The 10 Best Humidifiers
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in March of 2015. With winter comes cold and flu season, bringing nagging coughs that keep you and your kids up at night. You can alleviate that suffering, stop your skin from flaking and cracking during the drier months, and help to reduce allergens in the air with one of these humidifiers, which we have ranked based on price, durability, attractiveness, effectiveness, and ease of maintenance. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 21, 2020:
Today the well-rounded Honeywell HCM350W comes on board, as it’s a good choice when it comes to quiet and efficient operation, user-friendly controls, ease of filling, and a tank that’s conveniently safe for the dishwasher. It can cover an area of up to 400 square feet, making it a good choice for placement in a living room or a bedroom -- and it won’t disturb your sleep, since it doesn’t produce any loud beeping sounds or bright lights. To make room for this model, we say goodbye to the TaoTronics TT-AH025, a small humidifier suitable for bedrooms that’s highly similar to the sleek and compact TaoTronics TT-AH026. The newly added Honeywell model joins the larger Honeywell HEV685W on the list, which holds up to three gallons between its two 6-liter tanks. It’s easy to refill, thanks to its handy top-loading design, and incorporates an adjustable humidistat and three speed settings.
For a reliable whole house humidifier, look to the Aprilaire 500, which connects directly to your furnace for efficient coverage of your entire home. It hooks up to a water line, so you won’t need to ever bother refilling it, and it can put out up to 12 gallons per day. Another option that can handle an entire house is the Levoit LV600HH, which offers both cool and warm mist settings and a timer that can be set from one to 12 hours. It’s got a built-in essential oil diffuser and can conveniently be controlled from the couch or your desk with the included remote. For a choice that’s designed to both moisturize and purify the air in your home, check out the Venta LW45 Airwasher, which can cover spaces of up to 800 square feet and is made to remove dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. While some other selections require more frequent cleaning, this one only needs to be cleaned every 10 to 14 days.
November 04, 2019:
In most homes and offices, it is inevitable that a humidifier will be in plain sight at all times. Because of this, we focused on form just as mush as effectiveness when identifying the best models to recommend. That being said, there were times we leaned more heavily one way or another. For example, the Honeywell HEV685W may not be the most attractive model, but if you want a portable option that can cover a lot of square footage without needing to be constantly refilled, it is a great choice. Likewise, the TaoTronics TT-AH026 may not have a high capacity and is best suited to small rooms, but its narrow shape; elegant, curving form, and simple controls will still make it a good option for many users.
During this update, we removed a lot of models that didn't meet our stringent criteria. Some examples include the HomeLabs Personal, which many users felt was too loud, and the Oxa Whisper-Quiet, for having a tendency to leave pools of water on the floor around the machine.
One of the new additions to our list is the Elechomes UC5501. It offers a large output capacity that makes it well-suited to common areas of a home, and it features a big LED display that is easy to see from across the room. We also added the TTLife Ultrasonic 5.5L, which has some convenient features, such as the flip-up handle on the reservoir that makes it easy to carry when full and the built-in aroma box for adding essential oils. It also boasts both warm and cool mist settings, as does the Levoit LV600HH.
Homedics Total Comfort UHE-WB01 If you travel often and find the air in hotel rooms to be too dry, this portable humidifier can help. It uses standard 20-ounce water and soda bottles as its reservoir to produce a fine must for up to nine hours continuously, which is just the right amount of time for a relaxing full night's sleep. homedics.com
Lennox Healthy Climate HCWP3-18 A powerful, whole house option, the Healthy Climate HCWP3-18 attaches to your air handler or furnace and distributes moisture directly through your duct system. Because it has its own built-in fan, it even works when your AC or heater isn't running, and it is available with manual or automatic controls. lennoxpros.com
How Do These Contraptions Work?
They're pretty elementary: they force moisture into dry air by diffusing a fine mist of water droplets, which then incorporate themselves into the dry air in a room.
Let's state the obvious, humidifiers make rooms more humid. In other words, they add moisture in the form of water vapor to dry air, making desert-like rooms and apartments actually livable. Not only that, but humidifiers reduce the movement of bacteria and viruses to help keep your sinuses comfortable all year long.
If you live in desert areas, perhaps you don't understand what humidity is. If you find yourself in a swamp, or in your bathroom after a shower, or outside right after a big rain storm, the heavy moisture in the air is known as humidity. It's surprising how much of a difference a little bit of moisture in the air can make. What differences will you be able to notice? Better sleep for starters, and even better looking houseplants, as they too can suffer from dry air.
The science behind these machines is not at all proportionate to how much of a difference they make to a living environment. They're pretty elementary: they force moisture into dry air by diffusing a fine mist of water droplets, which then incorporate themselves into the dry air in a room.
Low humidity is common in the winter. This is the culprit behind your itchy nose, and chapped lips. Air usually contains a certain amount of water vapor, between 30 and 50 percent, but cold air can hold less moisture than warm air, so it often needs a little bit of help. Low humidity in a room can cause dry, scaly skin, and can even make the air feel colder than it is. Plus, dry air can affect wood floors and plaster, causing them to contract and potentially crack. Maintaining the proper humidity in a living space is essential to maintaining a comfortable living space.
Keep in mind that too much humidity can prove just as challenging as not enough. Some humidifiers feature a hygrometer, or humidistat that will clearly indicate how much moisture the is in the air in the given living space where the device resides. Not all of them offer this helping tool, but there are a few ways to check if your humidifier is over-doing it, so to say. Look for condensation around windows; sometimes wet stains will appear on walls and ceilings too; if you have allergies and realize your symptoms are flaring up while using your humidifier, chances are the air is too moist. Ideally, interior air humidity should clock in between 40% and 50%.
The Manageable Dangers of Humidifier Use
Yes, humidifiers can keep us healthy in many ways, by soothing dry skin, scratchy throats, and even helping to shorten the duration of a cold. But they are not turn-on-and-forget devices. Health organizations such as the Mayo Clinic remind consumers that humidifiers do require regular maintenance. Fortunately, cleaning and caring for humidifiers is easy, and can be done at home.
These guys thrive in moisture, so it's important to keep them in check.
How does one determine if their humidifier needs cleaning? Not all humidifiers react this way, but the biggest tell sign is when the bottom of the water container produces a pink or orange colored residue. This has little to do with water quality, and more to do with naturally airborne bacteria. If you've noticed this pink residue around your toilet or in your shower, you're not alone. This bacteria is called Serratia marcesens, and is found in food, animals, and even dirt. These guys thrive in moisture, so it's important to keep them in check.
This bacteria, and ignoring a dirty humidifier can foster mold and make your breathing worse; the complete opposite of what they should be achieving. This is especially important if you're an allergen sufferer. Cleaning the water container with hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, or bleach, will kill the bacteria and leave your humidifier looking new, and fresh once again. We recommend a 50/50 solution, letting is soak for twenty minutes, and then rinsing it clean.
How often should you expect to clean your humidifier? That depends on the size of the unit, and how frequently it is used. Obviously, the more it is used, the more it will need maintenance.
Narrowing Down The Humidifier's Backstory
Pinpointing an inventor of the first humidifier is like trying to find the iceberg that sunk Titanic. Most people give credit and thanks to Otis Hoffman in 1893. We wouldn't be surprised if its first appearance was unveiled at the World's Fair in the same year, but this is not written in history as far as we can tell.
What we can corroborate is the time of said invention, the late 19th Century. And the first patent that can be found on this topic was filed on March 23, 1896, by Boston inventor Richard C. Ulbrich, who would go on to patent other humidifiers for at least five more years.
Pinpointing an inventor of the first humidifier is like trying to find the iceberg that sunk Titanic.
Interestingly enough, his patents were targeted towards mills and industrial buildings, and they were produced as an improvement to already existing, faulty humidifying systems. The fault was found in the system's water pipes, that would become "clogged to a considerable extent with sediment."
What was Ulbrich's fix? A system that would flush itself with water, reducing sediment build-up astronomically. As for humidifiers specifically designed for home use, most people believe the Ohio company DeVilbiss to be responsible. This was around the 1950s, and it was a vaporizer-humidifier.
DeVilbiss dates back to 1888, when Dr. Allen DeVilbiss created the first atomiser to minimize patient throat soreness. That being said, we're not surprised he was able to come up with an idea that would put vaporized moisture into the air, making breathing easier. Dr. DeVilbiss went on to develop products for sleep therapy, which the company continues to do today.