Humidifier vs Diffuser: Which One Is Right For You?

Many are still confused between humidifiers and diffusers, mistaking them to be the same thing. This article compares both to explain their similarities and differences so you know exactly which one is right for you.



What is it?

A diffuser is typically used with essential oils. This is favored by people who usually live alone or with people who, like them, have no issues with the smell of essential oils. A diffuser is mainly used to freshen up a room’s aroma. You can choose among four types of essential oil diffusers: ultrasonic, nebulizing, heat, and evaporative.

What are the pros?

Diffusers are usually paired with essential oils for aromatherapy purposes. Depending on what oils you use, the mist absorbed by your skin can have a relaxing and soothing effect. Diffusers can also reduce the amount of bacteria and fungus in the room, therefore preventing any health issues. Take note that you’ll only benefit from diffusers if you use the right essential oil for you.

So exactly how does it work?

There are four types of essential oil diffusers: evaporative, heat, nebulizer, and ultrasonic.


For evaporative diffusers, you only need to add oil drops to the diffuser filter or pad. The diffuser fan then blows air through the filter or pad to help the oil evaporate quicker and spread the aroma into the room. Similarly, the heat diffuser only needs drops of oil on its filter or pad—the only difference being it uses heat instead of a fan.

A nebulizer diffuser is generally thought to be the most effective kind. The device comes with a tube, which is where oil is added. An air-jet blows across the top of the tube, followed by a vacuum effect that sucks oil to the top of the tube. Air then blows across the oil’s surface at the tube top and tiny oil droplets are diffused throughout the room.


Ultrasonic diffusers are also humidifying diffusers. As essential oils are added into the water, they stay on the surface. A disk inside the device then vibrates and agitates the water, causing the oil to break into tiny particles. Oil is then dispersed into a fine mist while simultaneously humidifying the air.

Are there any cons?

The best diffusers usually cost a lot, but when used properly and in need, it’s worth it. Most diffusers also come with a built-in light that can’t be turned off while it’s running, so it can be disturbing for some. Some diffusers can also be quite noisy.



What is it?

A humidifier is a favorite among homeowners who live in dry climates and for those who simply dread the air during winter time—this is because colder air cannot hold as much water as warmer air. A humidifier helps a room maintain a certain level of moisture. You can choose between four types of humidifiers: warm mist, evaporative, impeller, and ultrasonic.

What are the pros?

Humidifiers are perfect for people who have issues that come along during dry weather. Problems like dry skin, nosebleeds, and snoring could all be resolved with the help of a humidifier. Many also use one to treat symptoms of cold, flu, and sinus congestion. According to Mayo Clinic, your home’s ideal humidity level should be between 30% to 50%. Bottom line: if you hate dry, cold air, a humidifier will do wonders for your health.

So exactly how does it work?

There are four popular types of humidifiers: warm mist, evaporative, impeller, and ultrasonic.


A warm mist humidifier boils water to produce steam which is then released into the room. An evaporative humidifier however expels cool mist. Water is added into the humidifier reservoir which is soaked up by a wick, filter, or belt. A fan in the device then blows air through it.

Another cool mist humidifier is an impeller one. It works by spinning disks within a diffuser which breaks the water into tiny droplets, then it is released into the room.


An ultrasonic humidifier uses a vibrating metal diaphragm that makes sound vibrations. This propels tiny water molecules or mist into the air. An ultrasonic humidifier can release either warm or cool mist.

Are there any cons?

Some humidifiers aren’t suitable to be used with essential oils because it can damage the plastic components of the device. To get the full benefits of your humidifier, constant cleaning and maintenance is required. If the settings of your humidifier are incorrect, it can possibly increase your set humidity when you’re asleep. Some units, especially the ones which release warm mist, boil water inside which can be dangerous to leave alone within reach if you have children and/or pets.

So which one should you get?


If your favorite part about being home is getting to wind down and relax with a little aromatherapy, an essential oil diffuser is definitely for you. However if you’re sharing your space with other people, a humidifier is your best bet. If you’re living with kids and/or pets, a humidifier is also better so as not to trigger any allergies that could be caused by essential oils.

Which leads us to the logical conclusion… why not get a device that does both? Thankfully, you can opt for an ultrasonic diffuser to get the benefits of both an essential oil diffuser and a humidifier. Here are some of the best ones you can find on Amazon: