The 10 Best Humidifiers
Since the initial publication of this wiki in March of 2015, we've made 25 edits to this page. With winter comes cold and flu season, bringing nagging coughs that keep your kids up at night. You can ease their 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, ease of use and ease of maintenance. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best humidifier on Amazon.
How Do These Contraptions Work?
It's surprising how much of a difference a little bit of moisture in the air can make.
Keep in mind that too much humidity can prove just as challenging as not enough.
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.
That depends on the size of the unit, and how frequently it is used.
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.
As for humidifiers specifically designed for home use, most people believe the Ohio company DeVilbiss to be responsible.
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.
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