Breathe Easier With One of These 10 Best Humidifiers

Paige Szmodis
·14-min read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Popular Mechanics

When temperatures drop, the cool and dry air can wreak havoc on your sinuses and skin. But you don’t have to suffer through chapped lips, nosebleeds, or cracked hands. If the air in your home is persistently dry from running the heat or air conditioning—or you just want to combat the occasional cold—a great humidifier can do wonders to improve your air quality and health.

Check out quick info below on the five top-rated humidifiers, then scroll deeper for buying advice and full reviews of these models plus other high-ranking options.


Why You Should Consider a Portable Humidifier

Unlike whole-home humidifiers installed by HVAC contractors, these units are easy-to-use and affordable, but still powerful devices for cutting down on dry air. Using a humidifier in your living room or bedroom while you sleep can prevent dry sinuses and chapped hands and lips, as well as decrease static electricity.

Though winter may be the main culprit when it comes to stealing moisture from the air (which can also dry out wood furniture, floors, paint, and wallpaper), air conditioner use in summer can exacerbate it, too. Running a humidifier year-round could help if your house’s humidity levels are below the ideal range of 30 to 60 percent. Don’t already know the level in your home? You can test it with an $11 hygrometer.

Finally, though there are many benefits to getting a humidifier, consider if you can actually commit to the care and maintenance. Dirty humidifiers will only pose more health risks, since the water can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, which it will then pump into the air. Most of these machines require at least weekly cleaning and daily refills, though some of the best models have design features that make this upkeep easier.

What Type of Humidifier Should You Buy?

Whether you prefer warm or cool mist or want an evaporative or ultrasonic machine, each kind of humidifier has advantages and disadvantages to consider.

How We Selected and Rated Them

We researched nine expert sources and 75,000 consumer reviews to select the top 10 humidifiers. To determine our Total Expert Score, we reference ratings from trusted publications such as The Spruce, Gear Lab, and Gear We Are, and convert them to a 100-point scale to make it easier for you to weigh the best options. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart.

—HIGHLY RATED—

Honeywell HCM-350

Total Expert Score: 92/100 | Consumer Score: 82% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 24 hours | Settings: 3 mist levels | Dimensions: 17 x 9 x 12 in. | Weight: 8 lb.

After testing the Honeywell HCM-350 for several months, we believe it’s the best for most people’s homes. As a self-regulating evaporative humidifier, it won’t over-humidify a room because it releases an invisible water vapor—rather than a light mist—so there’s no risk of water puddling on the floor or nearby furniture. In our testing, after running the Honeywell in a 250-square-foot living room for about 18 hours on its medium fan setting, the humidity rose from 25 up to 40 percent. The one-gallon tank can also run for a full 24 hours on low. Despite its power output, this Honeywell is quiet and doesn’t beep when switching between the three fan speed settings, making it ideal for a quiet bedroom.

The HCM-350 also boasts plenty of other features that it make it user-friendly and simple to maintain. Its tank handle makes it easy to lift and carry, and it can sit upright in the sink while refilling. The wide opening allows for easy cleaning, and some parts are even dishwasher safe. And the unit’s “Germ-Free” label doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need regular cleaning and filter replacing—it does—rather that the antimicrobial filter removes germs and bacteria from the water before releasing into your home’s air. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to replace its filters about once a month depending on use. Though it lacks some features like auto-scheduling and remote operation that others may have, we were overall impressed by this humidifier’s powerful performance and simple design—it even earned a spot in our 2020 Home Awards.

—FOR LARGE ROOMS—

Levoit LV600HH

Total Expert Score: 86/100 | Consumer Score: 85% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1.5 gallons | Run time: Up to 36 hours | Settings: 3 mist levels, warm, auto mode, timer | Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 10 in. | Weight: 5 lb.

Most humidifiers don’t offer a ton of versatility beyond high and low settings, but the Levoit LV600HH delivers all of the customization you’ll need. It has both warm and cool mist settings, an auto mode with an accurate humidity sensor, an aroma diffuser box, and an adjustable light, plus a remote control and timer so you can set a schedule. Most significantly, its six-liter reservoir provides the longest run time from 20 to 36 hours for rooms up to 750 square feet.

This Levoit does have the same drawbacks as other ultrasonic humidifiers, namely that it has to sit on a table or shelf to prevent the mist from puddling on the floor. One Amazon reviewer also noted that it has several nooks and crannies that make weekly cleaning to prevent mold more of a challenge. Despite these minor drawbacks and the expensive price, Tech Gear Lab gave this model an Editors’ Choice award, advising that “if you want something powerful that won’t have you returning to a damp house if you forget to turn it off, the LV600HH is the best choice.”

—BEST VALUE—

TaoTronics TT-AH001

Total Expert Score: 87/100 | Consumer Score: 93% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1.1 gallons | Run time: 12-30 hours | Settings: 3 mist settings | Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 12 in. | Weight: 4 lb.

It’s not the largest or most powerful humidifier, but this one from TaoTronics does provide the best value for bedrooms up to 320 square feet. The four-liter tank is big enough to run for 12 to 30 hours before needing a refill. Its built-in humidistat will inform you of the room’s humidity level, so you can set your desired level and the TT-AH001 will automatically shut off when water runs out. Like the Honeywell, it does have filters, but TaoTronics recommends changing them only every four to six months.

The main appeal of the TT-AH001 is its quiet operation that makes it fitting for a small bedroom or baby’s nursery. “This highly configurable humidifier disperses mist really well,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “Although it has a fan, it is still very quiet.” You can leave the nightlight one or use sleep mode to completely turn off its lights. It’s quite stylish for its price point, available in white, black, or grey models.

—VERSATILE DIFFUSER—

VicTsing 500ml Essential Oil Diffuser

Total Expert Score: 88.5/100 | Consumer Score: 89% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 500 ml | Run time: Up to 20 hours | Settings: 2 mist settings, 3 timer settings, 7 colors | Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 10 in. | Weight: 2 lb.

An essential oil diffuser usually won’t be powerful enough to disperse much moisture through large living spaces. That’s not the case with this one. And VicTsing gave this two-in-one cool-mist humidifier more style than most at an affordable price. With a 500-milliliter capacity, it can hold enough water for up to 20 hours of use and has one, three, and six-hour timer settings. Yes, it has low and high mist settings, though there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference in mist output between them. This diffuser also has controls for the seven LED light options, which you can set it to cycle through, select just one, or turn off altogether.

The exterior features an attractive matte wood design, but the device is actually made from a lightweight plastic, which lacks grip and handholds, which would be helpful when removing the lid to refill. Its lid sits on top without the need to screw or lock in, so it isn’t exactly spill-proof. But it comes off easily for quick refilling and cleaning. The water reservoir also isn’t removable from the base, but reviewers like that the device comes with a measuring cup for refilling. The white noise it emits is generally quiet enough for bedroom use at night, but customers appreciate that is has the capacity and mist output for larger living spaces throughout the day, too. If you’re struggling to decide between a smaller oil diffuser for aromatherapy or a more powerful dedicated humidifier, this VicTsing provides the best of both.

—QUIET—

Pure Enrichment MistAire

Total Expert Score: 73/100 | Consumer Score: 83% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 0.4 gallon | Run time: Up to 16 hours | Settings: 2 mist levels | Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 9 in. | Weight: 2 lb.

Digital Trends named this humidifier the best overall, writing that “with a 1.5-liter tank, it’s perfect for bedrooms, offices, and medium-sized rooms.” The MistAire can run for up to 16 hours on its low setting. The shape makes it easy to see when the water gets low, though it will automatically turn off when empty. It’s also a bit awkward to clean, but does come with a brush to help.

Users who put it in their bedroom enjoyed its quiet operation and using the blue glow as a nightlight. “Even though the function is excellent, I’m also impressed by how silent the machine is,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon. “We put it in our bedroom, and I have no problem falling asleep.”

More Options to Consider

Vicks V745

Consumer Score: 79% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 12 hours | Settings: 2 | Dimensions: 14 x 12 x 8 in. | Weight: 4.8 lb.

Warm-mist humidifiers are great options if you just want to combat the occasional cold, rather than run them all winter long. This one from Vicks is a popular, affordable option that includes a compartment for Vicks VapoPads, as well as a medicine cup for soothing inhalants like Vicks VapoSteam.

For regular use when you’re not fighting a cough, this humidifier has a one-gallon tank capacity that runs for up to 12 hours on two different output settings. While it may not have the longest run time, it’s a good option for when you want to run a humidifier just at night. It has a fairly wide tank opening to easy filling and cleaning. While the transparent tank shows when your water is getting low, it also features a light indicator to alert you to when it needs refilling. However, you should also keep in mind that warm-mist humidifiers, especially ones that use medicinal additives, may need to be cleaned even more frequently than cool-mist models.

Levoit Top-Fill Humidifier & Diffuser

Consumer Score: 85% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 0.5 gallon | Run time: 8 to 20 hours | Settings: 3 | Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 7 in. | Weight: 3 lb.

This two-in-one humidifier and diffuser packs in a lot of features. Still, Levoit kept it subtle and compact to blend into your home’s décor. Its sleek design isn’t too bulky, but its half-gallon capacity can still run for up to 20 hours on its lowest of three mist output settings. Its size isn’t its only subtlety—this humidifier also runs quiet at only 28 decibels on low, and it has an “Intelligent Sleep Mode” that automatically turns off all display lights and senses the humidity in your room at night to adjust its output accordingly. If you want to add some aromatherapy to your room, you can also safely add essential oils into its base. Refilling the water is fairly easy. While other larger humidifiers typically have a removable base to fill from the sink, this one just has a removable lid that allows you to pour directly into the top.

Dyson PH01 Humidify + Cool

Consumer Score: 85% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 36 hours | Settings: 10 speeds | Dimensions: 36 x 8 x 6 in. | Weight: 18 lb.

Instead of purchasing a humidifier, an air purifier, and a fan separately, you may want to consider Dyson’s three-in-one device. Featuring the brand’s futuristic design, it’s a machine you’ll actually want to display in your home—and you’ll get good use out of it, too. The base of this machine pulls in dirty air, and the one-gallon water tank adds some humidity to it before the top fan circulates cool, purified air throughout your home. Of course, while it can perform all three functions at once, it can also work just as a purifying humidifier or a purifying fan. It also has a Breeze mode, fan modes with 0, 45, and 95-degree oscillation, backwards air flow, night mode, and a sleep timer to automatically turn off after anywhere between 30 minutes and eight hours.

Though it may save you some space and money compared to purchasing each appliance separately, be aware that this top-of-the-line product also comes with an exceedingly high price tag. It’ll take over a pretty large portion of the corner in your living room, too. But you’re paying for even more premium features that you won’t get with other humidifiers, such as connectivity to the Dyson Link app to monitor air quality and operate the PH01 remotely, voice control through Alexa or Siri, and sensors for airborne particles, temperature, and humidity levels. Finally, this purifier not only captures particles in its HEPA and carbon filters, but also purifies the water you put in its base through a UV light cleansing technology to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in the water.

Honeywell Designer Series Cool-Mist Humidifier

Consumer Score: 80% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1.3 gallons | Run time: Up to 24 hours | Settings: Mist scroll wheel, bright/dim/off lights | Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 13 in. | Weight: 6 lb.

The best aspect of this Designer Series ultrasonic is its inconspicuous build, which won’t be an eyesore in your living spaces, that doesn’t come at the cost of quality. Like other ultrasonic models, it’s quiet enough to use in bedrooms, and you can adjust the tank light to off, dim, or bright settings to view the water level. The mist control button allows you to scroll to find the perfect output, and the tank has a fairly wide opening despite the cylindrical shape for convenient filling and cleaning. If you’re on the fence between getting a full-size humidifier or essential-oil diffuser, know that this model also has a tray for you to add your favorite essential oil fragrances. Many Amazon reviewers found it easy to maintain the 1.2-gallon tank, though some experienced issues with it leaking after months of use.

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Humidifier

Consumer Score: 82% give it 4 stars or more

Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 24 hours | Settings: 10 | Dimensions: 13 x 8 x 8 in. | Weight: 4.5 lb.

Another standard one-gallon ultrasonic, cool-mist humidifier, the Drop is quiet enough to run in your baby’s nursery or kid’s bedroom at night. It has a dial for variable mist output control, so you can get the humidity levels just right. Though the humidifier doesn’t require a filter, Crane offers an optional one you can buy separately in case you have excessive minerals in your water that you’d like to filter out. What makes this humidifier unique in this lineup is its droplet-shaped lid, which can be rotated 360 degrees to send the mist in one particular direction.

In comes in a variety of color options, if you want to match to your kid’s colorful bedroom, too. You should be cleaning a humidifier like this about once a week, especially if it’s in a baby’s room. Keep that in mind since the bottom-fill tank without a handle or wide opening may make refilling and cleaning a bit more cumbersome.

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