Can you put Vicks in humidifier?

Vicks as a company has been providing cold sufferers with congestion relief since the early 20th century, using a unique blend of essential oils. 

Humidifiers have been discovered in recent years how have many health benefits, and now people are beginning to ask – can I combine the power of my humidifier and the health benefits of Vicks? Read on to find out.

In the article below, we’re going to definitively breakdown why you would want to do this, the dangers surrounding putting VapoRub in your humidifier, and some safer alternative that will give you the results you’re looking for.

We’ve also included some tips on humidifier upkeep at the end of this piece. 

What is Vicks VapoRub?

As a company Vicks has been producing cough suppressing treatments since 1938. In the early 70s, they developed a topic rub-on treatment made up of menthol, petroleum jelly, eucalyptus, and other medicinal ingredients that have come to be known as VapoRub.

 The product was designed to gently clear sinuses, and provide relief from coughing symptoms, that can be particularly painful in young children. 

As the access to, and research into the benefits of humidifiers grew people began to ask – can I combine the benefits of my humidifier and my trust VapoRub to get both their benefits?  

This seems like a smart idea, right, but is it safe? 

Why would I want to put VapoRub in my humidifier?

What are the benefits of using a humidifier? 

Throughout the year humidifiers can provide you with a whole range of health benefits, without you having to do anything but turn them on and clean them. They are particularly beneficial for those suffering from dry skin, heavy nose bleeds, and anxiety. They can also provide relief for those suffering from congested sinuses. 

What are the benefits of using Vicks VapoRub?

The Vicks VapoRub formula contains three powerful congestion fighting, active ingredients: menthol, eucalyptus, and Camphor. There are versions available that also come with lavender (to aid sleep), or lemon (for extra soothing power). The three key active ingredients are powerful cough suppressants that help to clear congested sinuses, that have been used by Vicks since 1938. 

Eucalyptus oil benefits –  taken from the leaf of the Eucalyptus tree in Australia (the favorite of the Koala bear), Eucalyptus oil is known to 

  • Be a powerful disinfectant 
  • Improve joint pain when applied topically
  • Improve bad breath 
  • Aid the control of blood sugar levels 
  • Soothe irritated throats, prevent coughing and clear sinuses 

Menthol oil benefits – menthol oil is derived from the peppermint leaf and it is claimed that 

  • It  can improve digestion, and settle upset stomachs, some even claim it can treat IBS symptoms 
  • It can improve and prevent bad breath 
  • It can improve brain function and has even been used as an aromatic treatment for anxiety
  • It can improve sinus congestion, and it’s signature hit-cold tingling sensation can improve flu-related aches and pains 

Camphor benefits – the oil is secreted from the bark of the Camphor tree and is known to

  • Be able to speed up the healing of burns 
  • Provide relief from high levels of pain 
  • Be antifungal, it is often used to treat fungal nail infection and in natural household cleaning products
  • To soothe itching and irritated skin with its trademark numbing sensation 
  • Improve congestion and relieve sufferers of coughing symptoms  

What would be the benefit of using a humidifier to deliver a Vicks product?

There are a few benefits to using a humidifier and a Vicks product when you’re struggling with congested sinuses. Using Vicks in a humidifier will allow you to reap the benefits of the product all night without re-application as most humidifiers have 6-8 hour cycles. 

There is some evidence to suggest that directly ingesting ingredients like eucalyptus, using a humidifier can be more beneficial than using rub-on products, as the warm, moist air can help clear the sinuses allowing the ingredients to penetrate deeper into your respiratory system. 

Ingesting these ingredients may allow you to benefit from more than just cold and sinus related issues, see the list above for more information.

Does Vicks recommend using their products in a humidifier?

Vicks do recommend using SOME of their products in a humidifier, but no all of them – we go into more detail about which products below. Vicks have even released their own range of humidifiers. This range includes cool and warm mist devices that come in multiple sizes.    

So, can I put my Vicks VapoRub in my humidifier?

The short answer is no, but perhaps not for the reasons you would expect. 

There are two main reasons why you shouldn’t put VapoRub into any type of humidifier.

The first reason is that one of VapoRub’s key ingredients can be toxic when ingested. As well as containing those soothing Menthol and Eucalyptus oils, VapoRub also contains Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly to you and me). 

When ingested Petrolatum can cause serious inflammation in the respiratory system. When you’re already suffering from Sinus Congestion, extra irritation is the last thing you need. 

The second reason to avoid putting VapoRub into your humidifier is that at both hot and cold temperatures it can damage your machine. Due to the large percentage of Petrolatum in it, in a cold mist humidifier, the VapoRub won’t melt enough to defuse. There have been reports of lumps of VapoRob clogging cold mist devices.

 On the other end, using VapoRub in a heated humidifier can also be very dangerous. Due to its high oil and Petrolatum levels, VapoRub is extremely flammable. Even before the addition of flammable liquids, some hot mist humidifiers can be fire risks, the addition of VaroRub does nothing to help this. 

 The company discourages users from using this product in a diffuser, also stating, “when using this product, do not heat, microwave, add to hot water or any container where heating water.”

So you want the benefits of VapoRub in your humidifier, but you understand how dangerous it is, what can you do? 

Is there a product that will give me the benefits of VapoRub that is safe for me to use in a humidifier?

We’re very happy to say that the answer to this question is yes! In fact, we’ve found more than one option for you. 

When Vicks launched their range of humidifiers they also launched two new products that are safe to use with them: VapoSteam drops, and VapoPads. 

Both of these products contain the three key active ingredients of the VapoRub (menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor) but do not contain any petrolatum. 

The two products do similar things, but both have their own unique benefits. 


VapoPads are small sheets soaked in the key active ingredients of VapoRub that sit in the water trough in our humidifier to provide up to 8 hours of symptom relief. They are designed to fit into Vicks brand humidifiers but the company claims that they will work with most devices on the market. 

The VapoPads come in two scents; Menthol and essential oils, and Rosemary and Lavender. Each box comes with 7 single-use pads.  

One of the cons of the VapoPads is that they are single-use, and not recyclable. If you are looking for a product that will give you the same benefits but it a bit more friendly to the planet – check out Vicks’ VapoSteam.  


The VapoSteam drops are more inline with a traditional essential oils mix, the base of the product is alcohol, rather than petroleum jelly, so it is safe to use in both cool and warm mist devices. 

It also contains nutmeg and cedar leaf oil to help alleviate your symptoms. 

Nutmeg is known for

  • It’s antibacterial properties 
  • It’s anti-inflammatory properties 
  • It’s mood-boosting properties 

Cedar Leaf oil is known for 

  •  Being antibacterial
  • Being antifungal 
  • Being anti-inflammatory

The bottle the product comes in is widely recyclable, unlike the single-use VapoPads. 

You will also get a lot of use out of your bottle of VapoSteam as 1 teaspoon is needed per pint of water, and the bottle provides nearly 40 teaspoons (8 fl oz).  

Vicks say that both the VapoPads and the VapoSteam have been designed with parents in mind, and both are therefore safe for small children to use (a parent will be required to set up the humidifier and treatment).

Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your humidifier: 

TOP TIP – experts recommend that when setting up a diffuser for young children you should use filtered or distilled water, particularly if your humidifier doesn’t come with a built-in filter. 

TOP TIP – if you are using your humidifier every day, experts recommend that you clean it 1-2 times a week. This will help to avoid a build of bacteria in your machine, that can spread around your house unless dealt with.