Humidifier vs Diffuser- Which Is Best For You?

Is the air present in your home dry or carries a dusty or musty smell? If yes, it is probably because the humidity levels in your house are not where it should ideally be. This can cause several undesirable health effects, such as skin irritations and respiratory problems.

Hence it is a good idea to restore the humidity levels back up. A great way of doing that is by using humidifiers and diffusers.

However, people often mistake them to be the same. This is understandable as they have similar physical characteristics. But they are not the same!

To avoid making this mistake, it is essential to have a proper understanding of how they work and how they differ.

It is, therefore, time to clear the air- pun intended! Humidifier vs diffuser -what are the key differences, and which one is right for you? 

Take a look at this swifthandbook with all the information you need to make an informed choice:

Humidifier- what is it?

A humidifier is an electric device that helps increase or maintain the moisture level of the air present in a room.

Humidifiers are beneficial as they help people to breathe better, give relief from dry skin, and improve the symptoms of the common cold by reducing irritation and dryness in the throat and nose.

Additionally, humidifiers can also alleviate snoring as the moisture released from it prevents the throat from drying out.  

Humidifiers can function well with just tap water alone. Most models contain in-built filters that remove any mites or bacteria present in the water. It is, therefore, essential to clean and maintain the humidifier as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

If it is not maintained well, a humidifier can turn into a breeding ground for germs. These will, in turn, be released into the air by the humidifier and enter our bodies when we breathe the contaminated air.

Humidifier vs Diffuser: Construction

Varieties of humidifier

There are four general types of humidifiers:

  • Warm mist- This kind of humidifier boils the water to produce a warm mist that gets dispersed in the room with the help of a fan and motor.
  • Cool mist- It works like the warm-up mist humidifier excepting that it emits a cool and relaxing mist and not a hot one.
  • Impeller- it has disks that spin the water and break it down into small droplets before releasing it. It also generates a cool mist.
  • Ultrasonic It employs ultrasonic waves to disintegrate water molecules and release it as a spray of cool mist.

Diffuser- what is it?

It is a petite electrical device that is generally used for freshening up a room’s aroma. It typically has a compact motor, water container, and vents to release the perfumed air.

Users must add a few drops of the therapeutic essential oil in the water, post which the diffuser will then release the fragrance of those oils into the air.

Diffusers are not only useful for getting your home smelling incredibly lovely, but they also help improve the air quality on dry days.

As diffusers discharge essential oils believed to have several antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, it improves the overall health of the users. This is an added benefit of using diffusers.

The aromatherapy provided by the diffuser helps to alleviate stress and anxiety, thereby boosting the immune system.

By circulating the air containing essential oils, diffusers are also helpful for relieving allergies and sinus symptoms.

Humidifier vs Diffuser: Size of the water tanks

Variety of diffusers

Just as in the case humidifiers, there are many varieties of diffusers too.

  • Evaporative- This variety of diffuser makes use of a pad or filter accompanied by a compact fan to disperse the scented oil in the open and spread it quickly.
  • Heat- It works similarly to the previous diffuser but makes use of heat to circulate the fragrance and not a fan.
  • Nebulizer- Apull effect is used to crack down the oil into tiny particles that are later diffused as small droplets in the room.
  • Ultrasonic- It is also called humidifying diffusers as it makes use of water to disintegrate the aromatic essential oils and release them as a mist. As a result, they also dampen the air while spreading the scent.

Humidifier vs Diffuser- The 5 key differences

By understanding the difference between the two, you will be better equipped to choose the most suitable product for your home. 

 So, let’s get started!

1. Purpose

Humidifiers and diffusers are primarily built to serve different purposes.

While humidifiers are mainly built to raise the moisture and humidity of the air present in a room, diffusers are designed to spread the fragrance of essential oils all over a room.

Although there are certain varieties of diffusers like the ultrasonic diffusers that add some humidity to the air, they are nowhere comparable to the level added by a humidifier.

2. Size of the water tanks

Another vital difference between the two is the size of the water tanks. 

 As humidifiers are primarily designed to increase the humidity of a room, it requires enough water to do so. Hence humidifiers come with a tank that can hold at least 3800ml (1 gallon) of water. 

The diffusers which use water can hold only around 300-500 ml of water.

3. Construction

Humidifiers and diffusers use different materials for their construction.

Although the inner components of both use plastic, the difference lies in the resistance and quality of the plastic used.

While humidifiers make use of Polypropylene (PP), diffusers use Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene(ABS) 

 If you are wondering why different types of plastic are chosen, read on!

As oil is a main component of diffusers, they require a kind of plastic that has a higher melting point. Thus, the use of ABS. Additionally, ABS does not corrode or gets broken down by the acidic elements present in some essential oils.

On the Other Hand, as humidifiers primarily use water alone, PP plastic is sufficient for constructing its water tank and other components.

It is worth noting that it is not advisable to use essential oils in humidifiers as they can degrade the PP plastic and shorten its lifespan.

4. Range of dispersion

In the battle between humidifier vs. diffuser, diffusers win a point here as it has a higher range of dispersion than humidifiers.

Diffusers are more powerful as they are capable of breaking down the oil into super-thin fragments that can be effortlessly transferred over a larger distance and for a longer duration.

As humidifiers have a big atomizer, it generates heavier, thicker, more significant concentration of mist. As a result, it travels a shorter distance than the mist produced by the diffusers.

5. Price

Diffusers usually cost more than humidifiers. This is primarily because the cost of production is higher for diffusers than humidifiers.

The variation in cost can be typically attributed to the plastic used in its construction. The ABS plastic used for making the parts of a diffusers cost more than the PP plastic used for building the parts of the humidifier.

Moreover, diffusers contain more complex parts than humidifiers, which in turn increases their cost.

Humidifier vs diffuser what to pay for?

Your final choice between a humidifier and diffuser will boil down to a few essential factors:

1. What is your need for the device?

If you live in a place that has a dry arid climate due to which the air present in your home lacks moisture, opt for a humidifier.

In case, if the air present in your home is not dry and you only want the heavenly scent of essential oils to linger in your home, choose a diffuser.

2. How long do you plan to use it?

While humidifiers can run all night, it is not recommended to use diffusers for that long as it might overwhelm the livers and cause allergies. 

20-40 minutes is the maximum time considered safe by experts.

3. What type of health issues do you have?

The scent of essential oils can help you relax and soothe your nerves if you are under immense stress. Therefore, in this case, diffuser is an excellent choice for you.

However, if you have symptoms of any respiratory illness or flu, a humidifier is better. It is also a good option if you suffer from the pesky problems of dry air, such as nose bleeds, dry skin, and chapped lips.


While both humidifiers and diffusers have merits, what you decide to invest in ultimately depends on your requirements.

If you wish to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of fragrant essential oils, diffusers are for you; however, if you want to maintain the ideal humidity in your home, humidifiers are perfect for you.

If you are still not able to pick sides in the humidifier vs. diffuser conundrum, buy both! The combined benefits will work wonders for your health and wellbeing. Finally, we would like to say that before you decide to invest in the product, do check the information about its trial period warranty and repair costs. This will help you to be happy and sure of your purchasing decision.