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Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
NanoSteamer 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer
NanoSteamer
3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

This facial steamer can help relieve sinus troubles and improve complexion via nano-ionic steam technology.

Pros

Produces nano steam which penetrates skin and mucus membranes more effectively. Can add humidity to a room, warm towels, and steam face and sinuses. Chamber holds enough water to steam for up to 30 minutes. Includes 5 handy skincare tools.

Cons

This unit is not compatible with essential oils.

Best Bang for the Buck
Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler V1200
Vicks
Personal Steam Inhaler V1200
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

An easy-to-use face steamer that can be used with Vicks VapoPads for menthol treatment.

Pros

Has a soft contoured face mask and delivers warm steam for 5 to 15 minutes. Features a control knob for steam level and a power indicator light. Has a refillable water tank. Can be used with or without VapoPads.

Cons

Does not offer battery power.

Mabis Personal Steam Inhaler
Mabis
Personal Steam Inhaler
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Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

Priced in the midrange, this portable personal steamer is ideal for quick, medication-free relief from respiratory issues.

Pros

Featuring a sleek design, the inhaler comes with patented, hospital-grade technology. Delivers warm steam without needing to boil water. Accepts essential oils. Works for therapeutic facial steam too.

Cons

The steam can get quite hot at times.

MyPurMist Free Cordless Ultrapure Steam Inhaler™
MyPurMist
Free Cordless Ultrapure Steam Inhaler™
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Expert Recommended
Bottom Line

A top-of-the-line model; though it doesn't accept oils, it has excellent features and functions.

Pros

A lightweight device that's easy to use and doesn't require boiling water. Has adjustable temperature settings and is reasonably quiet to operate. Attentive customer service.

Cons

You can't use essential oils in it, and it is slightly expensive.

PGG-bro Portable Nebulizer
PGG-bro
Portable Nebulizer
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

A compact nebulizer that users enjoy for its silent operation and pocket size.

Pros

Very simple-to-use machine with a compact design that's suitable for travel. Atomizes quickly and is a solid price for quality. Quiet and silent while in use. Ideal for breathing issues and nasal congestion.

Cons

Not rechargeable—must be actively plugged into a USB cable or powered by batteries. Reports of some that don't work.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

30
Models
Considered
173
Consumers
Consulted
10
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best steam inhalers

If you've ever knelt over a bowl of steaming hot water while suffering from a cold, you know that steam inhalation has its benefits. But what if we told you there is a simpler, less awkward way of inhaling steam?

With a steam inhaler, you get the benefits of hovering over a steaming bowl without all the hassle. Plus, the steam is targeted toward the places you need it, which makes it more effective.

You'll find all kinds of steam inhaler makes and models on the market, but not all are created equally. So, if you need a hand choosing the right steam inhaler, you're in the right place!

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Steam inhalers offer either medical or beauty-related benefits (or both), depending on which type you get.

Why buy a steam inhaler?

Here are some of the main reasons people buy steam inhalers for home use.

  • Some people use steam inhalers to clear and tighten their pores.

  • If you have a cold or the flu, a steam inhaler can relieve congestion by loosening up mucus.

  • Steam inhalation improves circulation, which some people find helpful for headaches and migraines.

  • When suffering from allergies, the mucus membranes in your nose and throat can become dry and uncomfortable. A steam inhaler can help you rehydrate.

  • Some users find steam inhalers aid in stress relief, especially when used with essential oils for aromatherapy, though there's no proven medical benefit here.

How do steam inhalers work?

The majority of steam inhalers work the same way.

Cold water is poured into a chamber, and the device is plugged into a power outlet. After a couple of minutes, the water heats to boiling (or near boiling) and produces steam. The steam is then inhaled through a mouthpiece.

Notably, there are a few steam inhalers on today’s market that turn water into vapor without boiling it first. This reduces your chance of an inadvertent steam burn.

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Expert Tip
Test the temperature of the steam before using the machine because hot steam can cause burns.
BestReviews Medical Expert

Considerations

To find the perfect steam inhaler for your needs, consider the following.

Function

Why do you want a steam inhaler? What will you be using it for? Think about the required function of your steam inhaler and choose appropriately.

  • If you want to use a steam inhaler to relieve congestion from colds and allergies, pick one that's designed specifically for this use.

  • If you want a steam inhaler for steaming your pores or other beauty-related treatments, look for one that can be used for this purpose.

Ease of use

Ideally, you don't want a steam inhaler that's tricky or complicated. After all, if it's an ordeal just to get it set up, you may be less likely to use it.

Pay particular attention to the length of the power cord. If the cord is short, you will either have to situate the unit close to a power outlet or use an extension cord.

Size

If you want to take your steam inhaler with you when traveling, or you don't want it to consume much space in your home, look for a compact model.

Steam inhalers aren't exactly tiny, but some models are smaller than others. If size is important to you, check the manufacturer's specifications before making your final decision.

Construction

Look for steam inhalers with solid construction, as these generally last longer. An inhaler with flimsy parts is more likely to break or sustain damage.

The majority of steam inhalers are made from plastic, which is solid and won't rust. But you do have to be careful about keeping your inhaler clean, as it may have ridges and tucked-away corners that are hard to reach.

The mask part of a steam inhaler may be made from latex, so if you're allergic to latex, be sure to buy a latex-free model.

Expert tip
Keep your steam clean and dry when not in use. Water is a great source for bacteria and mold to grow.
BestReviews Medical Expert

Aromatherapy capability

If you want to be able to add essential oils to your steam, be sure to choose a model with aromatherapy capability.

Some steam inhalers can't be used with essential oils but still have options for spicing up your steam. For example, some inhalers come with special "scent packs" that help create fragrant steam.

Steam generation

Steam is often released from an inhaler via a mouthpiece. In many models, the amount of steam released is adjustable. You can choose between thick, dense steam or a gentle flow, depending on your preferences and requirements.

The amount of time the steam lasts on one "tank" of water varies by model. During the course of our research, we found models that lasted anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.

Price

If you want a fairly basic steam inhaler for occasional use that produces steam by boiling water, you’ll need to shell out around $30 to get a good model.

However, if you're going to be using your steam inhaler a lot, we recommend a more sophisticated model that converts cool or lukewarm water straight into vapor. This type of steam inhaler retails from $150 to $200.

Tips

  • Consider getting a face mask for each member of the family, especially during cold and flu season when the risk of transmission is high.
  • Drain the steam inhaler between each use, no matter the device. Water should not be left in the reservoir for more than two days.
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Don't let children use the type of steam inhaler that uses boiling water, as there is a slight risk of scalding. Only steam inhalers that create vapor from cool water are safe for children to use.

FAQ

Q. Are steam inhalers safe to use?

A. Steam inhalers are safe to use on the whole, but there is one major concern. If you use the type of steam inhaler that generates steam by boiling water, there is a slight risk of burning or scalding. The steam itself is very hot, and some models occasionally spit out a small amount of boiling water. As such, we wouldn't recommend that kids use these types of steam inhalers.

Expert tip
If you suspect a respiratory infection, use a steam inhaler to support other forms of treatment. You should not only use a steam inhaler.
BestReviews Medical Expert

Q. Will a steam inhaler help with my congestion?

A. Yes. Many people use steam inhalers to break up congestion, whether it's from a virus — like a cold or the flu — or from a chronic respiratory condition like asthma. That said, some users find the results to be more dramatic than others, so your mileage may vary.

Q. Can I use tap water in my steam inhaler?

A. Most steam inhalers can take regular tap water, as they boil the water to turn it into steam. The act of boiling removes most, if not all, harmful germs and bacteria. However, some models require distilled water, so you should always check before use.

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