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Dry air in your home can cause all kinds of issues, from sinus and skin problems to cracked floorboards and that static shock we all loathe. Using a humidifier regularly can make a big difference. We’ll help you find the best humidifier to fit your home’s needs.
- Warm Mist vs Cool Mist
- Top Overall Picks
- Other Top Picks By Category
- Cleaning Your Humidifier
- Consider Getting An Air Purifier As Well
Both warm and cool mist humidifiers do an equally good job of humidifying the air and easing problems associated with dry air, including irritated sinuses, sore throats, coughs, bloody noses, cracked lips, itchy skin and respiratory ailments. But there are some differences you should know.
Warm mist humidifiers use an internal heating element that boils water before releasing it into the air. Many consider warm mist humidifiers healthier than cool mist because the boiling process kills waterborne bacteria and mold.
Warm mist humidifiers, however, aren’t ideal for large areas, are more expensive to operate, are less energy efficient and are typically more difficult to clean because the boiling process can leave mineral deposits in the water tank. While they’re great during cold months, some may find that they warm up a room too much in the summer.
Cool mist humidifiers are ideal for large areas and use less electricity, so they’re cheaper to operate and more energy efficient. They’re also the best choice for parents — warm mist humidifiers can result in burns if children get too close. Cool mist humidifiers use either evaporative or ultrasonic technology.
Evaporative humidifiers use an internal wick filter that absorbs water while an internal fan blows air through the filter. Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultrasonic vibration to create and release a cool mist.
Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers are much quieter and don’t require regular wick filter replacements like evaporative units. But take note: ultrasonic humidifiers create a layer of white dust on surfaces if your tap or well water contains a lot of minerals.
We chose the Honeywell HCM-350 as the best all-around cool mist humidifier for its ease of use, competitive price and overall performance. It’s also our pick for the best humidifier for colds and allergies. This evaporative humidifier doesn’t leave white dust around the room as do ultrasonic humidifiers when you use hard water (tap or well water).
This Honeywell model humidifies the air quickly, is quiet and energy-efficient, has no bright lights, and its tank is extremely easy to fill and clean. It also works well for rooms up to 400 square feet and runs for up to 24 hours on low.
The Vicks V750 Warm Mist Humidifier is an affordably priced and compact option that can run for up to 12 hours on the high setting or 24 hours on low. It’s ideal for small to medium-sized rooms. Although all warm mist humidifiers pose a safety risk, this humidifier combines room air and hot steam in a chamber, so it emits a warm, not scorching mist.
Our Personal Review
A member of our team has been using this Vicks Humidifier for nearly ten years and it still works extremely well. She fills it up each night before bed and lets it run until morning when she turns it off, restarting the cycle each evening. It does a great job of reducing dry skin and chapped lips in winter. Leaking has never been a problem and she finds it relatively easy to clean.
Can’t decide between a cool or warm mist? Or want the option of using both? Then the Levoit LV600HH Hybrid is your best option — and it comes with some cool features to boot.
This ultrasonic humidifier has a built-in humidity sensor so you can set your desired level, super high mist output of up to 500ml/hr, a remote control, an aroma box for essential oils and a large 1.5-gallon tank that can run up to 36 hours on low. It’s also a great option for large rooms.
In addition to our overall top picks, we’ve reviewed several other humidifiers that could suit your specific needs.
The Honeywell Quietcare HCM-6009 console unit is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best humidifier for apartments or covering multiple rooms in your home. This evaporative cool mist humidifier features a large 3-gallon tank that lasts for 24 hours on low, a humidistat and auto shut off. While it doesn’t have many bells and whistles, it gets the job done well.
The Tekjoy 2.5L Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier is an excellent budget-friendly, high-performing product that’s well-suited for a nursery or bedroom. Two huge plusses: it’s ultra-quiet and doesn’t need filter replacements.
It also has auto shut off, or you can set the timer for 4, 8 or 12 hours if you don’t want it running all night. The water tank is only 2.5L (0.67 gallons), but it lasts up to 10 hours on the medium setting. Users say it’s easy to clean and does a fantastic job humidifying a small to medium-sized room.
While the Tekjoy humidifier we review above is a great choice for bedrooms, some may find that it doesn’t last long enough (it only gives you 12 hours before having to refill the water tank).
An excellent alternative is the VicTsing Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, which is also super quiet and can last up to 24 hours on low without needing to be refilled. The VicTsing doesn’t have a touchpad, timer, night light or carrying handle like the Tekjoy, but it’s a great value if you’re on a tight budget.
If you have a forced-air heating system and want to humidify your entire house, you’re in luck. You can purchase a furnace/whole house humidifier that taps into your air ducts and attaches to your home’s water supply. These furnace (sometimes called whole house) humidifiers are pricey and usually require professional installation, but they could be worth the investment to keep your entire house humidified.
We’ve chosen the Aprilaire 700 as the best whole house furnace humidifier for an HVAC system. This humidifier covers 4,200 square feet and puts out up to 18 gallons of water per day. It works by sucking the heat from the central air system and blowing it back into a wet screen to produce evaporated water into the air duct.
It has two modes; automatic and manual, which has temperature, relative humidity and service indicators that you can adjust for your desired humidity level and energy use. Unless you’re very handy, you should probably get this humidifier professionally installed. But Amazon’s review section has excellent customer tips if you choose DIY installation.
Emptying your humidifier’s tank and drying all surfaces daily is the best way to keep it clean. Standing water can quickly result in bacteria and mold growth and mineral buildup, which gets released into the air with cool mist humidifiers. The heating process in warm mist humidifiers, however, usually kills these materials.
Tip: You can cut down on mineral deposits by using a Berkey water filter or bottled water that’s labeled “distilled” or “purified,” rather than tap water.
Check out the following video for some deep cleaning tips.
Humidifiers are proven to decrease the dry air in your house and help with sinus problems, cold symptoms and dry skin, as well as helping your home’s infrastructure by preventing cracks from air that’s too dry.
But if you or your family members suffer from chronic allergies or asthma — or if you’re worried about the general air quality in your home — you should consider purchasing an air purifier in addition to a humidifier. Unlike humidifiers, air purifiers actually clean the air in your home. Be sure to read our best air purifier reviews to learn more and see our top recommendations.
Why do you feel you need a home humidifier?
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