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Which steam inhalers are best?

Saunas have been known to be great for relieving stress, relaxing the muscles and helping with congestion. But not everyone has access to a sauna or steam room, so steam inhalers may be the next best or better option for congestion relief. Steam inhalers can also be useful when you want some quick relief from small sinus problems. If you’re looking for a safe and efficient steam inhaler, the Vicks Personal Sinus Steam Inhaler is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy a steam inhaler


Take into consideration the size of the steam inhaler, as some models can be large and take up a lot of space on a countertop or in your lap if you hold it. Fortunately, most steam inhalers tend to be compact, so you shouldn’t have to sacrifice too much space to find an area to place it. 

Steam generation

While many steam inhalers offer adjustable steam release, it’s best to know that some models can release hot steam when set at the highest level. The heat may not be suitable for everyone depending on the model. Most steam inhalers have a mask or mouthpiece that helps prevent you from being harmed from the steam, but there can be moments where the steam can be too hot for comfort. These inhalers can have a steam output that lasts from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how high the steam settings are. 

Mask material

There are masks or mouthpieces in some steam inhalers that use latex. If you have a latex allergy or simply would prefer no latex, many models carry a latex-free mask. The masks on these inhalers tend to be non-adjustable, so if you have larger or smaller facial features than average, keep in mind that the mask may be too big or small. 

What to look for in a quality steam inhaler

Aromatherapy capability

Many steam inhalers are capable of being used with essential oil simply by dropping your oil of choice in the tank. Other models may require you to use a type of essential oil pad to insert into the machine. If you want to add fragrance for an extra kick to your steam inhalation treatments, look for models that are compatible with essential oils.  


Having a wireless steam inhaler allows you to carry the inhaler on the go and gives you the mobility to move around the house with the device. Some wireless inhalers use non-rechargeable batteries, while rechargeable models tend to be more expensive. If the manufacturer allows it for their model, you can replace the non-rechargeable batteries with a rechargeable battery pack. 


The process of turning water into steam in a device can be noisy. That’s why it can be beneficial to choose a steam inhaler that has a reduced or no-noise feature. This allows you to use the device at peace and not wake up anybody in your home if you’re using it at night. 

How much you can expect to spend on a steam inhaler

A steam inhaler that provides basic functions will cost at least $30. However, if you want a high-end inhaler that will be able to withstand constant use and can convert cool or lukewarm water into vapor, it’ll cost $150-$200. 

Steam inhaler FAQ

Are steam inhalers safe to use?

A. Steam inhalers are safe to use, but you should use caution if the inhaler generates steam by boiling water, as there’s the risk of burning or scalding yourself. Some models that use the boiling method may occasionally spit out small amounts of boiling water, so those inhalers wouldn’t be recommended for children. 

Will a steam inhaler help with my congestion?

A. Steam inhalers can help with congestion depending on your respiratory condition at the time of use. If it’s minor congestion, then the steam inhalers may clear your sinuses right up. But if it’s a more serious congestion that’s caused by a serious sickness such as pneumonia, a steam inhaler may not be enough. 

Can I use tap water in my steam inhaler?

A. Tap water is safe to use in most steam inhalers, as those inhalers use boiling to create steam, which removes harmful toxins in the process. However, be sure to check if your steam inhaler requires the use of distilled water. 

What’s the best steam inhaler to buy?

Top steam inhaler

Vicks Personal Sinus Steam Inhaler

Vicks Personal Sinus Steam Inhaler

What you need to know: One of the most prominent steam inhalers in the market, this Vicks inhaler can provide quick fast relief within 15 minutes. 

What you’ll love: The steam inhaler comes with Vicks’ menthol pads, which can help provide extra help for nasal congestion. It comes with a 1-year warranty in case anything happens to it. 

What you should consider: The machine has to stay plugged in, which offers minimal mobility with this device. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top steam inhaler for the money

Mabis Personal Steam Inhaler

Mabis Personal Steam Inhaler

What you need to know: With adjustable steam control, this steam inhaler operates efficiently while staying quiet. 

What you’ll love: Mabis equips this device with hospital-grade technology while having the ability to handle therapeutic facial steams. You can use essential oils to add to the steam.  

What you should consider: The steam can get very hot for some. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Crane Warm Steam and Cool Mist Personal Inhaler

Crane Warm Steam and Cool Mist Personal Inhaler

What you need to know: This lightweight and the portable steam inhaler is perfect for kids, as it’s easy to hold. 

What you’ll love: There are two latex-free masks included so they can be used interchangeably. The steam inhaler can be used with compatible vapor pads for additional congestion relief. 

What you should consider: The steam output may be a little weaker compared to its competitors. 

Where to buy: Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond

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Ade Hennis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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