01 of 10
Best Overall: Honeywell HCM-350 Germ-Free Cool Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Bottom easily detaches, which can cause spills
The Honeywell HCM-350 Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier is a quiet, easy-to-use humidifier that's designed for larger rooms (500 to 800 square feet). It's an evaporative humidifier, meaning it won’t leave a thin film of white dust around the room if it’s used with hard water, and the unit's ultraviolet light aims to kill any mold, fungus, or bacteria. The standout feature, though, is how easy it is to clean. In addition to the fact that "the water tank has a fairly wide opening, so fitting your hand inside is no problem," our tester said, "The water tank and water tray are also both dishwasher safe (as long as you place them on the top rack), so this makes any concerns about getting into tight corners obsolete." Our reviewer also found it to be "very sturdy," but reported that she spilled water when trying to move it because the bottom detached.
02 of 10
Best for Bedrooms: Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Convenient night light
AC power adaptor detaches
Leaked a little
Difficult to clean
Reviewers say the best-selling Pure Enrichment Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is a great bedroom pick for a number of reasons: It’s quiet, compact, easy to use, and effective. The 0.4-gallon tank is small, but you shouldn't have to refill it more than once a day if it’s used only while sleeping. One of our testers liked that it’s “not an eyesore, like some competitors, and can be placed easily on a small table or shelf.” Another plus is the fact that the AC power adaptor detaches from the unit completely, which makes it easier to refill and clean. It also has an automatic shutoff and a nozzle that can be rotated 360 degrees, letting users direct moisture where it’s most needed—although our tester said it was a little difficult to turn.
03 of 10
Best for Large Spaces: Essick MA1201What We Like
What We Don't Like
Covers large area
Easy to use
Doesn't require frequent cleaning
Replacing filters can get expensive
With a 3.6-gallon tank capable of a 12-gallon daily output and a coverage area of up to 3,600 square feet, the Essick Air Aircare MA1201 is a powerful option for the entire house. Users love the digital humidistat, which can be set to maintain the humidity level in your home automatically. They also say the side-mounted water tank is easy to remove, fill, and clean. On the other hand, our tester pointed out that the cost of replacing filters can add up. He also felt that its design was unattractive. Overall, though, he thought the unit was a good value because it was effective: "The large fan and large wick combine to crank out moisture to the point where we saw condensation on the glass of our windows on a cold night," he said.
04 of 10
Best Budget: TaoTronics Ultrasonic Cool Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Variety of mist settings
Built-in water filter
Leaks a little when refilling
The TaoTronics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier checks all the boxes in terms of function without a high price tag. Our tester called it "whisper quiet." Other notable features, according to our reviewer, include a dual nozzle to target the mist in different directions, a built-in water purifier, and a power dial to adjust the mist strength. Once the water tank is low, the machine auto-detects to shut off. Our tester said the 3.5-liter water tank will last you up to 10 hours, too. In terms of negatives, our reviewer cautioned that cleaning all the nooks and crannies is difficult. Overall? "For an effective humidifier with customizable settings, TaoTronics’ roughly $30 price tag is hard to beat," she concluded.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Best Splurge: LEVOIT Humidifier, 5.5L Warm and Cool MistWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Easy to use
Stream tube cap isn't very secure
Users must refill often
With cold and warm mist options, the ability to diffuse essential oils or medicated liquid vaporizers, and a night light function, this LEVOIT humidifier truly has it all. Plus, its 5.5-liter capacity gives you 36 hours of run time. A special sensor controls the amount of mist released in order to keep your room feeling just right, and a handy remote gives you even more ease of use. Our tester loved its compact form factor, its near-silent operation, and its overall performance. Even though he noted that it requires frequent refilling, he said that overall, if you value design in your appliances, the LEVOIT was hard to beat: "The predominantly white color palette with silver accents, as well as the glass-clear hard plastic surrounding a modern digital display is so similar, you could mistake it for a new iMac," he said.
06 of 10
Best Warm Mist: Vicks Warm Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Great for combatting colds
Can use with liquid inhalants
Doesn't need filters
Needs to be cleaned frequently
The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is a great pick for winter, and particularly cold and flu season: Its tank uses a boiling chamber to emit a steam vapor and produce a 95 percent bacteria-free mist into the air for up to 12 hours. It can cover most large rooms around 500 square feet, however, it does have a smaller tank capacity (1 gallon) than others on this list. An accompanying medicinal cup, which you can fill with Vicks VapoSteam or another liquid inhalant, adds extra support to your steam to help with minor coughs and colds. Some customers report mold or mildew as a side effect of the hot steam, so it's recommended you clean the humidifier frequently.
07 of 10
Best for Baby: Crane USA HumidifiersWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
No filter required
Choosing a humidifier for a nursery can be a tough task because you want something that is effective, easy to clean, and also functions at a very low decibel—and this one from Crane delivers. Reviewers especially like the sleek, compact design and the 360-degree adjustable lid. The drop humidifier provides you with a 1-gallon, filter-free construction that is supposed to run for up to 24-hours, although, several reviewers note they find the running time is much less. While most say it's quiet (perfect for babies and kids), a few note that it can make an unpleasant sound when the water gets too low and the auto-off activates.
08 of 10
Best With Diffuser: URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser Cool Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Two effective mist settings
Also functions as a night light
Sensor light can be distracting
Difficult to get lid off
If you're looking for an inexpensive, 2-in-1 humidifier—one that also functions as an oil diffuser—the URPOWER Essential is a customer favorite. Simply add in a few drops of the essential oil (not included) of your choice to disperse the scent throughout the room. Reviewers like that the aroma is noticeable, but not overpowering. This diffuser also has two adjustable mist settings and seven different LED color-changing lights so you can add even more ambiance to your space. A few customers didn't like that the sensor light couldn't be turned off, but most enjoyed the option for the night light. Customers did report that the lid could be difficult to get off, but overall, said this small device is extremely effective and a great value.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Best Design: TaoTronics Cool Mist HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Auto shut-off prevents overfilling
Can run up to 60 hours without refilling
Night light doesn't turn off
Can't adjust mist temperature
Design is important to consider when choosing for a humidifier, for it not only determines its visual appeal but also how well certain functions perform. TaoTronics' cool-mist humidifier matches a sleek appearance with remarkable functionality, with an extra-large water tank that provides up to 60 hours of continuous mist. Its patented design reduces noise to a quiet 26db, while its 360-degree swivel nozzle allows for even mist distribution for rooms up to 430 square feet.
Reviewers praise this pick for love how quiet it is, with a tank capacity that allows it to last all night long. Do note, however, that it comes equipped with a night light that can't be turned off—a feature that might be an issue for more sensitive sleepers.
10 of 10
Best Portable: Crane Evaporative HumidifierWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Lightweight and portable
Three different speed settings
Won't effectively humidify larger rooms
Slightly steeper price point
Portable humidifiers are a convenient way to relieve the effects of dryness and congestion in a small, confined area. This tabletop model, which holds up to a gallon of water, makes for a great companion when you’re at the office, a hotel, or any other particularly dry environment.
This pick runs for up to 24 hours with little to no noise, and effectively humidifies rooms up to 250 square feet. Once the tank runs out, it will shut off automatically—ensuring that no energy is wasted. Three different speed settings allow you to customize the water output to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for a quiet, affordable, and easy-to-use humidifier, look no further than the Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier. Unlike other models, the water tank and water tray are both top-rack dishwasher safe which makes cleaning a breeze. However, if you want a humidifier that’s specifically designed for the bedroom, opt for Pure Enrichment’s Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, which has a smaller size and convenient night light.
What does a humidifier do?
Humidifiers are appliances that add moisture to the air by producing and releasing mist or steam. They help you maintain a set humidity level in your home and prevent it from getting dry. There are both warm and cool air humidifiers (some are capable of both), but how your humidifier operates will depend on the type. However, all humidifiers take in air from their surroundings and add moisture to it. A fan typically disperses the air into the room to increase the humidity level.
What are the benefits of a humidifier?
Humidifiers are often used to soothe issues caused by dry air, which include itchy skin, chapped lips, and even nose bleeds, as well as respiratory symptoms from a cold or allergies. People in especially dry or cold climates often find humidifiers to be a helpful remedy that can help them breathe, sleep, and feel better overall. If you’re dealing with specific respiratory problems, you should ask your doctor for a recommendation on a type of humidifier.
How do you clean a humidifier?
In addition to draining and drying a humidifier’s reservoir before refilling each time, the water tank should also be cleaned regularly to ensure that harmful bacteria and microbes don’t grow. It's usually recommended that you clean and descale your humidifier with vinegar and sanitize with bleach or a specially formulated humidifier cleaning agent. Some humidifiers can actually go in the dishwasher, but different types of humidifiers have special requirements, so it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Using distilled water is often recommended. And models with a filter will need to get replacements every few months or as suggested by the manufacturer.
The Ultimate Humidifier Buying Guide
If your home or office is feeling dry and stuffy, you’re in need of a humidifier. These small appliances add moisture to air that has become dry from central heating or dry environmental conditions. Humidifiers are also a powerful ally when you’re fighting congestion from a common cold or allergy. You’ll breathe better and feel better with a humidifier to keep moisture in the air.
The type of humidifier you choose will have a bearing on how it operates, but all humidifiers take in dry air from their surroundings. Once moisture is added, a fan typically disperses the air into the room to increase the humidity level.
Humidifiers vary in size, with compact models designed for smaller spaces and larger units that can humidify up to 1,000 square feet or more. There are different types of humidifiers, depending on the way that the unit adds moisture to the air. When shopping, compare the features and benefits of warm mist versus cool mist humidifiers, along with whole-house humidifiers. Depending on the type, size, and features you choose, humidifiers cost anywhere from less than $25 to $500 or more.
For an optimal level of humidity in the air, look for a model with a built-in humidistat. This feature will monitor the room’s humidity and shut off the appliance when the air's moisture level hits a set target. While this isn’t an essential feature, it does take some of the guesswork out of operating a humidifier. It can also prevent excess moisture in the air from fogging up windows or creating a musty odor in the room. If you skip a built-in humidistat, you can still monitor the humidity level in your home using a hygrometer, a small and inexpensive tool.
The size of the humidifier you choose will largely be based on the size of the room you’re looking to add moisture to. There are basically three sizes of humidifiers on the market: Portable (also called Tabletop), Console, and Whole House.
Portable humidifiers are small and have limited water tanks, meaning you’ll need to refill them more often. They’re also less expensive and can be easily moved from room to room. You’ll often see tabletop humidifiers on a nightstand or desk. The smallest portable humidifiers are personal or travel-sized models. With similar dimensions to a water bottle, these humidifiers can be taken anywhere.
Console humidifiers are larger units that sit on the floor and have increased-capacity water tanks that will require less frequent filling than portable humidifiers. Console humidifiers are the best choice for spaces up to 1,000 square feet (depending on the model).
Whole-house humidifiers attach to your home’s ductwork and can add humidity throughout your home. They’re best for adding moisture on a large scale and can handle spaces greater than 1,000 square feet. Since this type of humidifier connects to your home’s plumbing, you also won’t need to refill the tank.
Water Tank Capacity
Closely related to the size of the humidifier you choose is the water tank capacity. Look at the estimated run time from the manufacturer to see how often you’ll need to refill the tank. If you want to use the humidifier all day or all night—or both—make sure you pick a model with a large enough capacity.
Other considerations are whether the tank is removable to easily fill with a kitchen or bathroom faucet and how heavy it will be when you carry it back. If that’s not practical, you may have to bring the water to the humidifier with a pitcher or jug.
Many humidifiers on the market are equipped with an auto-shutoff feature. This is important if you plan to leave your humidifier on for extended periods of time, since it will switch off the unit if it runs out of water. An auto-shutoff can prevent the device from burning out too.
Since moist, humid conditions can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and pathogens, some humidifiers are equipped with a UV light. The specialized light filtration system eliminates microbes that may be growing in the humidifier's tank and prevents them from being released into the air with the mist.
If you have hard water, strongly consider a humidifier with a demineralization cartridge. This additional filter will collect the minerals naturally present in hard water and prevent them from being released into the air as a fine white dust that can become a nuisance and a respiratory irritant.
For allergy sufferers, a humidifier with a pre-filter to clean incoming air may be a smart idea. These air filters are fine enough to trap pollen, dust mites, dander, and other small particles that might otherwise pass into the humidifier and be released again into the air.
Check out our roundup of the must-have appliances for allergy sufferers.
As its name implies, a warm mist humidifier releases moisture into the air in the form of warm mist. To do so, this type of humidifier heats water to its boiling point, then releases the steam into the air. The moisture-filled vapor raises the humidity level in the room. These humidifiers are generally very quiet since the steam comes out of the unit without the aid of a fan.
Since standing water is an ideal environment for bacterial growth, the benefit of this type of humidifier is that the boiling water kills many microbes that might otherwise be released in the mist. However, the drawback is that a warm mist humidifier uses more energy than some other types of humidifiers, since the heating element used to boil water draws electricity.
It should be noted that warm mist humidifiers are generally not recommended for use around children. The boiling water, along with the steam the unit emits, can pose a burn risk if a child gets too close or knocks it over.
There are two primary types of cool mist humidifiers on the market: evaporative and impeller. Each one varies in the way it operates, but they both release a room-temperature mist that humidifies your space. Since the mist is room temperature but full of moisture, it can initially feel damp or cool.
This type of cool mist humidifier relies on a filter (sometimes referred to as a wick) that picks up water from a reservoir below. A fan blows air across the filter, where it picks up moisture through evaporation, and then the mist is propelled out of the humidifier.
You’ll need to periodically clean the filter, since it can host bacteria and minerals from the water may build up on its surface. In addition to regularly cleaning the filter and tank, plan to replace the filter periodically. While evaporative humidifiers don’t have the higher energy costs of warm mist humidifiers, they do have the recurring cost of filter replacement. They’re also a bit noisier than warm mist humidifiers, due to the operation of the fan.
An impeller humidifier is equipped with a rapidly spinning disc that sends water to a diffuser, where it’s transformed into tiny droplets capable of being transferred as mist into the surrounding room.
The advantage to this type of cool mist humidifier is the fact that it has no filter—one less part to clean and nothing to replace. But it’s often recommended that you use distilled water in this type of humidifier.
Of all humidifiers, an ultrasonic is the quietest option. While many models are cool mist humidifiers, there are some that let you opt for either a cool mist or warm mist mode. Cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers are one of the most popular types of humidifiers on the market.
These humidifiers use ultrasonic frequency from a vibrating disc to vaporize water molecules that are then released as a mist into the air. Some larger models include a fan that helps to propel the mist farther.
Since ultrasonic sound waves can’t be heard by the human ear, you will only notice the effect via increased humidity in the air—without hearing the white noise (except for any sound produced by fan-assisted models). For light sleepers, office workers, and anyone else who appreciates silent appliances, this is a major plus.
Additionally, ultrasonic humidifiers have no filters to change or replace, making them a low maintenance option. Of course, regular cleaning of the water tank is still recommended to prevent a buildup of mold or bacteria.
For large-scale moisture regulation, a whole-house humidifier is an option. This type of humidifier needs to be professionally installed since it will be connected to your home’s ductwork and water supply.
There are three primary types of whole-house humidifiers: flow-through, reservoir, or steam. You’ll want to discuss the advantages of each type with an HVAC professional to determine which one is suitable for your home. Keep in mind that typically only steam humidifiers can operate independently of the furnace, meaning you’ll be limited to seasonal use if you opt for a flow-through or reservoir whole-house humidifier.
While this is a much more expensive option, the benefit of a whole-house humidifier versus a portable humidifier is the fact that you can deliver moistened air to all areas of your house at once. Additionally, whole-house humidifiers typically have very low maintenance requirements in comparison to portable humidifiers and don’t require frequent refills of the water tank.
Honeywell is known for their home heating and cooling devices, so it’s no surprise that they make a well-rounded selection of humidifiers. In fact, Honeywell even offers whole-house humidifiers in addition to more than a dozen portable humidifier models. Most of the models are cool mist humidifiers, with some warm mist options available as well.
Famous for their congestion-relief products, Vicks makes a number of different humidifiers designed to work in tandem with their medicated vapor pads. While there’s no reason you couldn’t use a Vicks humidifier on a regular basis, these models may be especially useful during cold and flu season.
Levoit focuses on improving the comfort of your home’s air supply with a small but capable selection of humidifiers. There are both cool mist and combination models to choose from, but the real attraction here is the larger water tanks and longer running times of Levoit humidifiers—up to 40 hours of runtime for some models, and over 750 square feet of coverage for others.
A leading manufacturer of small home appliances, HoMedics offers primarily ultrasonic humidifiers. The brand’s product line-up includes models of many different sizes and aesthetics, and they’re widely available at major retailers.
With distinctive water droplet-shaped humidifiers, Crane makes devices that are eye-catching yet functional. The company manufacturers their humidifiers in a rainbow of colors, and even offers cute animal shapes to appeal to kids. Many of their models are ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers, but some models that produce warm mist are available.
Keeping your humidifier clean is a crucial aspect of humidifier maintenance. All humidifiers will need to have the water tank regularly cleaned to ensure that harmful bacteria and microbes don’t take up permanent residence.
By design, humidifiers create ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria thanks to the warm, moist environment. If you leave a full water tank in a humidifier that isn’t running, bacteria can quickly multiply. When the humidifier is active, any microbes inhabiting the water tank can be dispersed into the room along with the humidifier’s mist.
To avoid this spread of bacteria, it’s advisable to drain and dry your humidifier’s reservoir before refilling. At least once a week, you should clean and descale your humidifier with vinegar and sanitize with bleach or a specially formulated humidifier cleaning agent.
Note that different types of humidifiers utilize different cleaning products—some are additives that can be added to the water in the reservoir while others should only be used to sterilize an empty reservoir. Know which type of humidifier you have and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and cleaning.
Since most humidifiers are considered small home appliances, warranty coverage is generally limited. Many models include one-year limited warranties that cover defects in manufacturing or workmanship. Some more advanced models, including some ultrasonic humidifiers, increase the warranty period to three years.
Warranties for professionally installed whole-house humidifiers will vary considerably when compared to portable models. Some models offer five years of warranty coverage. Be sure to examine the manufacturer’s warranty on a whole house model carefully to ensure that your investment is covered if a problem arises down the road.