Ultrasonic Humidifiers: What You Need to Know

Dry air can be a nightmare for your nose, eyes, skin, and mouth. Prevalent during winter which is cold and flu season, dry air can intensify the symptoms of infections and worsen skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

One of the recommended solutions to combat this parched air is a home ultrasonic humidifier. This article shares what you can expect with an ultrasonic humidifier to help you decide whether this is the humidifier for you.

The Difference Between an Ultrasonic Humidifier and An Evaporative Humidifier

There are two main types of home humidifiers: ultrasonic and evaporative. Since this article focuses on the former, let’s briefly break down the differences between the two. An evaporative humidifier utilizes a wicking material that is dipped into the water reservoir to absorb water. A fan then blows through the cloth creating a mist in the room.

An ultrasonic humidifier, however, uses a high-frequency vibrating diaphragm made from either ceramic or metal to produce an extra fine mist that is expelled into the room. This vibrating diaphragm sits on the water reservoir’s surface where it churns the water at a high frequency to create droplets that are then blown into the air by a fan.

An ultrasonic humidifier can be cool mist or warm mist, or both depending on the model.  Models that produce both cold and warm mist offer you the best of both worlds, allowing you to adapt the unit to your seasonal needs.

What to Look For in An Ultrasonic Humidifier

When selecting an ultrasonic humidifier, there are some important features to seek out to ensure you end up with the best unit. These include:

Pre-programmed settings

Consider a humidifier that has varied settings. This allows you to control the humidity levels during the different seasons. It should at least have comfort, allergy, cold & flu, nose & throat, and dry skin settings to effectively meet your needs through the year.

Noise levels

Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally quiet, but some models barely emit a sound during operation. If you want something audible try one that only reaches 40 decibels. Although this is still an audible hum, it is below the noise level of a conversation (roughly 60 dB) so it is not disruptive to your sleep nor do you have to talk over it to be heard.


An ultrasonic humidifier without a humidity monitor can introduce too much moisture into the air, which in turn can facilitate the growth of mold and mildew. That is why ultrasonic humidifiers come fitted with a built-in humidity monitor called a humidistat. A humidistat detects the moisture levels in the air and triggers the unit to switch off when there is enough moisture release to keep humidity within the ideal range between 30 to 50 percent.

Water reservoir

Ultrasonic humidifiers can be compact for portability or large enough to cater for bigger spaces.  The water tanks are tailored to meet the specific use of the humidifier. This makes them ideal for small spaces like your car or larger rooms like your bedroom or living room.

Hours of operation

The more hours of operation your humidifier offers the better. The point is to ensure there is consistent moisture release into the air with shut off only when the air has enough moisture. A unit that can be used continuously for 8 to 24 hours is an excellent option.

Assembling an Ultrasonic Humidifier

When you first receive your ultrasonic humidifier you will find the humidifier, a cleaning brush, AC power adapter, and user manual in the package. The humidifier itself consists of the mist nozzle and water reservoir, however some models include a water filter just in case you are not using distilled water with the humidifier.

Assemble your humidifier by following the instructions in the user manual. Even if you have owned a humidifier before, take the time to read the assembly instructions for your new unit because units vary. This will also help you get aspects like the programmability, speed, and time settings right. Once assembled, make sure you rinse out the unit before adding water into it.  Place your nozzle in place and turn the humidifier on.

Benefits of an Ultrasonic Humidifier

There are many benefits that make the addition of a humidifier essential, but let’s highlight a few of the key perks particularly in the dry months of winter:

Reduced Transmission of Viruses

The winter season comes with plenty of viral and bacterial infections that move rapidly in dry air, but this movement can be hindered by moisture in the air. By keeping your indoor air moist a humidifier lessens the chances that you will get or transmit infections easily.

If you are already battling an infection a humidifier, makes it comfortable to breathe and may allow you to heal faster. You cough and sneeze less because the humidity keeps your respiratory tract moist resulting in less irritation.

Cleared Sinuses

Dealing with blocked sinuses can make life miserable. The moisture from the humidifier can lubricate your nasal passage to get rid of the dryness and tightness within your nose. As a result, you are less susceptible to nose and throat infections.

Supple Skin

Cold air strips your skin off moisture leading to dry, cracked, and chapped skin. Dry air is especially brutal to babies and kids skin. Their skin is more sensitive and succumbs faster to the effects of dry air. A humidifier ensures your skin remains supple, soft, and moisturized.

Better Sleep

Breathing in dry air makes it hard to settle into comfortable sleep since your throat and nose feel parched and dry. Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom enables your body to achieve comfortable internal conditions that facilitate restful, restorative sleep. Did you know that the drier the air the worse you snore? The moisture from the humidifier can moisten your throat to reduce snoring.

Maintaining Your Ultrasonic Humidifier

Since a humidifier operates on a daily basis it requires regular and consistent cleaning and maintenance. Let’s look briefly what this can entail.

Daily cleaning:

Whenever you switch off your ultrasonic humidifier you should aim to clean it before the next use. To start the process, simply detach the nozzle from the water reservoir, empty the reservoir and rinse both with clean water and pat dry with a clean towel. Be careful with the sensitive parts of the humidifier like the sensor. Allow all the parts to air dry before reassembling the unit.

This daily cleaning ensures you don’t have to worry about water lingering too long in the reservoir and attracting bacteria.

Weekly cleaning:

For a more thorough cleaning, fill the water reservoir halfway with warm water that has white vinegar or bleach. Two tablespoons of either is sufficient to disinfect and decalcify the water tank. Swirl the water reaching all parts of the reservoir.

Let it sit for half an hour; then, using the brush that comes with the humidifier, you can gently scrub the interior of the water tank. Do the same for the water basin as well. Rinse all the parts in warm water and let them air dry.

Some brands like Pureguardian H5450BCA warm and cool mist ultrasonic humidifier come with UV lights built into the reservoir to kill germs, but most models require manual cleaning and maintenance.

Truths and Myths About Humidifiers

Myth: Humidifiers Should Only Be Used in Winter

The benefits of humidifiers can be reaped across all seasons. In the summer the temperatures can be high but not necessarily humid, particularly if you live in a dryer climate. Using a cool mist humidifier increases the moisture content in the air without affecting the temperatures.

Humidifiers also counter the dry air blown by air conditioners rampantly used in the summer. There is a lot of pollen and mold during summer months that can trigger allergies. Humidifiers with allergy setting can help you cope with the symptoms and effects of allergic reactions by decongesting your airways.

Myth: An Ultrasonic Humidifier Means White Dust Everywhere

White dust can be a problem with ultrasonic humidifiers, but it can be prevented.If you are dealing with white dust from your humidifier you are using hard water, so if you use a demineralization filter, which help remove impurities in water, you can minimize the potential for the formation of white dust. The white dust can also be prevented by using filters or distilled water.

Truth: Animals and Plants Also Benefit From a Humidifier

Your plants and pets also get parched and uncomfortable from dry air.  Animals become lethargic and can develop coughs and runny noses while plants droop for lack of moisture. The moisture from the humidifier can keep them vibrant during a dry winter spell. It also prevents your wooden furniture from splitting or cracking and helps prevent wallpaper and paint from peeling.

Truth: Poor Maintenance Can Cause a Health Hazard

Poorly maintained and dirty humidifiers are breeding places for infection-causing bacteria and fungi. They could spread germs and cause respiratory problems when they blow the air contaminated with bacteria or fungi. The white dust from hard water is also a potential health risk when inhaled.

Truth: A Humidifier Cannot Replace Medical Treatment

Your humidifier does not cure respiratory infections; it only helps lessen the usually uncomfortable and painful effects of the infection. For example, it will not cure a cold or a case of the flu but the moisture will help ease your symptoms and can lessen the irritation in the throat.

Final Thoughts

Nothing prepares you for the winter like a highly effective ultrasonic humidifier. These units allow for a comfortable and pleasant winter where you can actually enjoy the season, and your animals, plants, and even furnishings will come out in great shape at the end of the season.

Is an ultrasonic humidifier right for you, though? The answer to this question depends on what qualities you are looking for in a humidifier. They are quiet machines – some operate at barely a whisper – which is a huge plus especially if you plan to use the unit in the bedroom or around babies and children. They can be used all year round, and many of them come with a built-in timer that enables you to program the unit to run for specific number of hours even in your absence to keep the air adequately humid by the time you return.

In addition, ultrasonic humidifiers make for a great option for families or households with kids. They do not generate any heat, which makes them relatively safe, especially in comparison to steam humidifiers. In short, if you are looking for a device to keep humidity levels optimal throughout the year, an ultrasonic humidifier is a great option.

Our Top Three Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

An ideal option for a large room, the Levoit LV600HH has a 1.5 gallon water reservoir which eliminates the worry of running out of water quickly. The noise level emitted is only 36 dB, and it is fitted with a humidistat to monitor the humidity levels. It comes with a remote control making operating it easy and convenient.

Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Humidifier

If you are working with a limited budget, you should consider the Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier from Everlasting Comfort. It does not compromise on quality despite being budget-friendly. The reservoir can hold up to 1.6 gallons of water requiring minimal refilling. In fact, it can run for up to 50 hours before it needs refilling.

Despite having only one nozzle it does a good job of rotating and dispensing the mist efficiently. It doesn’t need a filter and also comes with an essential oils tray and works very well for medium to large spaces.

Pureguardian H5450BCA Ultrasonic Humidifier

Fitted with a UV-C light to kill germs in the reservoir, the Pureguardian H5450BCA can guarantee clean mist with every use. The unit is capable of offering cold and warm mist, and  it also has silver Clean Protection technology that tackles any growth of mold or mildew in the unit.

The control panel is straightforward and easy to use, and the unit itself can offer up to 100 continuous hours of use when on the lowest speed. The automatic shut off features means you can set it and forget it; the essential oils tray is also an excellent way to guarantee a fresh smelling home or room.

Further Reading