Choosing a Humidifier: Warm or Cool Mist?

Jack Frost is nipping at many of us with his chilly temps, and we're fighting back by turning up the heat. It keeps us warm, but completely dries out the air we breathe, so we end up with dry skin, chapped lips, a sore throat, dry cough, or congested sinuses. You can get relief by running a humidifier, which will add moisture back into the air. Many people use them while they sleep — the gentle whirring sound can be so relaxing.

POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim

When buying a humidifier, you'll be presented with two different types: warm mist and cool mist. To choose which one would be best for you, decide what type bst suits your lifestyle.

Warm mist humidifiers heat up the water inside, and then hot steam is released into the air. These are great if the room is cold. Since the water is boiled before being dispersed into the air, it can cut down on airborne bacteria and mold. Keep in mind that this type of humidifier is not great if you have kids, since there is a possibility of burns.

Cool mist humidifiers tend to make a little more noise than warm mist units. Instead of heating up the water inside, the water is passed over a wick and vapor is expelled. These can cool down the overall temperature of the room, and also need to be cleaned frequently. If you have children or mischievous pets, these might be the best option, since the vapor won't burn the skin when touched.

For both types, some models require the use of filters, which will need to be replaced. Find out how much filters cost, their availability, and how easy they are to change. Filters will collect the mineral deposits in the water that would otherwise form a white dust on the furniture in your room. If you don't want to deal with filters, look for a humidifier that doesn't use them. Also consider the noise factor. If the humidifier is being used in your bedroom and you're a light sleeper, you may want to spend the extra dough on one that has a low or silent option.

When running a humidifier, you'll also want to use a hygrometer. This simple device measures how much humidity is in the air. You don't want the humidity to go above 50 percent, since that will encourage the growth of mold spores, bacteria, and dust mites. A humidity of 35 to 45 percent is optimal.