Shopping Guide

Which One is Best for Your Home: A Diffuser or A Humidifier?

Here is a quick guide between a diffuser and humidifier to help you decide which one is better for your space

Photography: Pixabay

Many of us may think that diffusers and humidifiers are one and the same, but these two devices actually have several notable differences, not only in their functions but also in what they can do in a home. Here is what you need to know, and how you can decide how which one is better for your space.

What is a diffuser?

A diffuser is a small electricity-run machine that is primarily used to add a particular scent to the air inside the home. This small machine has a container where drops of essential oils are mixed with water, and the machine's vents release the aroma of those essential oils into the air.

There are four common types of diffusers:

  • Evaporative: This type uses a filter or a pad along with a small fan to dispense oil through the air and spread the scent quickly.
  • Heat: This type functions similarly to an evaporative diffuser except that it uses heat to spread the aroma instead of a fan.
  • Nebulizer: This type uses a suction effect to break down the essential oil into smaller particles that can be released as tiny droplets into the air.
  • Ultrasonic: This type uses water to break down the essential oils, then disperses them into the air through a fine mist. Ultrasonic diffusers are usually also considered “humidifying diffusers” because aside from diffusing scents, they can also add moisture to the atmosphere through the fine mist they release.


What is a humidifier?

A humidifier is a device used mainly to adjust levels of moisture of the air inside a home. Because of this function, humidifiers are very helpful in allowing our skin to absorb just the right amount of moisture. It is also advisable to use a humidifier if you have wooden furniture and wall or floor finishes at home since dry wood can crack and split easily.


There are four common types of humidifiers:

  • Warm mist: This type boils water and produces a warm mist through the use of a small motor and a fan.
  • Cool mist: This type functions similarly to a warm mist humidifier except that it releases a cooling and soothing mist instead of a warm one.
  • Impeller: This type has disks that spin and break water down into tiny droplets before releasing them into the air.
  • Ultrasonic: Similar to ultrasonic diffusers, this type releases particles of essential oils into the air by way of cool mist, therefore not only spreading the scent of the oils but also adding moisture to the air.


Diffuser or humidifier: what to get?

While there are products that can perform the functions of both diffusers and humidifiers, it is still important to take several measures in mind when deciding on which product to purchase for your home. One question to ask yourself in making this decision is what do you want out of your new device? Do you want to make your home smell good and to experience the other benefits of aromatherapy? Or do you want to increase the humidity of the air in your space? Knowing the effects you want will be very helpful in determining whether you should get a humidifier or a diffuser.


To determine an answer to this question, it can help to look at whatever health- or wellness-related issues you or anyone in your family may be experiencing at home. For example, if you encounter a lot of stress and think that aromatherapy might be beneficial in helping you calm down, a diffuser might be a better choice. Some studies have also found that diffusers can reduce the presence of bacteria and fungus in a space, so that’s another advantage to think about. On the other hand, if your primary goal is to adjust the level of humidity inside your home and prevent symptoms of respiratory illnesses in your family, it might be more helpful to use a humidifier.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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