Dehumidifier vs. Humidifier – What They Do, & Which One You Need

So, there was a point in time where I couldn’t distinguish the difference between dehumidifiers and humidifiers, and that may be the case for others out there. 

A friend has told you about their humidifier, and another person on your Facebook feed is raving about the new dehumidifier they purchased.

But now you’re left wondering, which one do I actually need for my home?

What are the benefits of owning each, and do I need both? 


Fortunately, you have stumbled across this article. We’ll go over the difference between the two, helping you decide which type would be more suited to your home.

Dehumidifiers vs. Humidifiers – What are They?

Ready for the ultimate battle? Humidifier vs dehumidifier – everything you need is laid out clearly so that you have a better understanding of what these devices are able to do.


Dehumidifiers are appliances that remove moisture from the air, they are also capable of removing toxins from the air, giving you and your family better air quality to breathe. 

During the hot, muggy summer months your house may start building up too much moisture content. This can lead to a bunch of issues, such as; breathing difficulties, mould, mildew, and an increased amount of allergies. 

Dehumidifiers are beneficial because they help reduce allergy symptoms. These symptoms can include any of the following: 

  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Eye Irritation 
  • Itching 

Additionally, here is a list of pollutants lingering in the air that may be also the cause of allergic reactions: 

  • Mould
  • Dust Mites
  • Pollen
  • Animal Dander 

Now, if you, or have someone in the house, has respiratory issues you can see where any of these things might cause it to become harder to breathe. Not only that, but high humidity could also lead to sleepless nights with babies.

Read Here: Best Dehumidifier Review Guide


Humidifiers do exactly the opposite of dehumidifiers. Humidifiers work to put moisture back into the air when the air is too dry through a pleasantly cool mist. Humidifiers are beneficial for those with respiratory symptoms, or dry skin. 

During the colder months, dry air can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin, and respiratory symptoms can worsen over time. Purchasing a humidifier can overcome these problems and prevent low humidity from occurring. 

Humidifiers can help people who experience any of these following issues, which are caused by a lack of humidity in the home: 

  • Cracked lips
  • Bloody noses
  • Sinus Headaches
  • Irritated eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Allergies
  • Frequent coughs
  • Dry skin

According to Robert of Snore Nation humidifiers can also help prevent snoring if it is caused by allergies or a respiratory illness, so if your significant other is keeping you up at night with loud grunts and spluttering, a humidifier can help with that. 

Humidifiers can also be beneficial for the home. If you have house-plants that love moisture, they can become more vibrant thanks to the warm mist provided by the humidifier. 

Wood floors and furniture may also last longer with a humidifier around as dry air can lead to cracks forming in the floor. If your house has wallpaper, a humidifier can prevent it from cracking and peeling off. 

Humidifiers can also help save on your utility bills during the colder months because humid air can feel warmer than dry air. The warm mist of a humidifier has never been so welcome than during cold weather.

Which One Should I Buy?

A decent humidity level for the average home is somewhere in the range of 35% and 45%. 

Keeping your home humidity level inside this reach guarantees the most agreeable and solid climate, while shielding your home from harm brought about by exorbitant dryness or moistness. Humidity levels above 60% are too high. 

To discover what your home requirements are, you can check the stickiness level of your air with a humidity detector called a hygrometer. 

These are reasonably priced and it’s something every home should have at their disposal. This is one I recommend

If your home humidity level is above 50%, then a dehumidifier is needed. If humidity levels fall below 30%, then a humidifier is needed – that’s the main difference between humidifiers and dehumidifiers. 

Here are some of the signs you might want to consider a dehumidifier:

  • Anyone in the home has a prolonged allergy season, year after year.
  • You’ve recently moved and your allergies seem to be flaring up more often or worse than they used to.
  • There’s a persistent damp smell in an area of your home where you frequently spend time.
  • Your space experiences water leakage after heavy rainfall.
  • You notice muggy air in your home when you enter, indicating you can actually see the water vapor in the air.
  • Anyone in the home has an allergy to dust mites.
  • You’ve noticed an increase in unwanted pests, such as spiders, cockroaches, moths, or silverfish.
  • Your clothes smell damp or mouldy even when they have been freshly washed.
  • You have persistent symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and runny nose.

Types of Dehumidifiers

There are four primary types of dehumidifiers:

  • Refrigerative. Also known as mechanical, is the most widely recognized type of dehumidifier, it utilizes a fan to haul the dampness out of the air and over a refrigerated coil. 
  • Electronic. Any dehumidifier type can be electronic, but these are known for their built-in humidistats that work through an electronic connection. They keep an eye on the humidity level for you and will automatically adjust their settings accordingly. 
  • Desiccant. These are best used in colder conditions, which makes them perfect for garages and other chilly spaces. They attract and hold water vapour with incredible ease, which makes them highly efficient. 
  • Ionic. These are fairly new and offer silent running, low maintenance costs, a compact design, and the ability to remove water vapour at a molecular level so that you don’t have to empty the tank.

Types of Humidifiers

While most humidifiers have a similar core function, to add dampness to the air through a cool mist, numerous types are available: 

  • Steam vaporizers: These utilize power to make steam, which cools before it leaves the unit. Be that as it may, there is a danger of consuming the skin, and individuals ought to try not to utilize steam vaporizers around kids. 
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers: Instead of power, these units use vibrations to disintegrate water. 
  • Evaporators: These produce dampness by blowing air past vanishing water. 
  • Impeller humidifiers: These are generally child-friendly and use rotating disks, rather than heat, to vaporize water.
  • Focal humidifiers: A person can connect one of these units into the central air conditioning in the home or office to add moisture to the entire space.

Sizes can vary. Console humidifiers are large enough to add moisture to an entire house or office, while personal humidifiers are portable and easy to carry.

What are the risks of a Dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier might not work the same way for everyone. There are some potential side effects to using them in your space, bringing back the humidifier vs dehumidifier argument.

Dehumidifiers remove moisture content from the air.  

So If you live in an already dry climate (such as a desert or high-altitude area), or use gas or electricity to heat your home, a dehumidifier might not be needed as it could make the air too dry. 

According to Davis et al, conditions like pneumonia can actually worsen if the air quality is too dry. Your skin and hair can also be affected if your home becomes an arid place. People with eczema (atopic dermatitis) may be especially prone to flare-ups in a dry environment.

When you use a dehumidifier, you should be mindful of staying hydrated due to the amount of moisture that can be removed from the air. 

Additionally, if you have a dry cough or stuffy nose, running a dehumidifier might do more harm than good.

What are the risks of a Humidifier?

Humidifiers turn water into breathable vapour in the air. If the unit’s water tank is dirty, the vapour a person breathes will also be dirty – potentially causing illness or allergic reactions.

A dark, humid tank is an environment that fosters germs, but regular cleaning can help to prevent any issues, and keep your family and home healthy. 

Always clean humidifiers thoroughly as directed by the manufacturer instructions. 

The water should not sit in the humidifier for too long. 

And If the humidifier has a filter, be sure to replace it often, as harmful toxins can attach to it.


Can a dehumidifier be used as a humidifier?

No, a dehumidifier cannot be used as a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to air when it’s too dry (below 35% humidity) and dehumidifiers take moisture out of air when it’s too humid (above 50% humidity).

Do babies need a humidifier or dehumidifier?

No, babies do not necessarily need humidifiers or dehumidifiers. Richmond’s Air claims that unless your baby is sleeping in a basement room or your home is not equipped with air conditioning, a dehumidifier may not be a necessary purchase for your baby. 

Humidifiers, on the other hand, put moisture into the air when it’s too dry. This can be beneficial to babies, but you should always seek expert advice from a healthcare professional before installing them for infants.

Do humidifiers cause mould?

Yes, humidifiers can cause mould. Moist environments provide a wonderful breeding ground for mould and bacteria.  If you neglect to clean your humidifier properly, it can quickly become a cosy incubator for germs.

Do humidifiers work in cold rooms?

Yes, humidifiers work well in both hot and cold rooms. The main purpose of a humidifier is to reduce the health problems that could arise from dry air. This includes respiratory problems and skin problems. These problems are caused by dry air due to heat or cold.

To Conclude

The age-old battle of humidifier vs dehumidifier. Determining whether or not a dehumidifier or a humidifier is best for your home all comes down to the environment that you are experiencing. 

Changes in weather can also influence which of these you actually need. 

Hopefully, this guide has been able to give you a clear picture so that you can determine which is suited to your home. Interested in picking one up? You’re in luck as we have detailed guides for buying the best humidifier and dehumidifier on the market.

Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by Gemma Tyler Protection Status