Air Purifiers Vs. Humidifiers: What’s the Difference?

Air purifiers and humidifiers are household must-haves for those who value the quality of their indoor air (which should be everyone). However, these two items are frequently mistaken to be one and the same when they’re not. They greatly differ in functionality and corresponding benefits. In the simplest terms, one removes things from the air while the other adds to it.

Let’s break down the differences between an air purifier and a humidifier to help you understand how each one can benefit your home.

Air Purifiers: Helping You Breathe Easier

The primary function of an air purifier is to improve the quality of the air you breathe. It does this by removing physical pollutants from the air such as pollen, dander, dust, and smoke particles. It can also deactivate pathogens, like mold spores and bacteria, that may cause or aggravate illnesses.

Air purifiers are designed with two main components that aid in air cleansing:

  1. A fan to pull in polluted air, including unseen particles and pathogens, for purification and to push out purified air.
  2. Filters, which are typically equipped with multiple layers for maximum purification. Not all air purifiers are made the same, as some have fewer filters or use lower-quality materials. Sans is a medical-grade air purifier that is built with three filters for optimal air cleaning:
    1. Pre-filter: This filter traps larger physical pollutants, such as dander, hair, and dust, to ease the burden off the other filters and extend the overall lifespan.
    2. HEPA 13 filter: This is where most of the magic happens. Also called a true HEPA filter, this layer effectively removes 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size and 99.95% of particles that are 0.1 microns in size. It catches particulates and allergens invisible to the eye, like dust mites, mold spores, viruses, and bacteria.
    3. Activated carbon filter: This neutralizes harmful chemicals that are present in the air, such as fumes emitted by personal care products, cleaning products, and formaldehyde.


While those are the two primary parts that make up an air purifier, Sans takes it a step further. It’s also equipped with an interior UV-C light that sanitizes the filters inside. It neutralizes the microorganisms and pathogens that are captured by the filters, ensuring that they don’t grow and affect the quality of the air (or the inner workings of the purifier).

Because its main function is air cleansing, air purifiers are typically used in rooms where the air quality needs to be improved or regulated. If you or a member of your household suffers from asthma or seasonal allergies, air purifiers can help by removing allergens from the air. It’s important to note that air purifiers don’t cure these respiratory illnesses if they are already pre-existing, but they can help alleviate symptoms by minimizing the presence of triggers in the air.

An air purifier is ideal for rooms that are prone to dust accumulation and odors caused by cooking or pets. It’s also great for overall lung health as it keeps pollutants and harmful chemicals in the air at a minimum.

Humidifier: Adding Moisture to the Air You Breathe

The main purpose of a humidifier is to increase moisture in the air. It does this by adding water to the air via water vapor or mist. Importantly, note that a humidifier does not clean the air or remove anything from it.

The National Asthma Council of Australia says that you should keep humidity levels between 30% and 50%. Air humidifiers boost the humidity of a room in different ways depending on the product design:

  • Boiling water to generate water vapor and release warm mist.
  • Blowing a fan through a moistened wick filter.
  • Vibrating water with ultrasonic technology to introduce water droplets into the air.


Since its purpose is to increase air moisture, a humidifier is normally used in climates or seasons with dry air, such as winter. It can help relieve the physical effects of excessively dry air such as chapped lips, irritated sinuses, and dry skin. While it doesn’t cure any illnesses, increasing air humidity to 40 to 50% can reduce a virus’s infectiousness and can alleviate an irritated dry throat and nose.

An air humidifier may also be useful if you frequently experience respiratory or sinus issues due to dry air.

Remember that you should stick to using distilled water for air humidifiers and regularly disinfect the unit to avoid bacteria buildup. 

Can an Air Purifier and Humidifier Be Used Together?

Despite having contrasting functions, an air purifier and humidifier can be used by the same household, even at the same time and in the same room. However, it’s best to keep them apart as the moisture emitted by the humidifier may contribute to the clogging of the air purifier. This really comes down to the placement and location of each unit. (Learn more about the best place to put your air purifier.)

It’s also important to remember that air purifiers and humidifiers must be properly cleaned and maintained to continue functioning effectively. Sans air purifiers are intelligently designed to protect and prolong the lifespan, especially using the pre-filter to catch larger particles and the UV-C light to sanitize the filters. But if needed, you can also get a replacement three-stage filter.

On the other hand, humidifiers require more frequent cleaning and sanitation. After each use, keep the water chamber empty and dry to avoid mold and bacteria growth.

Ready to improve the quality of the air you breathe? Shop with Sans today and feel the difference.