How Long Does It Take for a Humidifier to Work?

how long does it take for a humidifier to work

How long does it take for a humidifier to work? How can you tell if your humidifier is actually working? These are questions that lots of new humidifier owners ask when they’re setting up their humidifier for the first time. 

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! This article will answer all of your questions and help you better understand your humidifier and its efficiency. This article also discusses how to choose the best humidifier that works for you, the benefits of a humidifier, and how to get the most out of your humidifier.

What Are the Benefits of a Humidifier?

Improved Air Quality

A humidifier comes with more benefits than you may realize. The first benefit that most people think of is improved air quality. A humidifier improves air quality by adding moisture to the air and increasing the humidity to a healthier level.

Avoiding the Cold and Flu

One of the biggest benefits of a humidifier is that it helps prevent sickness during flu season. When the outside air is drier than usual, adding humidity to your home helps your body fight the effects of airborne diseases.

Alleviating Symptoms When You Do Have the Cold and Flu

In the instance that you do get a cold or the flu, a humidifier may help speed up recovery by loosening congestion and making it easier for you to breathe. This may help alleviate symptoms such as sleep deprivation, sore throat, and sinus headaches.

Prevents Dry Skin and Hair

Another great benefit of a humidifier is preventing your skin and scalp from becoming dry. When the air gets too dry, you may notice dandruff or more dry and brittle hair. However, added moisture in the air helps to prevent this. The same goes for your skin, since both skin and hair are made of collagen and require moisture.

Improving Quality of Sleep

Home Air Humidifier Device In Bedroom

A humidifier provides a more comfortable atmosphere by reducing the symptoms you may experience from the dry air such as a sore throat, stuffy nose, and even a dry mouth. By improving the airflow quality, it also helps with sleep apnea and snoring.

The White Noise May Be Soothing

The white noise a humidifier provides might also be considered another benefit. White noise is comforting to some as it blocks out outside noises and sounds and can help you to relax, sleep, or meditate. White noise can even train your brain to know when to fall asleep.

The Benefits of a Humidifier for a Baby

A humidifier can be very beneficial for a baby. The moist air that a humidifier provides makes it easier for the baby to breathe, can make sleep more comfortable, and can also help with any eczema issues. Some babies also find the white noise from humidifiers quite soothing.

So, How Long Does It Take for a Humidifier to Work?

Depending on the type of humidifier you purchased, the brand, and the cost, there are many factors to consider — however, the typical range of time it takes for a humidifier to start going into full effect ranges from 1-3 hours. 

If you do not notice any difference after 24 hours, something is probably wrong. Consult the instruction manual to make sure that the humidifier is properly turned on. If possible, look for a humidifier that has a good warranty plan so that you can make sure you’re covered if it turns out to be defective.

How Can You Tell if Your Humidifier is Working?

A Hygrometer

The most effective way to tell is by using a hygrometer. A hygrometer measures how effective the humidifier is at increasing the humidity in the air. Sometimes, these are embedded in the actual humidifier itself but can also be purchased separately.

Other Signs Your Humidifier is Working

Other signs that a humidifier is working include improved breathing, less frizzy hair, refreshing sleep, and even less static electricity or shocks when touching someone.

How Long Should You Leave Your Humidifier On?

This question will depend on room size and temperature. A smaller room will take less time to get to a good humidity level than a larger room. You want to ideally keep the humidity level to 30-50%. Most people will notice its effects within 12 hours.

How Can I Make My Humidifier Work Better?

Family Near Modern Air Humidifier at Home

The type of Water You Use Is Important

Distilled water is your best option for your humidifier as it does not contain the mineral impurities that tap water does. Distilled water provides better air quality, prevents mold growth, and even keeps your humidifier clean since it doesn’t contain impurities.

Make Sure to Empty Out the Water in the Tank

You should never leave water in your humidifier tank when not in use. This is because when the water is left sitting for more than a few days, it is prone to breeding nasty substances such as bacteria and mold.

Cleaning Your Humidifier Is Important for Optimal Use

It’s important to clean your humidifier frequently to prevent mold and bacteria from forming, which can happen at an alarmingly fast rate. 

White Vinegar 

White vinegar acts as a cleaning agent for the components of your humidifier and is a great alternative to other cleaning products that may contain toxic substances. White vinegar can also be mixed into your humidifier water to act as a disinfectant by cleansing the air you breathe in the room. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is a great, inexpensive addition to your humidifier water for cleaning purposes. You only need to add half a teaspoon to the reservoir of water, and it should work to prevent mold and bacteria from forming.

Best Places to Keep Your Humidifier


The #1 spot to keep a humidifier is definitely next to your bed. Keeping your humidifier in such close proximity improves your quality of sleep, boosts your immune system, and the cool mist even helps you breathe easier, which is very beneficial to those prone to snoring or sleep apnea.

Living Room

Another great place to put a humidifier is in the living room so that everyone in the house can enjoy its benefits. By increasing the moisture in the air, a humidifier helps lessen the risk of spreading germs and allergies.

Whole House Humidifiers

Some people go as far as to install a whole house humidifier because of the great health benefits it provides to an entire home. A whole house humidifier is typically attached to the furnace.

How to Choose the Best Humidifier for My Home

Person Activating Humidifier at Home

Let’s look at the differences between cool and warm mist humidifiers.

Warm Mist Humidifier

A warm mist humidifier works by heating the water before releasing it. This is beneficial because the boiling process helps to kill any mold or bacteria before releasing it into the air, making the air you breathe even cleaner. Warm mist humidifiers are also quieter due to their lack of an internal fan.

Cool Mist Humidifier

A cool mist humidifier works by releasing an ultrafine mist into the air. Since the water is not heated before it is released, a cool mist humidifier actually uses less electricity than a warm mist humidifier and can also be used in larger spaces.

Reading the Reviews

One of the best indicators of a good humidifier is good reviews. The effects of a good humidifier should be noticeable after 12 hours. A high-quality humidifier should also be easy to maintain and clean.  

Consider the Size of the Room

Another great deciding factor to consider when purchasing a humidifier is the size of the room you want to put the humidifier in. The effectiveness of a humidifier is relative to the square footage of the room and the approximate number of gallons needed to fill the room.


So, how long does it take for a humidifier to work? The time it takes to notice a difference after installing a humidifier depends on many different factors, but most people will start to notice a difference within 1-12 hours. This depends on factors such as the type of humidifier, the room size, and the temperature. 

If you want to be very technical with your humidifier, it is in your best interest to purchase a hygrometer to measure how effective your humidifier actually is. The prices of hygrometers range from $5-$30, but some humidifiers already come equipped with hygrometers. If you know that you’d be interested in having a hygrometer, look for a humidifier that already comes equipped with one. 

If you’re interested in learning more about humidifiers or are curious about our recommendations for the best humidifiers on the market, check out the other articles we have on Home and Hamper!

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