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Before You Buy Humidifiers and Vaporizers

What You Need To Know


Updated July 16, 2014

Compact home humidifier creates vapor.
Patti McConville/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Young children commonly get about 6 to 8 colds and upper respiratory tract infections each year. Increasing the air moisture is a common way to help your child feel better when he is congested and for other cold symptoms.

In general, a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier is preferred over a warm mist one because of the risk of your child getting accidentally burned. A cool mist humidifier can be especially helpful for kids that have croup.

Types of Humidifiers
Types of portable humidifiers include those that are ultrasonic, producing a cool mist by ultrasonic sound vibrations, or impeller humidifiers, which use a high-speed rotating disk or fan to make the mist. Both are known to disperse materials, such as microorganisms and minerals, from their water tanks into indoor air. Evaporative humidifiers, which use a fan to blow air through a wick or filter, do not.

Tap Water or Distilled
Humidifiers can disperse minerals into the air, and so it is usually best to use distilled water in your humidifier. Tap water contains many minerals, and if used, can cause a white dust to coat surfaces in your house, and scale to develop inside your humidifier, which can be a breeding ground for microorganisms.

In addition to dispersing minerals, humidifiers can disperse germs into the air. To minimize this from happening, be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions, and clean your humidifier regularly. Humidifiers can also increase dust mites and mold in your house, and should be avoided if your child has an allergy to dust mites or mold.

Hidden Costs
Many humidifiers need replacement filters or wicks. Knowing the cost of these replacement items and how often they have to be replaced can help you find the 'true' cost of your humidifier.

Top 5 Humidifiers and Vaporizers
View our top picks of humidifiers and vaporizers to help you decide which one is the best for you and your baby.

Related Video
How To Buy A Humidifier
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