier, then you better go for an ultrasonic humidifier.
7. You Live In A High Humidity Zone
This reason is so obvious, but I have to mention it in case anyone has any doubts. If you live in a tropical region where humidity levels are almost always high, above 45%, then you should not waste your time getting a humidifier. As a humidifier adds moisture to your indoor environment, where your humidity levels are always higher than 45% then you do not really need one.
It will pretty much be a waste of electricity. There are few exceptions where you might need a humidifier in a humidity region, but most of the time, these are rather special circumstances. For instance, you might get one if you have a room full of pets like lizards that enjoy humidity levels of above 60% or you are growing moisture loving mushrooms.
These circumstances are far from common, whether you are in a really dry or humid part of the world. Accordingly, if you live in an extremely humid part of the world, you will waste your money buying a humidifier for general use.