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A humidifier adds moisture to indoor air to prevent it from becoming uncomfortably dry, which often happens when your HVAC system has to quickly warm or cool the air in your home. Not only can dry air shrink wood framing and leather, but it also can exacerbate respiratory problems.
To determine the best humidifiers for different rooms and conditions, we purchased 27 humidifiers from various brands and tested them in The Lab, simulating real-world situations by running each in different-size rooms for 15 minutes. We timed each product’s unboxing and setup process, and evaluated mist output and direction control, cleaning and filter replacement needs, and even how much noise it made. We also consulted with Dr. Ken Spaeth, Medical Director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, for his expert opinions.
Backed by our testing and Dr. Spaeth's insight, the Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier was the clear winner because of its compact, modern design, intuitive touchscreen features, and easy-to-clean tank.
Here are the best humidifiers, backed by our testing and research.
Best Overall: Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier
Can't open aromatherapy tray in-use
The Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier is our top pick because it's reasonably priced, quiet, features a sleek, modern design, and has several smart features such as Alexa voice control. A 30-second set up process consisted of pulling the humidifier out of the box (no extra assembly required); our tester had everything running in just a few minutes. Our tester also preferred the modern, minimalistic design, transparent gray tank (as opposed to bright blue), and its small footprint, making for easy storage in a closet or placement on a nightstand. You can connect the humidifier to a voice-controlled device and turn off the screen display for night mode, change the tank light, and control the humidity level displayed on the humidifier screen. However, the cord is short, so set it relatively close to an outlet.
The misting strength level was initially robust, but our tester reported it didn’t strengthen significantly from its lowest setting. You can easily adjust the mist nozzle to direct the airflow. During the 15 minutes, our tester ran this humidifier continuously. She noted that even a faint hum or whirring fan was detected.
You can add an aroma pad if you want the aromatherapy benefits of a diffuser. However, our tester could not do so while the machine was running. Cleaning the large, six-liter tank—which provides up to 60 hours of operation—is a simple process that involves opening the whole top and using mild soap and the included cleaning brush. The humidifier left no residue on its surroundings during testing.
Best Budget: Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier
24-hour run time
Difficult to clean
After retesting, the compact Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier remains in our Best Budget slot because it effectively humidifies a small- to medium-size bedroom or living room, with a compact, simple design, at a fair price. The 2.5-liter (.6-gallon) tank fills from the bottom, seals with a cap before easily flipping over for reattaching, and is easy to carry. However, our tester noted that its small opening makes it difficult to clean and recommends using a long-handled cleaning brush, which is not included.
This humidifier produces mist almost immediately; a separate attachment allows you to change the mist’s direction. An indicator light turns red when the tank needs refilling. Our tester noticed a visible increase in mist between low and high settings. Although the Magictec doesn’t include all the high-tech features of other humidifier models, it is hard to beat its quality performance at a reasonable price.
Best Splurge: Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde - PH04
Tank has a handle and rolls for easy filling
Separate remote control
Voice control available
Difficult to store
Just like Dyson’s vacuums and hair dryers, the brand’s humidifiers also include industry firsts and thoughtful designs. The Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde may be larger and more expensive than the other humidifiers we tested, but the app-compatible, customizable features make it a standout choice. It took the longest of our tested humidifiers to set up—almost six minutes—but fits under most faucets and wheels back into place easily. The tank’s large opening makes for easy cleaning between uses.
The Dyson does everything by a magnetized remote, which sits on top of the machine when not in use, and a smartphone app compatible with Alexa or Siri. The included HEPA+Carbon Filter cycles out 99.97 percent of airborne particles 0.3 microns or larger, and a permanent catalytic filter decomposes formaldehyde and dust particles. You also can change the direction of airflow, set night mode, and a sleep timer.
Best Design: Honeywell Designer Series Cool Mist Humidifier HUL430
Hidden water tank
Easy to use
Unpleasant initial smell
Our tester concluded that several quality features on this heavy-duty yet compact and unobtrusive Honeywell Designer Series Mist Humidifier justify its comparably high price. Though it lacks smart features and an LED display, its adjustable dial and cylindrical setup give it a luxurious appearance that blends into your home while effectively adding moisture into the air. Our tester appreciated its out-of-the-box usability and that it emitted visible vapor as soon as it was switched on.
The machine made a faint bubbling noise while it ran and initially emitted an unpleasant smell, which dissipated over time. You can adjust the level of mist with a noticeable difference between each level, but not its direction. The convenient auto-shutoff feature activates once the tank runs out of water, giving it about a 24-hour run time on the low setting. A separate tray accommodates essential oils, but our tester found it a bit difficult to open.
Best Mister: Levoit LV600HH 6-Liter Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Split mist nozzle
Cannot be placed on floor
No fill line
Warm- and cool-mist settings on this quiet-running humidifier, as well as multidirectional nozzles, make it our pick for the Best Mister category. Three levels of mist output and two adjustable nozzles allow you to separate the airflow or concentrate it in your preferred direction. Our tester noted that the 1.5-gallon tank has to be filled from the bottom, but it isn’t difficult to carry or place on the base. However, the tank lacks a fill line or a suggested amount of water to avoid overfilling.
Although the manual says to allow up to 15 minutes for the warm mist to reach its temperature setting, our tester noted she could feel warmth after only a few minutes. She also appreciated the multifaceted remote, which makes it easy to adjust all the settings from the comfort of your bed or up to 20 feet away. The owner’s manual also advised not placing this humidifier on the floor, so it takes up a large portion of a nightstand or a dresser. Despite its larger footprint, this model is still our top pick for the best mister category because of its adjustable temperature settings, 50-hour run time, and remote-controlled settings.
Best Portable: GENIANI Portable Small Cool Mist Humidifiers 250ML
Fits in cup holder
8-hour run time
If you find that your skin dries out during work hours or even on a long drive, check out the GENIANI Portable Small Cool Mist Humidifier. It fits in a car cup holder or easily tucks away on a corner of your office desk to quietly add moisture to a small area without taking up much space. This humidifier uses a short USB plug, so it has to connect to a computer or car USB port. While the water tank only holds 250 milliliters, this humidifier can run for up to eight hours on two different mist settings (continuously or intermittent 10-second bursts).
Our tester appreciated the intermittent operation feature but noted that the button to toggle between this and constant mode was slightly confusing. The water tank also has an optional night light feature. And despite its small size, the tank’s large opening makes it easy to clean, with no special brush required.
Best for Small Rooms: Vicks Mini Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifier
20-hour run time
No humidity monitor included
No fill line
The compact Vicks Mini Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifier is designed to use with the brand’s VapoPads, which, though non-medicated, are particularly soothing during cold and allergy season. From its position on a shelf, bedside table, or dresser, it delivers cool mist for up to 20 hours. The design is simple, with a single-turn dial indicating the level of mist output. The dial has a light that can’t be turned off, so this may not be a great option for people who prefer to sleep in a dark room.
Our tester noted that the dishwasher-safe tank has a groove for easy carrying, but there is no fill-line label, which makes it difficult to know if you’re using too much water. It’s also important to keep in mind that this humidifier whirs when in use. But despite its downsides, its price and simple settings make it a great option for any small bedroom or even an office.
Best for Large Rooms: Lasko LA10008 UH300 Warm and Cool Humidifier
Split mist nozzle
Can run for 100 hours on low
Blue light turns off
Requires distilled water
Difficult to clean
The Lasko LA10008 UH300 Warm and Cool Humidifier can humidify up to 600 square feet, making it a great option for larger rooms. A dual nozzle allows you to aim the mist in any direction, and three flow options make it easy to choose your preferred output. There are also warm- and cool-mist settings, plus a night-light setting. However, our tester noted that the buttons for the night light and display settings were confusing to understand and use.
Although this diffuser has a large tank with an included cleaning brush, it is difficult to clean by hand, so be sure to use the included brush for the recessed corners of the tank. The owner’s manual also suggests using distilled water because tap water can lessen the product’s lifespan. Despite these minor usage issues, this humidifier is still our choice for large rooms because of its versatility as a floor or shelf model, its dual nozzle design, and mist settings, with a run time of up to 100 hours with cold, low mist.
Best for Bedrooms: LEVOIT 1.8L Cool Mist Humidifier
Water tank includes a lid
20-hour run time
No automatic shutoff
The LEVOIT 1.8L Cool Mist Humidifier makes sleeping comfortably an easy routine with its adjustable night mode to turn off all machine lights and a whisper-quiet mister with three levels. Our tester noted the lightweight and simple design and how easy it is to fill the water tank with a top-fill lid. The mist discharges as soon as you plug it in, and our tester saw a noticeable difference between mist levels. She cautioned that the surrounding surface was damp after 15 minutes of use but allowed that it might have been spillage from the water tank.
Although the humidifier has an adjustable night mode that senses the room humidity, it has no automatic shutoff or timer option. The wide, cylindrical water tank is easy to empty and clean between uses.
Best for Easy Cleaning: Boneco H300 Hybrid Humidifier and Air Purifier
Real-time humidity measurement
Noise increases at higher levels
You can place most parts of the Boneco Hybrid Humidifier and Air Purifier in the dishwasher, earning it our title of Best for Easy Cleaning. While this humidifier costs more than most other models we tested, it’s still worth the splurge for its 3-in-1 function as an air purifier, humidifier, or both. This medium-size model can sit on the floor or on a large dresser or table, and it includes two filters for better air quality.
It’s important to note that our tester noticed no visible mist emission, though she could feel cool air coming out of the machine. Six airflow options allow customization, but the machine becomes louder as you cycle through the higher settings. The sleep-mode function turns off the lighted display and quiets the fan.
Our top pick, the Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier, is a compact humidifier that covers a wide square footage with multiple smart settings and silent operation. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly model, check out the Magictec Cool Mist Humidifier, which covers small to medium spaces for up to 24 hours.
How We Tested the Humidifiers
To find the best options for your space, we purchased and tested 27 of the top humidifiers on the market in The Lab, and we assessed them on their setup, effectiveness, design, size, ease of cleaning, and overall value. We simulated real-world situations by testing the humidifiers within different size rooms and running them each for 15 minutes with each tester. Testers also assessed them based on noise production, ease of use, and overall aesthetic for different areas of a home. We then combined our tester’s firsthand insight with our writers’ and editors’ independent research to offer you a comprehensive roundup.
What to Look for in a Humidifier
Humans are most comfortable when indoor humidity levels range from 40 to 50 percent. "Below 40 percent air is considered dry, which can cause eyes, throats, [and] sinuses to dry out," says our expert, Dr. Ken Spaeth, Medical Director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York. "Greater than 50 percent relative humidity can promote mold growth."
The size of the humidifier you choose should largely be based on the size of the room in which you’re looking to add moisture. Basically, there are three sizes of humidifiers: portable (also called tabletop), console, and whole house.
Portable humidifiers are small and have limited water tanks, meaning you need to refill them more often. They’re also relatively inexpensive and can be easily moved from room to room. Often, we see tabletop humidifiers on a nightstand or desk. The smallest portable humidifiers are personal or travel-size 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 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 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. Because this type of humidifier connects to your home’s plumbing, you also don’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 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 under a kitchen or bathroom faucet, and how heavy it is when you carry it back full. If that’s not practical, you may have to bring the water to the humidifier with a pitcher or jug.
Because moist, humid conditions can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and pathogens, some humidifiers are equipped with UV light. The specialized light filtration system eliminates microbes that may grow in the humidifier's tank and prevents them from being released into the air with the mist.
For an optimal level of humidity, look for a model with a built-in humidistat. This feature monitors the room’s humidity and shuts 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.
Because most humidifiers are considered small home appliances, warranty coverage generally is limited. Many models include one-year limited warranties that cover defects in manufacturing. Some more advanced models, including some ultrasonic humidifiers, increase the warranty period to three years.
Warranties for professionally installed whole-house humidifiers vary considerably when compared with portable models. Some models offer five-year warranties. Be sure to examine the manufacturer’s warranty on a whole-house model to ensure that your investment is covered if a problem arises down the road.
What does a humidifier do?
Humidifiers are appliances that add moisture to the air by producing and releasing mist or steam. They help maintain a set humidity level in your home and prevent the air from getting too dry. There are warm- and cool-air humidifiers (some are capable of both), but how your humidifier operates depends on the type. However, all humidifiers take in air from their surroundings and add moisture to it. Typically, a fan disperses the air into the room to increase the humidity level.
What are the benefits of a humidifier?
Often, humidifiers are used to soothe issues caused by dry air, which include nosebleeds, dry skin, and a dry throat, among other symptoms. People in especially dry or cold climates might find humidifiers particularly helpful. If you deal with specific respiratory problems, such as asthma, you should ask your doctor before purchasing a humidifier, as higher humidity levels can make asthma worse.
How do you clean a humidifier?
In addition to draining and drying a humidifier’s reservoir before refilling each time, regularly clean the water tank 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 go in the dishwasher. But different types of humidifiers have special requirements, so it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Often, using distilled water is recommended. And filters need to be replaced every few months, or as suggested by the manufacturer.
Can you put essential oils in a humidifier?
In short, no. Essentials can clog and erode cool mist humidifiers which will cause them to malfunction and stop working. You also shouldn't use them in steam vaporizers because the heat could change the chemical makeup of essential oils, which could counteract their scent and potential health benefits.
Does a humidifier help a cough?
Yes, humidifiers can help ease coughs. According to MedlinePlus, an online medical encyclopedia produced by the National Library of Medicine, humidifiers can help break up mucus, so you can cough it up. They also recommend using cool-mist humidifiers since warm mist humidifiers can cause burns if you're too close.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Emma Phelps is an Updates Writer for The Spruce, specializing in home improvement, decor, and lifestyle. For this roundup, she researched the difference in humidifier styles and air filters. She then used the test results to compile this list before checking the price range, footprint, and user reviews of each product when writing their descriptions. She also consulted with a physician who is an expert specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. To read more of Emma’s work, go to southernliving.com.