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What is Better for Allergies, a Humidifier, or Air Purifier?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 16, 2023

What is Better for Allergies, a Humidifier, or Air Purifier?

People with allergies need to be mindful of the air that they breathe as any irritant can trigger an attack. This is why the question of “What is better for allergies, a humidifier or air purifier?” often pops up.

But between these two devices, which one do you really need to help with your allergies? Read on to find out the answer.

What is better for allergies, a humidifier or air purifier?

It’s not uncommon for people to mistake humidifiers for air purifiers and vice versa. After all, both of them affect the air we breathe, though they do this in different ways.

But when it comes to allergies, people are often confused or have the wrong information if it’s better to use a humidifier or air purifier. What do these devices exactly do, and when do you need one or the other?

What is a humidifier and when would you use one?

A humidifier, as the name suggests, humidifies the air. Most humidifiers do this by evaporating air into the atmosphere. However, some humidifiers atomize or break up water droplets, which help increase the humidity or moisture in the air.

Because they use water, humidifiers need to be refilled every so often or else they would dry out. So it is important to only use distilled or even boiled water, and avoid using tap water or chlorinated water, as it might contain harmful chemicals or even microorganisms that can be inhaled.

Humidifiers also come in different sizes, with larger humidifiers able to work with bigger rooms. Small humidifiers are typically used for bedrooms, while larger ones are used in the living room.

Humidifiers can help if the air in your home is very dry. In particular, humidifiers are usually used in cold climates, because the dry air causes irritation in the nose, eyes, throat, and even the lungs.

What is an air purifier and when would you use one?

In contrast with humidifiers, air purifiers don’t do anything to the moisture in the air. What an air purifier does, is it takes in air, passes it through a filter that cleans it, and then blows it out.

Just like humidifiers, air purifiers come in different sizes. Smaller ones are ideal for bedrooms or smaller rooms, while the larger ones are best for purifying large amounts of air, such as in the living room or even the kitchen.

One caveat of using air purifiers is that you will need to clean out the air filter every so often.  Some air purifiers have filters that you can wash with soap and water, while others use more expensive types of filters which need to be replaced once they are dirty.

The benefit to those types of filters is that they’re usually more effective at filtering out particulates in the air. Though, these days, there are also reusable filters that can filter air just as well, though they tend to be more expensive.

Air filters can help if the air quality in your area is bad, or if there’s a lot of pollen and other allergens in the air. It also helps deal with dust, and even mold particles that linger in the air.

Though, air filters are not, and should not be a replacement for keeping your home clean and free from dust.

Which one is better for allergies?

When it comes to allergies, air purifiers work the best. Humidifiers only help with increasing air moisture, so they don’t do anything for dust, pollen, and other allergens that might be in the air.

Though, you can also use humidifiers in conjunction with air purifiers. This is especially useful if you live in a dry area, or you’re experiencing dryness of your eyes, throat, and nose.

But if you’re just looking to improve air quality, then it’s best to buy an air purifier instead. These can help you breathe better, and reduce the chances that you’ll have an allergic reaction.

Learn more about Allergies here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 16, 2023

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