Do Cool Mist Humidifiers Kill Germs?

Each year, there comes a time where the air is unbearably dry. You can feel the dryness of your skin. You may wake up in the morning with a dry or itchy throat. Your hair may even seem a bit weaker and less healthy and you may be suffering from dry skin. You may even get frequent nose bleeds. There are countless reasons that living in a home with dry air can affect your health.

When the weather gets cold, the air typically gets drier. Although the winter blues are already enough to deal with in the winter, the dry air also increases your risk of getting sick during flu season. Specifically, the dry air will increase the likelihood of you catching the flu virus or a cold.  

If you want to improve your overall health in the winter, you need to find a way to combat that dry air. Unfortunately, using lotion on your skin just won’t make the cut. You have to fix the problem at the root of the issue—you need to increase the relative humidity in the air, and you need to take the germs and toxins out of the air.

Why You Need A Humidifier

To combat the dry air issue, you need a humidifier. These marvelous machines are simple, effective, and necessary during those cold, dry winter months.  While there are several types of humidifiers, the principle they work on is simple—they add moisture into the air and increase the humidity level.

Humidifiers provide several benefits to those who use them, regardless of the time of year. Humidifiers essentially act as a natural moisturizer for your skin in the winter months, doing the opposite of a dehumidifier. 

If you choose to humidify, it can relieve symptoms of allergies when there’s a lot of pollen and other allergens in the indoor air. Humidifiers can also help soothe dry throats, combat dry coughs, reduce the frequency of bloody noses, and much more.

What size humidifier you need depends on the room that you'll be using it for

The health benefits of humidifiers are endless, and the importance of having one cannot be understated.  

As noted above, in the winter months, when the air is dry, viruses and other germs have a greater chance of spreading. As there is less moisture in the air, airborne pathogens have an easier time spreading through the air.

On the other hand, if there’s enough moisture in the air, the moisture helps to trap the viruses and bacteria and inhibits their spread.

When the air is cold, viruses benefit from the drop in temperature as their outer layer can harden, which effectively protects them from the environment. This aids in their spread as well as the lack of moisture.

What’s more, the lack of moisture in the air causes your nose and nasal passages to dry out. When that happens, germs like those airborne viruses, dust mites, and bacteria can enter your body through your nasal passages much easier.  

Essentially, the dry air sets you up for getting sick. Pathogens can spread easier, thanks to the lack of moisture, and your body becomes more susceptible to allowing those pathogens into it.

To reduce your chances of getting sick in the winter and from dry environments in general, humidification is a good choice. However, not all humidifiers are the same. You have to pick whether you want a cool mist humidifier or a warm mist humidifier.

The size of humidifier that you'll need depends on room size, so if you're looking to fill a large room, you'll need a larger machine, and vice versa for small rooms that don't have a lot of square feet. If you're looking for a whole house model, there are options for that as well.

Warm Mist Humidifier Vs. Cool Mist Humidifier

While both types of humidifiers provide numerous benefits, they work in distinct ways. Warm mist humidifiers, sometimes called vaporizers, use heat to add moisture into the air, as per the name. These humidifiers use a heating agent to heat the water in the reservoir until it reaches the boiling point.

Once the water reaches that boiling point, the steam begins to rise out of the unit. Thus, the moisture that enters the room from the humidifier is steam, and as everyone knows, it’s hot. While this can seem nice to have hot steam entering your home, it also poses some risks.

For example, if you have children, you’ll have to keep them away from the humidifier, so this may not be the best humidifier for you. As the humidifier is boiling water and using a heating component to do so, your children could severely injure themselves with the humidifier.

Furthermore, as a warm mist humidifier relies on heat, that means it relies on electricity. It takes energy to run your warm mist humidifier constantly. If you choose to start humidifying this way, you may want a device with an automatic shut-off feature to lessen the risk of fires.

For those two reasons alone, you should consider a cool mist humidifier. However, cool mist humidifiers also have plenty of benefits on their own!

Cool mist humidifiers add moisture into the air without having to heat it. Thus the danger of injury is gone. There are several types of cool mist humidifiers on the market, but the most popular two are ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers.  

Both types of cool mist humidifiers are more energy-efficient than a warm mist humidifier. Plus, they’re affordable, and they're even customizable in a sense. For example, you could add different types of healing vapors or essential oils into your cool mist humidifier and use it as a diffuser. While this will add a wonderful smell to the room, it can also help relieve coughs, sinus conditions, and more.  

While cool mist humidifiers do not actively kill bacteria or germs, they significantly reduce the number of germs in the air by adding moisture to it. Plus, many of the cool mist humidifiers use filters to reduce the chance of any impurities in the water from entering the air so that you have the most germ-free cool mist possible. So while they aren't specifically antimicrobial, when used with filtered water, the air is sure to be pure and clean.

Evaporative Cool Mist Humidifiers

Evaporative cool mist humidifiers are the standard in cool mist humidifiers. This is the type that most people think of when they think of cool mist humidifiers. These humidifiers utilize a fan to aid in turning the water in the reservoir into a mist that’s emitted into the air.

The fan in the evaporative cool mist humidifiers pulls air from the environment into the device. That air then passes through a wick filter, which turns the water from the water tank into water vapor. The water vapor is then emitted out into the room via the fan.

Thus, these cool mist humidifiers use a fan to turn water into vapor, which is much more energy-efficient than using a heating mechanism in a warm mist humidifier. Plus, it’s significantly less dangerous as well.

However, the fan in the evaporative cool mist humidifiers may be a bit too loud for some. Furthermore, as this humidifier uses a wick filter, it has to be replaced every so often and is prone to buildup.

The filter acts to filter out bacteria and other germs from the air and water. While that’s highly beneficial regarding the air quality, that means an evaporative cool mist humidifier does take some maintenance.

Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers

The most advanced and arguably the best type of cool mist humidifiers is the ultrasonic humidifier. These humidifiers work in what seems like a mysterious way to some users as they don’t use any fan or any heat to produce mist from water. They're also filter-free.

Just like a warm mist model, the ultrasonic cool mist humidifier holds water in a water reservoir that is then stimulated with energy, so moisture can be added to the air. The ultrasonic humidifier gets its name from the use of ultrasonic frequency vibrations.

The device uses a specialized flat disc that quickly oscillates to generate these ultrasonic frequency vibrations, which break the water that’s on the surface of the tank into tiny little water droplets. These droplets are then emitted into the air using a tiny, soundless fan.

Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers produce very little sound, so they’re great additions to any room. They also don’t use any filter, like the evaporative model. That means they require less maintenance.

On the other hand, these devices are known to produce some white dust deposits at times. This typically occurs when the humidifier is used with standard tap water or hard water, as it’s full of minerals. If you use distilled or filtered water, the chance of any white dust being produced is significantly reduced.

Taking Care Of Your Cool Mist Humidifier

If you choose to go the route of a cool mist humidifier, you’re gaining several benefits. First, these humidifiers are much safer as they need no heat to run. If you use an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier, you’re also getting an environmentally friendly product as it requires very little energy and uses no filter.

However, even with cool mist humidifiers, you have to take care of them. That primarily means cleaning them regularly, not just refilling the gallon tank. If you use an evaporative cool mist humidifier, you’ll have to replace the filter often as well.  

To ensure you’re performing the proper maintenance on your cool mist humidifier, check out this post. It will teach you the best way to properly clean your humidifier to make sure you’re getting the best health benefits possible.

The Bottom Line

Cool mist humidifiers are great additions to any household. They provide several health benefits such as improving skin conditions, reducing the symptoms of allergies, and soothing itchy throats.

However, the greatest benefit is that these devices significantly reduce the number of germs in the air. The cool mist emitted into your home will prohibit any airborne pathogens like viruses or bacteria from spreading around. Plus, the cool mist humidifiers help your body fight off infections by keeping your body properly hydrated.


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