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If you’re tired of the dry air in your home causing dry skin, cracked lips, and even respiratory irritation, it might be time to buy a humidifier. These affordable gadgets add moisture to the air in your home, helping to make it more comfortable, especially during the winter months.
However, humidifiers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and there are several types of humidifiers to choose from, as well. For instance, ultrasonic humidifiers use vibration to create water droplets that are then pushed into the air via a fan, while evaporators blow air through a moistened filter to increase humidity. Additionally, you’ll need to consider the size of the room where you plan to use your humidifier, as there are models designed for small, medium, and large spaces, as well as whole homes.
Here, the best humidifiers for any space.
Easy to use
Stream tube cap isn't very secure
Users must refill often
In terms of performance, versatility, and value, one of the best humidifiers available today is the LEVOIT Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier. This modern unit includes a variety of useful settings—including both cool and warm mist options—and it can be used in spaces up to 750 square feet. The LEVOIT Humidifier has a maximum output of 500 milliliters per hour, and it can run for up to 36 continuous hours thanks to its 6-liter water tank.
This humidifier comes with a convenient remote control that allows you to adjust its settings, put it on an automatic timer, or even turn off the display at night. The tank has a wide opening that makes it easy to clean, and the unit even includes an essential oil diffuser that will give your home a refreshing aroma. Reviewers love that this LEVOIT Humidifier includes a remote, and many even go as far as to call this unit the best humidifier they’ve ever used.
"In our 12 x 12-foot bedroom, the effect was immediately noticeable, especially when we ran it on Auto through the night."—Justin Park, Product Tester
Bottom easily detaches, which can cause spills
One common concern about humidifiers is that they can breed bacteria if not kept clean, but the Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier can help to alleviate some of those fears thanks to its built-in ultraviolet light technology, which kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in the water. This cool-mist humidifier has a 1-gallon tank that can run for up to 24 hours on low, and it also features a wicking filter that captures minerals in the water. The humidifier offers three speeds, and the water tank has a wide opening that’s easy to fill and clean.
"If you choose to put it in your bedroom, note that the humidifier’s built-in fan makes a low buzzing noise. We found this soothing, rather than distracting, when trying to fall asleep."—Claudia Fisher, Product Tester
Separate diffuser tray
If you’re shopping for a humidifier to place in your bedroom, chances are you want it to operate quietly so it won’t disturb your sleep. The LEVOIT Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier operates at less than 30 decibels—roughly the noise level of whispering—and has an auto-dimming display, making it a worthwhile purchase for your bedroom. This unit has three mist settings and a 360-degree nozzle that lets you angle its output in any direction, and its 40-liter water tank allows for up to 40 hours of continuous operation on its low setting. There’s even a tray for essential oils if you want the soothing scent of lavender to lull you to sleep.
Separate diffuser tray
Needs to be refilled once a day
No nightlight timer
Looking to add humidity to your child’s nursery? The iTvanila C-Pro Mist Humidifier operates at a whisper-quiet 26 decibels, making it the perfect choice to run in the room with a sleeping baby. This humidifier has a 2.5-liter water tank that can last up to 30 hours, and it’s best for spaces up to 300 square feet.
The unit features a 360-degree nozzle that delivers evenly distributed mist all around the room, and the wide water tank opening makes the unit easy to refill. Many reviewers say they use this unit in a nursery or even their own bedrooms, noting that it’s extremely quiet and helps their children sleep more soundly.
Once you get used to having a humidifier running in your home, you may find that you want to bring one with you wherever you go. In that case, you’ll want to invest in a product like the Fancii Cool Mist Personal Humidifier, which has a portable form that’s ideal for travel.
This unique personal humidifier can be powered by a USB cable or AA batteries, and it’s compact enough to carry in a purse or suitcase. To operate, the unit screws onto any standard size water bottle, using it as a water tank. It has a timer function that allows you to select two, four, or six hours of operation, and the unit has an ultra-quiet sound level of just 15 decibels, so you can place it beside your bed without any disruption.
Large water tank
Light can be a bit bright
The AIRCARE Aurora Ultrasonic Humidifier is designed for rooms up to 750 square feet, so it’s perfect for an open-concept kitchen and living space or other large room. This tabletop humidifier has a 1-gallon water tank, and its daily output maxes out at 2 gallons. The unit comes with a demineralization cartridge, which is useful if your home has hard water, and it even has a color-changing LED light and aroma diffuser tray for essential oils. Reviewers say this AIRCARE Ultrasonic Humidifier is extremely quiet and powerful for such a small unit—in fact, several note that it uses water much faster than anticipated.
Covers large area
Most humidifiers are only designed for use in a single room, but the AIRCARE 5-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier is a whole-home unit that can cover up to 4,000 square feet. This powerful model has a three-speed motor for a maximum output of more than 12 gallons per day, and it features two easy-fill water tanks with a refill hose. The AIRCARE Humidifier has a digital display where you can adjust the humidistat and see when it needs more water or a new filter, and reviewers say it runs quietly and puts a lot of moisture back into the air.
Warm and cool mist settings
Steeper price point
Warm mist humidifiers can help to reduce bacteria and germs, and many people also find them soothing when they have a cold or other respiratory symptoms. If you’re looking for a humidifier that can deliver warm mist, the Elechomes Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier is a sleek, modern option that’s highly rated among buyers. It offers both warm and cool mist settings, and it can be used in spaces up to 755 square feet thanks to its 600 milliliters per hour output.
This unit gives you precise control of your home’s humidity levels, anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent, and it operates at a super-quiet 20-decibel level. The Elechomes Humidifier can run for up to 40 hours on its 5.5-liter water tank, and it includes a remote control and essential oil tray for additional functionality.
Separate diffuser tray
High price point
The majority of humidifiers have a very utilitarian appearance, but not this one! The Objecto H7 Hybrid Humidifier is surprisingly stylish thanks to its sleek white form, which stands 30 inches tall and can hold up to 2.6 liters of water. The sculpture-inspired gadget is ideal for rooms up to 650 square feet, and it can run for up to 22 hours per fill. It even offers an anti-microbial tank and aroma tray for essential oils. Stylish and functional—it doesn’t get better than that!
Easy to clean
Remote or app required to run
Rather than investing in a few different products that clean your air, cool you down, and humidify your space, why not just pick one? This Dyson pick does it all, and lets you pick which settings to run when, so you don't have to cool down your space when you need a little extra humidity in the winter or worry about making your space even more humid in the middle of the summer.
This humidifier comes with lots of upgraded features, like sleep mode, schedule setting, and an auto mode that maintains certain conditions without any effort from you. There's even regular air quality checks delivered to the app on your phone, with breakdowns of the kinds of pollutants in your air, which is helpful if you're an allergy sufferer.
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.
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.