Where To Place a Humidifier For Maximum Performance

Ile Kauppila

Written By

Ile Kauppila

Expert Reviewed By

Josh Mitchell

Last Updated On

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There’s no “Golden Rule” on where to place a humidifier as it depends on many things, like the type of humidifier, the room, and the direction of airflow.

I wrote this detailed humidifier placement guide so you can find the best place for a humidifier in your home.

Key Takeaways

  • Always choose a central location for your humidifier away from walls and windows
  • For Bedrooms keep the humidifiers at least 3 Ft away from the bed and not directly aimed at the bed.
  • For Nursery and Baby’s Room, take extra precautions and keep the humidifier at a safe height to avoid accidental spills and knockovers.
  • For Living Spaces and Offices, a central location is preferred.

Where Should You Place Your Humidifier (Various Rooms Explained)

I often see people buy an expensive humidifier and then put it in the wrong place. That can make the whole unit completely useless — or could damage your health and home.

So where to put humidifier units in your home?

I will give you a simple general rule of thumb to find the best place for your humidifier in any room.

Always follow the Three Cs — central, central, and central.

Put a humidifier in the center of the room and it can do the best job to alleviate dry winter conditions or reduce asthma symptoms while avoiding mold growth and water damage.

But each room in your home has a different layout that adds its own considerations.

Let’s go through your house room by room and see where your humidifier should go.

Bedroom – At Least 3ft Away From Bed

Humidifier placement in bedroom
The ideal placement for a humidifier in the bedroom is at least three feet away from your bed.

This location allows the humidifier to add moisture to the air effectively.

You also won’t accidentally kick it over while sleeping or when getting out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This is particularly important with warm mist humidifiers.

If you bought a quiet cool mist humidifier specifically to help you sleep, though, you can put it on a small table or nightstand by your bed.

Evaporative and ultrasonic humidifiers produce a cooling effect that can help you achieve peaceful sleep while mitigating coughing and dry skin.

Make sure you don’t aim the mist stream directly at your bed to avoid soaking your bed linens.

Living Room – Ideally At A Central Location

Living room humidifier placement

Living rooms are generally large spaces, so try to find a central place in the room so the humidifier can reach as much of the space as possible.

A humidifier in the center of the living room ensures maximum moisture distribution to eliminate dry air and make the room even cozier to relax in.

In a large room, the relative humidity level can vary between different areas.

That’s why I recommend investing in a hygrometer to see which parts of your living room have dry air.

Aim the humidifier’s mist stream towards these areas to add moisture where it’s needed the most.

Remember to avoid windows, radiators, and vents, as well as areas with object obstructions or poor airflow.

If you have a lot of paintings or other decorations on your walls, it’s a good idea to check them regularly after you set up the humidifier to make sure the increased humidity levels aren’t harming them.

Office – Choose A Central Location Or 1ft Away From Wall

Humidifier placement in office

Many offices have lots of wooden furniture that can be damaged by water leaks, spills, or too much moisture in the dry air.

Put a humidifier in a central location and consider placing a collection tray under it to catch any leaking water.

This way, a humidifier can actually protect all that wood. As a desert dweller, I know all too well that very dry air can cause cracks in your fancy work desk.

Adding moisture to the air prevents dry rot and keeps your furniture in good condition.

Wood isn’t the only water-sensitive thing in your office — you probably have at least one computer and phone in there (I know I do).

Make sure the humidifier isn’t blowing directly on them so the mist won’t damage sensitive electronics.

You can’t always have the humidifier in the center of the office.

In these cases, consider putting an evaporative humidifier on a small desk at least one foot away from any wall.

You could also get a lightweight portable humidifier that you can quickly turn off and push aside for big meetings.

Bathroom – On A Countertop Away From Water Outlets

humidifier placement in bathroom

There is limited space available in the bathroom, so you will most likely have to put your humidifier on the counter.

In my experience, though, most bathrooms don’t need a humidifier.

Bathrooms already have high moisture levels, so adding a humidifier may make them much too moist and humid, causing bacterial growth and water damage.

You’re more likely to need a bathroom dehumidifier instead.

If you decide it makes sense to have a humidifier in your bathroom, I recommend a small natural evaporative humidifier. These devices rely on natural unassisted evaporation instead of using fans.

If the relative humidity readings in your bathroom climb, water will not evaporate from the humidifier, helping you prevent moisture problems.

Nursery – At Least 3ft Away From The Crib

humidifier placement in nursery

Always use a cool mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom. They are much safer around children as they don’t produce any heat, as opposed to warm mist humidifiers.

A warm mist humidifier’s belching hot steam in the kid’s room is only asking for trouble.
Keep the cool mist humidifier at least three feet away from the crib or your child’s bed and any electronics.

It could get accidentally knocked over, or your kid might try to play with it if they can’t fall asleep.

In either case, you will soon be mopping wet floors, so it’s best to maintain a safe distance.

Place your humidifier out of the reach of small hands. Put your evaporative or ultrasonic humidifier on a high desk or table where children can’t get to it.

Finally, monitor the moisture readings in your baby’s room with a hygrometer to ensure the air doesn’t get too damp.

Excessively moist air is not good for your child or the room.

If air gets too damp even with the humidifier’s lowest setting, you can try cracking the door ajar to let some moisture out.

I recommend buying a smaller humidifier, though — it’s worth it for your child’s health.


Humidifiers Placement Summarized

The following table summarizes the ideal placement for humidifier in different locations.

Room

Humidifier Location

Bedroom

– Bedroom 3 ft away from the bed at least
– Not directly aimed at bed

Living Room

– Center Ideally
– Away from windows and vents
– Not close to paintings and decoration on the wall

Office

– Away from any water outlet to avoid shock hazards or water damage

Bathroom

– Away from water outlets

Baby Room

– Center Ideally
– Away from office appliances like computers and phone
– For personal humidification, on a desk/shelf 1ft away from any wall.


5 Factors Affecting Home Humidifier Usage & Placement

My number one tip for humidifier placement is: don’t trust your gut feeling. Think about the specifics of your home and the type of humidifier you have in order to get the most benefit out of properly humidified air.

Here are my top 5 considerations to keep in mind when deciding where to put a humidifier in your home:

Humidifier Type Determines Its Placement

When advising people on where to put their humidifiers, I always begin by considering the humidifier’s type.

A poorly matched location and type of humidifier can not only make the device useless but also put you and your family in danger.

Warm mist humidifiers depend on hot water to create steam, so they generate a lot of heat.

Important Note

Never place a warm mist humidifier near a bed, any object susceptible to heat damage, or in a place where it can get toppled easily.

You could burn yourself on the hot steam or accidentally knock the humidifier over, causing scalds and a fire hazard.

Cool mist humidifiers, like ultrasonic humidifiers and evaporative humidifiers, work best when you place them on a higher stable surface, like a table or a nightstand.

This way they can efficiently disperse water droplets into the air to humidify the room.

They don’t generate heat, so you can place them closer to other objects as long as they don’t restrict the airflow or absorb all the mist.

With a whole-house humidifier, you don’t have much choice. Whole-house humidifiers attach to your furnace or central air conditioning.

Yet you still need to ensure you install them properly in the right spot on your air system.

Room Size, Height & Configuration Affect Humidifier’s Performance

humidifier sqft coverage

The square footage, height, and layout of a room greatly affect how well a humidifier works in it.

You should place a humidifier in a room that’s the appropriate size for the machine.

I like to help people understand the importance of humidifier size by comparing the unit to a heater.

If the heater is too large or small, it will cause problems — and the same goes for humidifiers.

A large humidifier can emit too much mist for a small room and cause moisture and mold issues. Vice versa, a small humidifier will struggle to humidify larger rooms.

With a large room with high ceilings, it’s best to place your humidifier in a central location.

In a smaller space, a compact humidifier can still perform well even if it’s off to the side, but always keep it at least a foot away from walls.

Ample Air Flow To Disperse Humidity

All humidifiers require ample airflow to distribute the mist properly into the room.

Restricted airflow could cause uneven distribution of moisture and create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

I promise you — you don’t want to pull your curtains open and find patches of mold behind them.

Keep humidifier away from curtains

It’s best to keep a humidifier away from windows, vents, and doors since drafts from these openings can negatively affect moisture dispersion.

An intake vent could even suck up all the mist your humidifier emits and move it elsewhere, making your device completely pointless.

Your humidifier may also have an intake vent for its fan. If so, you have to make sure nothing obstructs that vent to ensure proper airflow.

Don’t put humidifiers on carpets or other soft surfaces that could block the intake vent.

Away From Objects Susceptible To Water Damage

You should always place your humidifier as far away from other objects as possible to prevent water damage.

I recommend keeping it one foot from other objects and three feet from any furniture.

Every humidifier is designed to be waterproof, but spillage or leaks can always happen.

The best location for a humidifier is somewhere where it can do its job alone.

In particular, you should avoid putting humidifiers near any water-sensitive objects, like electronic devices, carpets, or books.

Even a small leak could cause significant water damage to these valuable possessions.

Finally, always keep a warm mist humidifier at least three feet from other objects and common areas people walk through.

Their high temperature can cause damage to nearby objects, so keep them well away from people, pets, and furnishing.

Having scalded my hand on a warm mist humidifier’s spout once, I’ve learned to keep a safe distance from them.

Occupant’s Safety Is Paramount

Always put a humidifier in a place where it can’t harm the people who stay in the room.

This is particularly important if you have small children.

Important Note

In general, never put warm mist humidifier in children's room. If you absolutely must, keep far away from children's' reach. 

I probably don’t have to tell you that kids are curious, and the steaming hot machine will catch their attention.

Prevent heat-related booboos by using only cool mist humidifiers in your kid’s room.

Take into account pets and people with allergies or limited movement capabilities, as well. Put a humidifier in a place where your dog or frail grandparent is unlikely to accidentally knock it over.

TL;DR: Placement of humidifier largely depends upon the size and layout of your room and the type of your humidifier. As a rule of thumb, take extra caution when placing warm mist humidifiers.


Where Should You NOT Put A Humidifier: Places To Avoid

Knowing where to put your humidifier is important. But it can be even more vital to know where not to put it.

The right humidifier in the wrong place will only make the air quality worse and cause moisture, mold, or other damage.

I always avoid these areas when putting a humidifier in its place:

Near Electronic Appliances

Water and electricity don’t mix. Keep your humidifier at least one foot away from TVs, computers, stereos, and microwaves.

Too much water in the air or water leaks can ruin your electronics and cost you a lot of money.

Close To Window Or Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight warms your humidifier, turning its water reservoir into prime real estate from bacteria and fungi that can harm your lungs and home.

On a very hot day, sunlight could even overheat a warm mist humidifier, causing a fire hazard.

If your humidifier has a built-in humidistat, being near a window could result in inaccurate readings as relative humidity levels near windows are closer to those found outdoors. My best advice is to not place a humidifier near windows.

Close To Electrical Outlets

Although the humidifier needs to be plugged into an outlet in order to work, don’t keep the humidifier close to the electrical sockets.

Any leaks could quickly turn into electric hazards. If your humidifier has a short cord, consider using a grounded, indoor-safe extension cord.

On Carpet Or Wood

If water starts leaking from the humidifier on carpeting or wooden furniture, it can quickly ruin the surface.

Using a humidifier on carpeted floors also increases the chance of mold growth if the carpet happens to get soaked.

I’ve had to deal with wet carpets and it’s a pain, so do your best to avoid it.

Avoid Corners

Corners might seem like a good place to keep a humidifier out of your way, but they are one of the worst places for these devices.

Corners have minimal airflow and can prevent the even distribution of mist or water vapor.

The moisturized air can also dampen the walls and create a paradise for mold and other fungi.

TL;DR: In general, avoid placing humidifier near objects susceptible to water damage or in areas that can get wet and become breeding grounds for mold and fungi. 


How Close Can A Humidifier Be To Your Bed?

A humidifier should not be used within 3 feet of a bed.

Many people invest in a humidifier to help improve sleep after suffering from issues like sinus problems, coughs, and colds, so it’s often assumed that the closer to the bed, the better. That is a misconception. 

Putting the device too close to a bed can cause damage to the bedding and the bed frame.

Additionally, the humidifier won’t be able to perform to its fullest potential with a large bed restricting airflow.

For those reasons, it’s best to put the humidifier at least 3 feet from the bed. If you’re using an ultrasonic humidifier, the ideal placement is also 2 feet off the floor.

TL;DR: If you have cool mist humidifier, keep at least 3 ft. away and 2 ft. above floor. If you have a warm mist humidifier, keep it farther away at an even higher location.


Common Mistakes When Using Humidifiers

There are right and wrong ways to use a humidifier (especially in terms of placement).

Unfortunately, I see a lot of homeowners make the same common mistakes with their units over and over.

Here are some common mistakes I’ve seen every new humidifier owner make:

Allowing The Humidity Level To Rise Too High

Humidity Level for humans
Graph showing optimum humidity range for humans falls between 30%-50%. Source: Ashrae.org (1)

When the humidity in the home gets too high, you risk mold growth, furniture damage, and even worsening symptoms of allergies or asthma.

If you’re prone to allergies from mold, mildew, or dust mites, it’s imperative that humidity levels stay between 30-50%. (2)

Letting Water Sit In The Unit

Letting water sit in the humidifier’s tank for too long can cause bacteria to grow inside the machine.

That bacteria will then be released back into the air, which is obviously not good for your health.

Using Tap Water In A Humidifier

It’s best to use demineralized, purified, or distilled water to fill a humidifier’s tank.

Tap water contains many minerals that can create white dust as the water evaporates in the air. The dust will cover your furniture with an unsightly white layer and eventually promote bacteria growth.

Excessive mineral deposits inside the machine will also make it work poorly and eventually break it.

Not Cleaning The Humidifier Regularly

You must clean your humidifier regularly. Failing to clean your unit can cause mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow.

Every unit has a different process for cleaning, so check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how.

Use white vinegar or diluted hydrogen peroxide to remove mineral buildup if your humidifier can withstand the solutions.

Ignoring The Humidity Level At Home

Many homeowners are completely oblivious to their homes’ humidity levels.

Neglecting indoor moisture levels can lead to mold growth, allergies, and it can even trigger respiratory problems and asthma symptoms.

If you run a humidifier, consider buying a hygrometer to monitor your home’s humidity levels.

TL;DR: For using the humidifier properly, perform regular maintenance, use distilled water, avoid tap water, and avoid excess humidification.


FAQs

Should Humidifiers Be Placed On The Floor Or Table?

A humidifier should always be placed on a table instead of the floor. If the humidifier spills or leaks onto a floor, it can cause significant water damage, while dust and debris are also more likely to build up in the machine.

Should I Put My Humidifier Upstairs Or Downstairs In A 2-Story House?

In most cases, the humidity upstairs is higher than the humidity downstairs, so it may be best to keep the humidifier on the ground floor. Check the humidity levels both upstairs and downstairs before making your decision.

How Close Does My Humidifier Need To Be To My Plants?

The humidifier should be placed about 4 to 6 feet away from plants so they have enough space to breathe but can also absorb the humidifier’s moisture output. Using the best humidifiers for plants is a great way to keep indoor plants happy and healthy.

Is It Good To Sleep With A Humidifier?

Yes, there are a lot of benefits to sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom. It’s especially useful for alleviating flu or cold symptoms at night and cool mist humidifiers can help keep your bedroom cool and comfortable.

Now You Know About Humidifier Placement

I can’t over-emphasize how important correct placement is for humidifiers.

Misplacing the unit even by a foot one way or the other can make a big difference in its efficiency.

Fortunately, once you know what to consider, finding the best location for a humidifier isn’t that difficult.

Just follow my guidelines in this guide, and you can put your humidifier where it can do the best job to maintain healthy moisture levels — no matter where you live.

References: 

  1. https://www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/covid-19/si_s16_ch22humidifiers.pdf
  2. https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-course-chapter-2
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Ile Kauppila

MA Multimedia Journalism / BA English Philology

Ile Kauppila
Ile Kauppila is a globetrotting writer and editor living in Virginia. Ile holds an MA degree in Multimedia Journalism and a BA in English Philology. Ile has written for a variety of home, HVAC, and energy-related websites and publications. He has covered HVAC solutions, insulation, and energy-efficient construction, automotive AC systems for multiple auto dealerships and garages.

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