Humidifier VS Dehumidifier: Which One Do I Need?

Confused about the functionality of humidifier and dehumidifier, you're not alone. Both might sound the same and has to do with humidity control, it is actually the opposite of each other. In this post, I'm going to clear the air between these two and answer the most asked questions of all: Which ONE do I need. I'm also addressing a series of common queries gathered throughout the five years here. Some questions you might think is silly, but trust me, is been asked far too many times.


The Differences Between Humidifier and Dehumidifier

Typically compact in size unless it is an air purifier humidifier combination.Besides the renewable version, most dehumidifiers have medium to large body with a removable water tank.
Increase the room humidity level.Decrease the room humidity level.
Health Benefits
Moisture skin and improve breathability.Stop allergic symptoms like chronic sneezing, coughing headache.
Best Used
Bedroom, bathroom, living hall, and winter season where humidity is low.Basement, living hall, places with musty smell, and summer where humidity is high.
• Evaporative  • Steam vaporizer/ Mist  • Ultrasonic  • Impeller• Mechanical or refrigeration  • Absorption/ Electronic desiccant  • Thermoelectric  • Ionic membrane
Target Group
Suitable for all. Folks with children need to be cautious on the heat produced by the warm-mist humidifier.All including baby, children, adult, and elderly that would be at risk of mold infection.
Noise Level
Subtle to soft for ultrasonic, cool mist. Livable white noise for impeller, warm mist (steam).Louder but manageable noise level depending on the selected speed and placement.
Cost with Upkeeping
Cheap for a compact vaporizer/ cool mist between $20-50. Expect price from $100 all the way to $500 for 2-in-1 air purifier humidifier combo.Mini/ portable unit is at an affordable price of $30-50. Expect price between $100-300 for a full-sized 30-70 pint dehumidifier.

Do I Need a Humidifier Or a Dehumidifier?

Get a humidifier if your room humidity level falls below 30% or the air is stale and dry e.g. in the winter. If you often fall sick from virus infection, humidifier can stop the spread. Get a dehumidifier if humidity level goes beyond 50% or the air is humid e.g. in the summer. Consider one if your house is constantly infested with mold. Ideally, the sweet spot is between 30-50% humidity level. Achievable but you will have to swap the machine during season change.

Too technical? No problem. You can also rely on your allergies to determine what is needed. If one is experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Itchy or flaky skin
  • Chapped lips
  • Dry or nose bleeds
  • Dry cough
  • Dry eyes
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Static shock

Humidifier it is. Start using a dehumidifier if you experience the following signs:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Postnasal drip coughing
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Dry throat
  • Itchiness all over the body
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Static shock (again)

My take? Skip the second option as most symptoms are repetitive and can be caused by any allergies. Instead, get a hygrometer/ humidity meter for less than 10 bucks and you will have a clear answer.

Humidifier or Dehumidifier for Stuffy Nose/ Cold

Humidifier as added moisture from cold or warm mist can relieve a sinus problem. Stuffy nose happens when your nasal passage is blocked by excessive mucus. This will lead to breathing difficulty and nasal/ sinus infection. Incorrect use of a dehumidifier will cause the air drier and thicken the mucus.

Humidifier or Dehumidifier for Cough

Humidifier is ideal to reduce cough as it adds moisture into the air. Dry air can cause cold, throat irritation, and chest tightness. The thickens mucus will create post-nasal drip which then leads to chronic cough. Dehumidifier help alleviates respiratory symptoms including cough but the impact is less significant.

Humidifier vs Dehumidifier for Baby

Your little one has a much narrower nasal passage that is sensitive to any congestion. Humidifier creates an optimal breathing environment for the baby especially during winter. The added moisture reduces air dryness thus less mucus obstruction. Dehumidifier protects the baby with developing immune system from mold, bacteria and virus attack. Without excess moisture, the microbes will not thrive and less are spread across the home. In short, both humidifier and dehumidifier will benefit babies through humidity management.

Humidifier or Dehumidifier for Asthma

Dehumidifier is more common for an asthmatic person as it removes respiratory ailments. An asthma attack happens when the lining of the airways also becomes swollen and air cannot pass through. The allergic reaction triggered when one is exposed to microbes like mold or germ. Dehumidifier cut away the microorganisms food source thus effectively killing them off. A humidifier can help ease nasal congestion and improve breathing quality.

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.