Which Is the Best: Cool Mist Vs Warm Mist Humidifiers

Humidifiers have become quite a normal part of daily life for many people. After all, these devices can help ease respiratory issues such as dry throats and coughs, as well as other symptoms caused by respiratory viruses, such as congestion.

A good humidifier can allow you to breathe much easier. They can also help stop dry eyes and dry skin from occurring, both things which can be debilitating.

You know that you want a humidifier, but the problem now is what type of humidifier to get. There are two main types out there — warm and cool mist humidifiers.

As the name implies, one produces cool humidity and the other uses hot steam to accomplish the same goal. So, which one is best, the cool mist or the warm mist humidifier? Let’s take a closer look and figure out which one is best for you.

Warm Mist vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

We want to compare these two types of humidifiers based on their features and functionality, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Pure Humidification Capabilities

One of the most important points of comparison is how well each of these types of humidifiers work to humidify and moisturize the air in a given space. Both warm mist and cool mist humidifiers are designed for the same purpose, humidification, but how well do they perform at this task?

Generally speaking, warm mist humidifiers work much better than cool mist humidifiers to humidify a larger area. The reason for this has to do with simply physics, and it all has to do with heat. Cool air is much heavier than hot air; it does not rise as well; and it does not disperse as well.

Therefore, when a warm mist humidifier is being used, the hot or warm water particles travel up much higher and further through the air than cool mist. Cool mist humidifiers are fine for smaller rooms, but if you are looking to humidify a larger area, particularly if there are two floors involved, a warm mist option will perform better.

Temperature Considerations

Something else that needs to be considered when choosing between a warm mist and cool mist humidifier is the ambient temperature in your home. Cool mist is cool and warm mist is warm, or in all reality, warm mist humidifiers actually release steam, which you might recognize as being quite hot.

The issue is that if it is summer or you live in a hot climate in general, a warm mist humidifier is just going to make things hotter. If you live in a cool climate, and you want something to warm you up, a warm mist humidifier is fine; for cold temperatures, you want to use a warm mist humidifier, and vice versa. Paying attention to the temperature when choosing between these two options is essential if you plan on being comfortable.

Ability to Kill Airborne Contaminants

One reason why many people like getting cool and warm mist humidifiers is because they can help you breathe easier. However, if the humidifier is full of germs, bacteria, and allergens, it won’t be of much help. Therefore, paying attention to a humidifier’s ability to kill germs, or at least to contain them without spreading them around a room, is important.

With warm mist humidifiers, the heating process is usually enough to kill the majority of bacteria and other contaminants present in the water. However, because cool mist humidifiers do not use heat to release their mist, they are much less effective at killing airborne contaminants which may cause respiratory issues.

With that being said, there are both warm mist and cool mist humidifiers which come with built-in filters which remove as many airborne contaminants as possible before releasing the mist into the room.

Ability to Reduce Respiratory and Other Issues

One of the main reasons why people get humidifiers is to help stop dry coughs, sore throats, red and dry eyes, and to help keep skin hydrated. So, how well do each of these types of humidifiers work to accomplish these goals?

While there is some pretty strong evidence to prove that both warm and cool mist humidifiers can help reduce such these symptoms and conditions, it is unclear which one works better.

This seems to be more a matter of personal preference than anything else, something that is a case by case type of thing; some people benefit more from one than the other. For you, this might be an issue of trial and error. You might just have to test each of them out to see which one works better.


Warm mist humidifiers are usually whisper quiet. They simply use a heating element to heat water, and then release the steam into a room. Because steam is light, it disperses easily and therefore does not require any extra assistance.

However, cool mist, as discussed before, is not as lightweight and does not disperse as easily, and therefore requires assistance; cool mist humidifiers use air fans to disperse the mist, and this can be a bit noisy.

Energy Use

Cool mist humidifiers often use an air fan to distribute the mist, which you might think leads to increased energy use over warm mist humidifiers. However, this is actually not the case.

The warming function of warm mist humidifiers tends to use the most energy of all. So, if you are going for the option that is the most energy efficient, a cool mist humidifier is the clear winner.


Something that should be considered when choosing between a warm mist and cool mist humidifier is safety. Cool mist humidifiers are by far the safest option, as the mist is cool and so is everything else. There’s no risk of being burned.

However, this is not the case with warm mist humidifiers which release hot steam. Children and pets alike are at risk of being burned by the steam, another consideration to keep in mind.


As you can see, both warm mist and cool mist humidifiers have their benefits and drawbacks. For instance, warm mist humidifiers are great for killing the majority of bacteria in the water, for easy and quick dispersal of the mist without the need of a fan, and they are great for treating respiratory issues too.

On the other hand, they aren’t overly safe for kids and pets, and they use a good deal of energy. All of the above points which we have discussed are points for you to consider before you decide one way or the other.


Leave a Comment