can a warm mist humidifier make you sick

Can a Warm Mist Humidifier Make You Sick?

Humidifiers in the winter are a genuine lifesaver when it comes to healing dried out nasal passages, bloody noses, congestion, and keeping viruses at Bay.

But the same humidifier that can give you such amazing relief when you are  feeling congested can also be the source of illness when it is not maintained carefully.

Yet there is one type of humidifier that is inherently safer than other types of humidifiers.

Warm mist humidifiers or vaporizers have a built-in protection mechanism against mold and bacteria growing in them.

The safety feature they possess is that they bring water to a boiling point to create steam.

Bacteria cannot survive the temperature of boiling water. So Warm mist humidifiers actually clean the humidifier as they are operating.

The typical problem that humidifiers possess is that they can become full of bacteria when they are not cleaned often enough.

That results in the humidifier becoming a source of airborne mold, fungi, and bacteria. Attaching themselves to humidity aerosols floating and waiting to be inhaled.

Anytime that water has been left inside of a humidifier for over 48 hours there is the potential of mold and bacteria already starting to take root in the machine.

According to health professionals including the national library of medicine “the relative humidity inside a home should be kept between 40 and 60% to avoid humidity related issues”


But though warm mist humidifiers may have the advantage when it comes to staying cleaner, they do not lend themselves to being a system for humidifying a large area for very long.

The problem is that they are hot ,steamy and Sticky. 
A good solution when you want to use a product like Vicks or an essential oil like eucalyptus to clear out your nasal passages, but not such a good solution when you’re entire house is dry and you’re trying to raise the moisture level.

Warm mist humidifiers and vaporizers tend to make the area swampy and uncomfortable when you are feeling sick.

So even though they are less likely to be responsible for getting dirty and making someone sick, they are also uncomfortable to be around when you are sick.

They also have a big disadvantage of being scalding hot if they happen to spill on you.

Most vendors make a point of warning that warm mist and steam humidifiers should not be used in the kids rooms or the baby’s room for that exact reason.

warm mist vaporizerWhat to do…

Humidifiers in the 2000s are not the same humidifiers that you purchased at the local pharmacy in 1985.

The amount of features that humidifiers have these days can suit just about everyone’s humidification needs.

One of those features like you can find on the Levoit 6l large room humidifier is the capacity of the unit to be used as a warm mist humidifier or a cool mist humidifier.

This is a great solution for people who want to be able to use the steam setting to help open up their airways but don’t want to have to try to sleep in a sauna atmosphere.

Humidifiers like that same Levoit model or also loaded with the latest Wi-Fi smart technologies to allow you to control and schedule your humidifier directly from your phone or your Alexa device.

  It also allows you to set and leave your humidifier without the concern of it ever over humidifying or running out of water without you knowing it.

Other advances in humidifiers are concentrated on reducing mold and bacteria growth inside of the humidifier water.

An example is the…. Humidifier that uses antimicrobial mode resisting plastic and it’s construction.

Another example is the… Humidifier that features an ultraviolet light that targets the water container so that bacteria is stopped before it has a chance to take root.

Which only makes sense since UV has been used for aquariums and barber shop disinfecting containers for as long as I can remember.

Though UV is also something you probably do not want in the children’s rooms either because it can damage your eyes if you stare into it.

warm mist humidifierSummary

In this article we tried to make the point that warm mist humidifiers can actually be safer because they raise the temperature of the water to a boiling point which is a bacteria killer.

Humidifiers for all their benefits also have a dark side.

Which is, they can grow mold and bacteria in the water when they are not cleaned often enough.

The result is that the mold and bacteria inside of the water becomes part of the air you breathe when the humidifier is turned on.

Inhaling airborne bacteria that come from water is the cause behind the horrific legionnaires disease.

Which can cause death primarily in people with low immunity such as the elderly.

Pontiac fever is a milder version of legionnaires that produces symptoms closer to pneumonia and is not usually fatal.

But although you can make the case that vaporizers and warm mist humidifiers are safer because they produce less bacteria, there is also the other side of the coin which is that vaporizers can create a swampy atmosphere which is uncomfortable when you are sick, and especially when you are trying to sleep.

What’s the alternative?

Thankfully humidifiers have continued to get better over the years and now you can purchase humidifiers that function as both warm mist and cool mist humidifiers.

There is also a new breed of humidifiers that is tackling the problem of humidifiers creating bacteria by building their units out of antimicrobial plastic that resists mold and targeting ultraviolet light on the water inside the basin to kill any bacteria before they become airborne.

But if purchasing a new humidifier is not in your immediate future, then there is the old elbow grease method combined with some acidic vinegar to keep your humidifier clean and protect you from bacteria growing in your humidifier and becoming airborne.

Published by

Dennis Reed

Dennis Reed Owner and Author @