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Cool Mist Humidifier Problems

By Nicole Papa ; Updated July 27, 2017

Cool mist humidifiers are commonly used to add moister to the air to treat and prevent nasal congestion. A cool mist humidifier fills the air with vapor using a system that sends water into the air using a fan. While a cool mist humidifier is recommended more than a hot mist humidifier because it doesn’t pose the threat of burning small children and pets, they can have certain issues a consumer should be aware of.

Background of Cool Mist

There are two systems used in cool mist humidifiers: ultrasonic and mist. Both are considered cool mist but work differently. Ultrasonic use a high frequency vibrating part that translates the water into clear mist. Mist humidifiers force water into droplets that disperses into the air. Mist humidifiers have visible mist that looks like steam but is cool, not hot.

Issues – Noise

Cool mist humidifiers run with a lot more noise than hot mist humidifiers. Hot mist humidifiers use a heating element that boils the water, causing steam to fill a room. A hot mist humidifier does not use a fan so there is virtually no noise. Cool mist humidifiers require a constant fan running in order to convert the water into vapor and push it into the air.

Issues – Mold

Mold spores are a concern with running a cool mist humidifier. Cool midst humidifiers do not heat the water so bacteria are not killed. If a cool mist humidifier is not cleaned properly, mold spores can develop causes possible health complications such as a lung infection or an allergic reaction. Most mold in cool mist humidifiers manifests itself as a pink-colored film. When the humidifier is turned on, the spores can be sent into the air, effecting people in the room.

Mold Prevention and Solution

In order to prevent and treat mold growth in a cool mist humidifier a person should follow the manufacture’s daily cleaning instructions. The water basin should be emptied and left to dray daily. If there is visible mold, the user should take the humidifier apart and soak the parts that are able to be emerged in bleach-water to kill all bacteria. If the filter is brown in color or has pink mold, it should be replaced.


Do not leave water in the cool mist humidifier when it is not in use. Always leave the humidifier empty and able to air dry. Do not place a humidifier on tables or furniture if small children or pets are present.

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