This One Tip Will Solve Your Dry Air Problem (and Make Your Home Smell Good)

published Feb 29, 2024
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Shot of essential oil aroma diffuser humidifier diffusing water articles in the air while woman listening music lying on coach.
Credit: Josep Suria

The air seems to get even colder and drier in the wintertime. If your humidifier isn’t already working overtime to manage the humidity in your home, this may be the time to bust it out — particularly if your skin is dry and cracked, your sinuses are begging for moisture, or your lips need even more help than the balm you’ve been applying hourly can offer.

Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and if you own an essential oil diffuser, you may have noticed that both of these machines emit a strikingly similar soft mist. It would make sense to add a few drops of lavender into your humidifier, right? Well … pause for a second before you do. If you’ve ever asked, “Can you put essential oils in a humidifier?” here’s the scoop.

Quick Overview

Can You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier?

  • Adding essential oils to a traditional humidifier will most likely damage the machine. 
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers, however, are compatible with essential oils and are safe to diffuse.
  • Stick to a diffuser if you’re only looking for the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils, but look for ultrasonic humidifiers with aromatherapy trays if you’d like to both add moisture to the air and make your home smell good.

Can I put essential oils in my humidifier?

As tempting as it is, the short answer is no. You should not put essential oils in your humidifier — at least not directly into the water tank or reservoir. “Putting essential oils directly into the reservoir risks damaging the product,” Lori Scooros, home environment and home solutions director at Homedics, shares.

Plus, she says, “Putting essential oils into the tank will not produce an aroma, as the oils are not water-soluble, meaning they will only sit on the top of the water.” Not ideal if you’re looking to add moisture and fragrance into the air. Not all humidifiers are off-limits, however. 

What is an ultrasonic humidifier?

A more nuanced answer to “Can you put essential oils in a humidifier?” would actually be the following: Maybe, but it depends on the machine. Essential oils are safe to use in ultrasonic humidifiers, as these are filter-free. According to Healthline, “Ultrasonic humidifiers produce a cool mist with the help of ultrasonic vibration,” although there are both cool and warm mist options out there.

While there are many ultrasonic humidifiers to choose from, look out for humidifiers like this one that include essential oil cotton pads and aromatherapy trays so you can diffuse without worry. “We recommend putting essential oils onto cotton pads that can go into oil trays that are inserted into the side of the unit. This ensures best performance and longevity of the product,” Scooros says.

It’s a good idea to look specifically for a two-in-one humidifier and oil diffuser if you’d like a machine that can do both, like an ultrasonic. Remember, essential oil diffusers are built to pump fragrance into a room, not add moisture to the air like humidifiers. It’s best to stick with an essential oil diffuser if you’re just looking for the aromatherapy benefits, however an ultrasonic humidifier can bring both fragrance and hydration.

Credit: DimaBerlin / Shutterstock

Which essential oils should I use in my humidifier?

There are many benefits to using essential oils with your humidifier — especially in the winter. Keep in mind that essential oils are incredibly potent and a little goes a long way, so only add a few drops at a time and enjoy!

  • Stuck at home with a cold? Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils include properties that can help with respiratory troubles and make breathing easier. Add a few drops and inhale deeply. 
  • There’s a good chance you’re turning on your humidifier at night, so bedtime is the perfect opportunity to add a few drops of lavender or cedarwood essential oil, which are known to help with relaxation and restful sleep.
  •  If you’re running your humidifier during the day, any citrus oil like lemon, grapefruit, or orange can not only help keep you energized, but it will also make your home smell fresh and clean as a sweet bonus.