Tap Water or Distilled Water: Which Is The Best for Humidifiers?

Tap Water or Distilled Water: Which Is The Best for Humidifiers?

Last Updated: March 7, 2022

The most common question that clicks your mind every time you refill your humidifier is “Can I use tap water in humidifier?”.

Well, the short answer is No. We will tell you Why in a short while. 

To get the best result and to avoid white dust build-up, musty smell, or mold formation you need to put the right type of water in your humidifier.

Yes, the type of water matters, and that’s why in this comprehensive guide we have covered all types of water and will disclose which one you should use in your humidifier.

Let’s jump right in!


Distilled Water vs Purified Water vs Demineralized Water vs Filtered Water vs Tap Water

Before we look at which water to put in your humidifier, let’s first understand a little bit about each water type and what makes them different from one another.

Distilled Water

You get distilled water by boiling normal water and collecting the steam in a separate vessel. This is why distilled water in humidifiers is the safest choice besides its extensive uses in medical facilities and research centers. 

If you are planning on using distilled water for drinking purposes as a replacement for regular tap water, you should note that distilled water removes 99.9% of essential minerals that are necessary for human health. 

So, distilled water is definitely a yes for humidifiers but you should not use it for drinking.

Purified Water

Purified water is basically water supplied from the treatment facilities. Purified water goes through a certain level of purification to make water cleaner and safer for your consumption, and for humidifiers.

But, if the soil or nearby water bodies are rich in minerals chances are higher that your water will have dissolved minerals and salt in purified water making it unsuitable for humidifier use.

Demineralized Water

Demineralized water is obtained through extensive exchange of anion and cation removing every dissolved salt and nutrients, making it not fit for drinking or for any type of consumption like using it in cooking.

Because of repeated filtration, the water becomes free of dissolved minerals even the beneficial ones, however making it softer for humidifier use.  So you can definitely use demineralized water in humidifiers.

Filtered Water

Spring water or bottled water comes under the category of filtered water.

Filtered water undergoes some level of filtration to improve the taste of water but it does not go under extensive purification as it happens with purified water. 

It means filtered water still contains some amount of chemicals and microbes, but that depends on where you are getting your filtered water from. Some companies go the extra mile to do multiple levels of filtration. 

Your home filtration system may effectively remove microbes and microparticles to offer you clean and safe drinking water but this does not mean you should use it in your humidifier. 

Tap Water

Tap water reaches your home through the faucet after a certain level of filtration.  

Tap water is safe for consumption with or without filtration as the water quality is regulated by EPA.

Many homes still install a filtration system to further filter the tap before using it for drinking purposes. 

The water is filtered only to eliminate contaminants and reduce minerals in recommended amounts to maintain the water taste and quality.

Installing a filtration system doesn’t mean it makes tap water mineral-free.

Though tap water is safe for consumption, its moderate mineral content makes it unfit for humidifiers.


Frequently Asked Questions

What type of water is the best for humidifiers?

Tap water or bottled water (which is not labeled as distilled) is laden with minerals when gets dispersed into the air it leaves white dust around your humidifier, making the indoor air heavier, and inhaling it can worsen your breathing.

Besides this, the water you are using, also directly impacts the humidifier’s performance and longevity. 

These types of water form crusty layers in your humidifier water tank which becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria as water has high mineral content.

So the best type of water to put in your humidifier is distilled water, demineralized water, or purified water to enjoy a cleaner moisturizing effect and easy breathing.

Why do humidifiers need distilled water?

According to EPA, using distilled water in a humidifier is in every way verified owing to its rewarding effects on your health, indoor air quality, and supporting the appliance’s lasting efficiency. 

Let’s understand why putting distilled water in humidifier is the best way to maintain a healthy home environment.

1. Distilled water goes through multi-filtration to remove bacteria, heavy minerals, and other harmful contaminants.

2. Multi-stage filtration makes the water lighter and safer to use in a humidifier to function properly without leaving any mineral residue in its tank.

3. On using distilled water in a humidifier, you get only filtered lighter mist that is safe to inhale without any adverse impact on your external and internal health.

To conclude, distilled water is not only safe to use in a humidifier to enhance its performance & efficiency, but it also ensures a healthy environment for you and your loved ones. 

Can I use tap water in humidifier? What will happen if I put tap water in my humidifier?

No, you should not use tap water in a humidifier.

The reason is it contains minerals that get dispersed into the air in the form of mist when used in the humidifier and leaves white dust on the floor, furniture, etc. 

Also, the mist released from such mineral-laden water is harmful to your respiratory health and indoor environment.

The heavy minerals also get deposited in the humidifier tank and clog the filter to adversely affect its performance. 

If you live in area with high mineral content in the soil, chances are high for the tap water to be laden with minerals and you should definitely avoid using it in your humidifier. 

Water treatment facilities in your area surely filters the water to remove contaminants but also adds beneficial minerals to improve the taste, making tap water unsuitable for humidifiers. 

So avoid using tap water in humidifier.

Can I use filtered water in a humidifier?

Filtered water does a great job in removing harmful bacteria and chemicals from your drinking water but it does preserve the essential minerals that are much needed for the human body. 

So, although filtered water is safe for you to drink, you should not use it in your humidifier. 

Even if your water filtration system uses reverse osmosis the filtered water still has a small percentage of dissolved minerals and salts that leave white residue in the humidifier tank. 

The amount of white dust that filtered water leaves behind is less as compared to tap water, but you will definitely find them on your furniture, indoor plant leaves, and other objects near your humidifier.

It’s best to use only distilled water, demineralized water, or purified water in your humidifier.

Can I use purified water in a humidifier?

Definitely, you can use purified water in a humidifier to get maximum humidifying benefits.

If you want your humidifier to offer improved lasting performance, use purified water that is free of harmful contaminants, microbes, salt, and minerals to ensure a balanced moisturizing effect and healthy living at home. 

Using purified water is the safe water type to use in a humidifier as it disperses cleaner vapor which is safe for your skin health, indoor air, and also improves your respiratory health. 

Moreover, using purified water also improves the efficiency and longevity of humidifiers reducing the formation of mineral deposits and clogging the filter. 

So yes, purified water is a safe choice for humidifier use and your wellbeing.

But also note that if you live in an area that is rich in minerals, and salts then purified water will not be a safe choice for your humidifier. 

Keep an eye on the white dust particles around your humidifier. If using purified water in a humidifier is leading to white dust formation it means the water still has minerals and salt in it and you should stop using purified water.

Can I use bottled water in a humidifier?

Bottled water that is not labeled as ‘Distilled’ should not be used in humidifiers.

Bottled water or precisely, packaged drinking water may seem safe and viable to use in a humidifier but not really. 

Bottled water is treated and sealed packed for human consumption, many beneficial minerals, and salts are also added in little amounts to improve its taste and eliminate the odor of contaminants.

Moreover, research shows that water packed in plastic bottles allows the polymer particles to release into the water. 

So, when you put bottled water in a humidifier, the result is the same as filling tap water or even dangerous for the microplastic particles mixed in the water.

Considering the damaging consequences, it seems even bottled water isn’t safe if you want to reap maximum benefits of the humidifier to cure your dry skin and chest congestion issues. 

Can I use spring water in a humidifier?

Treated spring water might benefit your health by providing essential minerals but is injurious to the humidifier’s performance. 

Spring water is high in minerals like sodium, calcium, and magnesium that will form a thick deposit in the humidifier tank leading to clogging or malfunctioning.

By adding spring water in humidifier, you are not only risking your health but the entire indoor environment. 

Spring water falls into the category of hard water being a rich source of natural minerals and microbes, which when dispersed as vapor by the humidifier, will make the indoor air heavier with floating mineral particles.

Inhaling such heavy air may trigger breathing complications alongside casting a fine white layer on the floor, furniture, and area surrounding your humidifier.

Can I use demineralized water in humidifier?

Yes, demineralized water is safe to use in a humidifier.

Demineralized water has wide industrial uses especially in pharmaceuticals since it’s free of all impurities.

The filtration process to obtain demineralized water is a kind of chemical reaction also termed as deionization that attracts only the charged ions leaving behind the uncharged organic particles in the water. 

According to a study done by PMC, you should not use demineralized water for drinking or cooking purposes. This is because it sucks away the essential elements from food during cooking. 

Can I use purified water instead of distilled water in a humidifier?

While distilled water and humidifier are a match made in heaven, purified water is also a safe choice to enjoy the desired humidifying result and healthy living at home.

Though the extraction process is different for purified water, it does remove impurities, heavy minerals, and contaminants from the water. 

So if you don’t have access to distilled water, you can surely use purified water in a humidifier.

However, the purity of purified water also depends on your geographical and surrounding factors to an extent, which means if you live in an area where water is rich in minerals and salt, then you should not use purified water in your humidifier. 

So it’s up to you to decide the suitable water type for your home humidifier.

What happens if I don’t use distilled water in my humidifier?

You can use any type of water in your humidifier, but that would affect the unit’s performance, cutting short its longevity. 

Using regular water in a humidifier will form a mineral deposit in the tank, slowly damaging the humidifier’s performance.

When you use just any water in the humidifier but distilled, the mineral and impurities of the water get released as vapor into your home environment, making the air heavy and difficult to breathe. 

The minerals in the air also settle on the furniture, floor, and nearby objects surrounding your humidifier as white dust and may trigger allergic reactions in some people.

What can I use if I don’t have distilled water, in a humidifier?

Distilled water is the only undisputed choice for a humidifier, but in case you run out of distilled water, you can use demineralized, or purified water in the humidifier.

Demineralized water is almost the same as distilled water with no dissolved impurities and will form no deposits inside the humidifier tank. 

To be on the safer side, clean your humidifier tank weekly no matter the type of water you put in, to ensure its smooth functioning. 

If your humidifier is equipped with a filtration system, then make sure to change the filters or keep it clean to avoid a musty smell and mold/scale formation. 

If your filters are washable make sure to dry them completely after a thorough wash before installing them back into your humidifier.

Is boiled water and distilled water the same?

The collected steam by boiling water is indeed distilled, but the properties of boiled and distilled water are completely different and, so are the uses.

When you heat water until it reaches its boiling point bubbling is boiled water, while by collecting the steam in a separate vessel, you get distilled water that is completely free from all impurities, minerals, and contaminants.

Though boiled water removes microbes and bacteria it does not remove minerals from the water, so boiled water and distilled water are different.

As you already know that water for humidifiers should better be mineral-free to ensure its lasting performance and desired result, boiled water is nowhere near a match.

Using boiled water in a humidifier will deliver the same result as tap water by making the indoor air heavier and casting a white thin layer on the furniture.

However, boiled water is free of microorganisms with essential minerals making it suitable for drinking. 


Final Thoughts

We use humidifiers in our bedroom, kid’s room, living room, etc. to keep the dryness at bay.

And that’s why “Can I use tap water in humidifier” is the most common question that bugs the mind because tap water or sink water is readily available.

But using tap water in humidifier is a strict no because it contains minerals and salts which may clog your humidifier, form scale or mold in your humidifier water tank, and white dust around your humidifier, on the floor, and furniture.

So always use distilled water or demineralized water in your humidifier.

We hope that this comprehensive article was able to clear your confusion.


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