1. Home

Which Humidifier is Safer - Cool or Warm Mist?


Question: Which Humidifier is Safer - Cool or Warm Mist?
Are both cool or warm mist humidifiers safe to use or is one type safer than the other? Could children suffer burns from a warm mist humidifier?
Answer: While either a cool mist or warm mist humidifier can be operated safely with care, many consider a cool mist safer to use if young children are in the home.

That's because a warm mist humidifier operates with a heating element that heats the water in the tank to create a steam mist that is expelled to the room. Although the steam will not likely be hot enough to burn, the heating element that remains extremely hot and the tank full of hot water, could possibly burn tender skin should a child come into contact with it, if the humidifier were to be pulled from the dresser, or knocked over. For this reason, a warm mist humidifier requires much more care and consideration when placing the unit, to keep it from coming into contact, especially with young children.

A cool mist humidifier operates on either an evaporative or ultrasonic system, neither of which create any heat or hot water. For this reason, some do consider this type to be the safest, especially when there are small children in the home.

If your family doctor recommends a warm mist (over a cool mist) and you have safety concerns, you should discuss them with your doctor so you feel comfortable using it. There may be medical reasons for one being more beneficial according to your doctor, depending on the particular situation, and you can operate a warm mist humidifier by using extra care.

With proper care, either type of humidifier can be operated safely, just follow these tips when placing or using a humidifier:
  • Place on a dry and stable dresser or other high platform, and out of reach of small children.
  • Ensure that the humidifier cannot be reached by a toddler or baby in a nearby crib, nor that the crib/bed could be nudged towards that area.
  • Do not allow the cord to drape over the edge of the dresser or hang where a child might be able to grab and pull the unit down. Review the pathway of the cord to the receptacle; ensure there is no length of cord that is visible and accessible to a curious child.
  • Especially important with a warm mist model, take extreme care when filling to avoid splashing or touching the hot element. For safety reasons, unplug a humidifier when filling.
  • Keep the filters inside the humidifier clean and free of lint build-up.
  • Become familiar with the product manual and the manufacturer's warnings and recommendations for safe use and care.
  • Practice good humidifier maintenance, change filters when required, clean around the humidifier, disinfect the humidifier and water tank and never allow water to sit idle - it promotes bacterial growth which could cause health problems.
Compare Prices

Read More About Humidifiers:

Before You Buy a Humidifier
Humidifier Facts
Selecting a Safer Humidifier
Portable vs Whole Room Humidifiers
Humidifier & Other Appliance Safety Tips

Go to Main Humidifier Page
Go to Home Page

Promotional Feature: View this video series to learn how to take good care of your house.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.