when to use humidifier

When Should I Use A Humidifier? 11 Key Situations

when to use humidifiers

There are many times and places when you should use a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and there are enough situations when you would need to do this. 

Before I dive into the details, let me answer your question in short.

In short, when should I use a humidifier? Humidifiers should mainly be used when indoor relative humidity needs to be maintained at between 30-60%, which is the ideal range for most living and nonliving things. Besides this, humidifiers should also be used when moisture is needed for a cooling process or when humidity levels beyond 60% are required.

You should not only use humidifiers when you need to maintain your ideal range of humidity, but also when you need to regulate temperature. There is more to using humidifiers than the eye can see and in this post I share with you both the common and overlooked details of when you should use humidifiers. 

My list is not exhaustive, but it will certainly open your eyes to situations when you should use a humidifier you may never have fathomed. Get through my list and I am pretty sure you will be confident about identifying and deciding on when you should use a humidifier or not.

1. When The Humidity Level Drops Below 30 Percent.

The ideal humidity level for humans and most valuables when you are indoors is between 30% to 60%. If your humidity level drops below 30% for whatever reason, the air becomes too dry for humans and a lot of other things kept indoors with potentially damaging effects.

As a humidifier’s function is to add moisture to your air and, by doing so, it’s able to increase your indoor humidity level you should use a humidifier when your humidity drops below 30%.

Doing this will increase your humidity above 30% and consequently prevent the damaging effects of drier indoor air when your relative humidity is below 30%.

That said, make sure you keep your relative humidity below 60% when using a humidifier, otherwise the air becomes too moist with potentially negative consequences. 

Most humidifiers come with a regulator called a humidistat that will maintain your humidity at your desired level. Regardless, to be on the safe side, you can use a hygrometer to make sure your humidity is in the safe range of 30% to 60%.

2. When The Air Feels Dry

When the air indoors feels dry, even though your humidity level is between the suitable 30% to 60% range, it's a good time to use your humidifier. Sometimes when humidity levels are ok, my mouth feels dry, my eyes feel irritated, I get a headache and even my skin feels tight.

Perhaps it is because I am dehydrated and there is not enough moisture in my body for whatever reason. Sometimes you might be in a room for a while while an air conditioner is running and if your body is not well hydrated, you may feel the effects of dryness as the air-con sucks up moisture from your air and body.

Under these circumstances, I’ve found that adding a little more moisture to your air helps. So if my air is feeling dry and I measure my humidity with a hygrometer and my humidity level is around 40% then I use a humidifier to crank it up to about 45% to 50% and that usually gets the air moist enough to stop me feeling dry.

Give this a shot next time your air feels dry and let me know in the comments below how it goes.

3. When It's Hot

When the weather is boiling, even when it is humid and hot, most of the time I just feel like jumping into a cold shower or a pool. I’m almost always craving the cooling effect of cold water on my skin. 

Well, you can get this same cooling effect from a humidifier. You should specifically go for a cool mist humidifier which disperses fine and cold water droplets into your air. 

Outdoor models of these humidifiers which you can place on your patio are also available. In fact, they are better known as misting fans and they can be in all shapes and sizes. So, reflecting on all this, use a humidifier when it is hot to help you cool down and keep cool.

4. When Its Cold

You would think because a humidifier helps you cool down, it makes little sense to use it when it is cold. How the hell does it also warm you up when it cools you down too? I also didn’t get how all this works initially. Let me try to explain.

When it's cold, you feel cold because a lot of moisture is evaporating off your body and skin to compensate for the lack of moisture in your ambient air. As water evaporates off your skin, it leaves your skin feeling cold. 

Keeping all this in mind, if you then add more moisture to your ambient air from another source that is not your body, you slow down the evaporation of moisture from your body as you now have enough moisture in your air. 

As a result, you then feel warmer as there is less evaporation happening from your skin. In view of this, if it so happens you were using a heater to warm yourself up, you will feel even warmer at the same temperature just because there is more moisture in your air and your humidity is higher.

All this, however, only works when your winter is dry. If your winter is humid with humidity levels between 40 and 60%, then using a humidifier won’t help you feel warmer.

Based on this, use your humidifier specifically when it's cold and dry and not cold and humid to help you feel warmer and also save on heating costs as you feel warmer at lower temperatures.

5. When You Are Sick Or Preventing Illness

I mentioned earlier that dry air can have a damaging impact on humans. Most of the damage is in the form of illnesses. When the air is dry, you are more prone to a host of illnesses including,

  • Allergies  
  • Influenza
  • Throat problems
  • Coughs
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry skin
  • Dry eyes
  • Asthma attacks

A lot of the problems are upper respiratory and skin related and they are all because the air is excessively sucking the moisture out of your skin as there is not enough moisture in your ambient air.

With enough moisture in your air, your skin remains hydrated as its moisture does not evaporate to make up for lack of moisture in the air and so your eyes and skin don’t get dry and irritated. 

You also decrease the spread of influenza and airborne allergens as moisture makes these airborne disease particles denser and fall to ground faster before you inhale them. Added moisture also improves the performance of your cilia, which help keep pollutant and infectious particles out of your respiratory system. 

Then should you fall sick, and get dry skin or a respiratory problem, higher humidity levels between 30% to 60% relative humidity help to ease the symptoms of your illness. So be sure to get a humidifier to effectively fight against illnesses.

6. When Preventing Pets From Getting Sick

Similar to human beings, animals living indoors be it in your home, dog kennel or some pet hotel benefit from adequate humidity levels. If the air is too dry, they will also have respiratory and skin issues.

Furry and feathery animals may have more dandruff, and lizards may have extremely flaky skin and can even die. Birds in particular can have life-threatening breathing problems. 

As for lizards, some types of lizards need extremely high humidity levels in their terrarium of up to 90% relative humidity. Accordingly, you wanna have a humidifier running to provide adequate humidity for your pets and for some pets you additionally need one that fits in their enclosure.

7. When Protecting Furniture And Buildings From Dry Air

When you see your wooden floors and furniture shrinking or twisting, you know that you have a dry air problem. The problem can get so bad you eventually see cracks in your walls, wall paper tearing and even your window panes shifting. 

With enough humidity in your air (30%-60%), you can prevent all this from happening and what better way to increase humidity indoors than using a humidifier. Use a humidifier when ensuring your home or building and your furniture thereof are in good condition. 

8. When Protecting Certain Valuables

A lot of things we keep indoors are prone to damage if your air gets too dry. The damage happens because either dry air sucks much needed moisture in these objects or causes static electricity, which damages your valuables and particularly electronic valuables.

Something I have observed, and that has been scientifically proven, is dry air causing static electricity. When my air gets really dry, especially in winter, I totally experience more static.

If you are not careful and you happen to touch an exposed electronic gadget whilst your hands are statically charged, you can short circuit your gadget and that will be the end of it. People have gone as far as losing laptops to static.

Then, from a moisture perspective, if your humidity is too low, things like your books, musical instruments, antiques and paintings dry up to a point they shrink, lose shape, their bindings come loose or they twist and crack. Additionally, if you have house plants, they can wither and die without adequate humidity.

An easy way to prevent all this is to ensure your humidity level stays between 30%-60% and this is yet another situation when you should use a humidifier.

9. When Disinfecting and Cleaning Your Air

A situation that is often overlooked that calls for using a humidifier is when you are disinfecting your air. I think we might overlook humidifiers in this regard because we usually refer to these types of humidifier to as a fogger. Call it a fogger or humidifier, it's all the same. 

To sanitize and disinfect your air with a humidifier, you simply add air disinfecting and sanitizing liquid in your humidifiers water as per usage instructions provided and run your humidifier and as this mixture is dispersed in your indoor space, it cleanses it from all sorts airborne diseases and pollutants.

10. When Doing Certain Beauty Treatments

A humidifier really comes in handy when doing certain beauty treatments in a spa, beauty salon or at home. The first place I can think of humidifiers being used for beauty treatments is in a sauna.

The steam generator in your sauna is just another type of humidifier. Also, when doing facials, sometimes you use a facial steamer, which again is just another type of humidifier. 

Eyelash extensions are another beauty treatment that require a humidifier. When doing eyelash extensions, the results are not as good if your humidity is too low. The ideal humidity level to get excellent results and lash retention with eyelash extensions is between 45% to 60% relative humidity.

This is because the adhesives used in doing eyelash extensions cure much slower and poorly under low humidity conditions. With poorly cured adhesives, lash extensions cannot stick properly and easily slip off. Besides, slipping off the extensions also clump up together. 

However, if you have adequate humidity, everything seems to work more easily. I'm sure there are beauty applications where using a humidifier is important, but let me end here. So with this said, another key place when you should use a humidifier is when you are doing certain beauty treatments.

11. In Various Commercial And Industrial Situations

Last, on my list of situations when you should use a humidifier are various commercial and industrial processes. In the table below, I provide some useful commercial and industrial situations in which we use humidifiers and how humidifiers help in each of these processes.

Process In Which Humidifiers Are Used When Doing Commerce and Industry


How A Humidifier Helps

Automotive manufacturing humidification

Increased efficiency & accuracy.

Cleanrooms & laboratories humidification

Improves production efficiencies.

Explosive & munition manufacturing humidification

Prevention of electrostatic risk to combustible materials.

Medical device manufacturing humidification

Improves yields and reduces waste.

Paper & pulp production humidification

Prevents dimensional changes.

Packaging humidification

Reducing static and maintaining the properties of paper, card and adhesives.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing humidification

Increases efficiency & yields.

Printing humidification

Prevents dimensional change and improves production processes.

Textile manufacturing humidification

For improved yield & quality.

Tobacco production humidification

Improved product quality and production efficiency

Electronics manufacturing

Eliminate harmful electrostatic discharge with humidification

Spray booth humidification

  • Prevents evaporation of water-based paints and improves finish.
  • Reduction in static build-up and less dust adhesion to surfaces
  • Reduction in spray evaporation between spray nozzle and surface
  • Prevention of premature and uneven drying
  • Evaporative cooling effect in sanding decks and inspection areas
  • Optimum environment for electrostatic painting and powder coating
  • Improved production efficiency, reduced sanding requirement, lower paint cost and improved finish

Abattoir humidification

Reducing weight loss during carcass chill down to less than 1%

Data center humidification

Provides high capacity, low cost evaporative cooling and combats ESD.

Tea production humidification 

Humidification during fermentation Improves oxidation and the quality and value of black teas.

Mushroom growing humidification

Increases efficiency & yields.

Crop storage humidification

Improves crop preservation period

Table Source: Condair

There are many more processes than this when you should use a humidifier, and the list I have shared with you here is certainly not comprehensive. 

Regardless, I hope I have shown you a time or place when you should have a humidifier you never even thought of. If you have come this far, you have completed the list and you know more about when humidifiers should be used than most people do. 

As a bonus, I am going to leave you with some additional tips that are quite important when you are deciding on when you should use your humidifier.

Additional Tips On When You Should Use A Humidifier

Should I Use A Humidifier All Night Long?

Something that came across my mind when I initially wondered about when I should use a humidifier is whether I should use one throughout the night. If you are wondering the same, the quick answer is you don’t have to use one all night long, but you can.

In my opinion, you should only use one all night long if you are facing serious issues with dry air and disrupt your sleep. For other uses like preserving your valuables and your household, it's unnecessary.

Whichever way, if you kept your humidifier on all night, if it is a smart humidifier with sensors, it will automatically switch on and off to maintain a constant humidity level and it will automatically switch off when it is out of water. 

So it all comes down to, are things better when you leave your humidifier on all night. If you observe they are better, then you should. If you observe they are worse or there is no change, then you should not.

Should I Use A Humidifier All-Year Round?

If you live in a parched climate throughout the year, I highly suggest using a humidifier all year round. Most people, however, live in areas where it is hot and humid in the summer but a lot drier in the winter. 

If this is true for you, then you don’t need to use a humidifier all year round. You should use a humidifier when the humidity levels drop significantly and throughout winter and put it away in summer unless it’s a cool mist humidifier which can cool you down from the hot weather even when it's humid.

The story changes when we look at things from a commercial and industrial perspective. In these settings, then your humidifier becomes once more a year round appliance,

What Kind Of Humidifier Should You Use?

I kind of answer this in my post about types of humidifiers, but in short, when you are battling dry air in winter, you are better off with a warm mist humidifier and when you are dealing with hot weather; you are better off with a cool mist humidifier.

Besides these two cases, there are specific types of humidifiers designed for certain uses including, beauty treatments, certain pets, disinfecting air or for growing rooms and other applications. They differ in size and mechanism and it's a whole other post for me to dive into the details.

About the Author


Jean is a research economist by profession and he runs Fresh Air Genie. He is enthusiastic about maintaining good air quality at home and on the go and he shares his knowledge about this here at Fresh Air Genie.

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