The changing of the seasons is beautiful, but certain times of the year also bring an unwelcome guest: dry air. Whether you’re looking out for your skin’s health or battling a rough cold or nasty allergies, dry air can exacerbate your symptoms.
“When humidity levels are low, people tend to experience dry eyes, cracked lips, and irritated sinuses,” says Stephen Canfield, M.D., an allergist at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown in New York City. That’s where the best humidifiers come in.
Home humidifiers kick uncomfortable dryness out of your home by adding much-needed moisture to the air, which can help alleviate uncomfortable cold and allergy symptoms like runny nose, sinus congestion, dry throat, and cough. Plus, they’ll help keep your skin from feeling leathery. Once the air hits about 40% humidity, most people start to feel better, Dr. Canfield explains.
But with so many options available online, finding the right humidifier can seem impossible—here’s exactly how to do it.
How to choose the best humidifier for your home
Compare mist options. Humidifiers either use warm mist (including steam vaporizing methods) or cool mist (including evaporative options) to add moisture to the air. Ultrasonic humidifiers can be either warm mist or cool mist, and some units include the option for both.
The type you choose is ultimately up to you, but in general, cool mist humidifiers are the safest option (especially if you have children or pets around), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Warm mist humidifiers, meanwhile, run hot and have the potential to cause burns if you get too close. Also, evaporative humidifiers often spit out invisible mist, so don’t be alarmed if they don’t appear to be working.
Measure your space. The best size for your humidifier depends on the size of the room in which you plan to use it. Personal or travel-sized humidifiers typically only reach 25 to 100 square feet. Check the square footage your machine can reach (which is determined by its gallon size) on its packaging before you invest in one.
Pick an easy-to-clean option. It’s best to regularly change the filter or clean your humidifier, preferably daily, but at least every two to three days, so pick an option with cheap (or no) filters, plus parts that are easy to wash. Otherwise, mold could grow inside the device due to standing water and get blown through your home, making life pretty awful for those with mold allergies—or anyone, really. Better yet, use distilled water in your chosen machine if possible, since tap water contains minerals that can breed bacteria and irritate your sinuses.
After you install and run your humidifier, make sure you’re using it correctly, too. Ideally, indoor humidity should not exceed 50%, per the Environmental Protection Agency. Avoid running your humidifier for long periods of time and make sure to set a humidity level, if your machine has that feature. When the air is too damp, mold and mildew can grow and cause breathing problems.
Ready to breathe easier, feel more comfortable, and soothe your irritated sinuses? These top-rated humidifiers will improve your home’s air in no time, whether you’re looking to add moisture to your bedroom, nursery, or entire house.
Best Overall: Levoit Classic 200 Humidifier
This ultrasonic humidifier is affordable, handsome, and conveniently sized—a great option for pretty much any home. With a one-gallon tank that lasts up to 40 hours on the lowest setting, it’s got an ideal capacity for medium-sized rooms. You also won’t have to deal with a filter, which means it’s super-easy to clean. “Without a doubt, this is the best ultrasonic humidifier I have owned to date,” explains one reviewer, who appreciates its durability, beginner-friendly design, and ease of cleaning. “I highly recommend this product and also this company.”
Best Value: Pohl Schmitt Ultrasonic Viral Support Humidifier
It’s difficult to find a great humidifier for less than $30, but this filterless option proves that it’s not impossible. While others in this price range usually hold less than half a liter of water, this one fits 1.5, which translates to far fewer trips to the sink. Take advantage of its lowest setting, which offers up to 16 hours of continuous mist—it’ll shut off when it runs dry. “I really like this humidifier, especially since it doesn't require a filter,” one reviewer notes. “It is small enough so that I can have it on my nightstand.”
Easiest to Clean: Vicks Filter-Free Humidifier
Reviewers rave about how easy this ultrasonic humidifier is to clean, thanks to its filterless design: “The tank has round edges with a large filling hole, big enough to get my hand and sponge in,” says one, who goes on to praise its high output and quiet operation. To keep your home from getting too humid, you can also use its auto shut-off. Plus, its nozzle and output knob are beyond simple to adjust.
Best for Bedrooms: Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier
Sleep easier with this ultra-quiet, easy-to-clean humidifier, which pumps out moisture at a low, cool mist for up to 18 hours on its quietest setting. It’s big enough to keep your room comfortable, yet small enough to place on your nightstand or move around with ease. And if aesthetics are your priority, you won’t need to hide this one from guests: Its water tank is in the back, and the machine easily blends into the background.
Best for Large Rooms: Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier
This do-it-all cool mist humidifier holds six liters of water for rooms up to 500 square feet, and even includes a tray for essential oils. First-time buyers will also appreciate its automatic shut-off feature, which keeps the unit from operating without any water. And with a two-year warranty, this humidifier is worth the investment. “This humidifier hands-down is the best one I’ve bought so far,” one Amazon reviewer raves. “It functions well without any hiccups, and the cherry on top is its massive volume, so I don’t have to fill it as frequently.”
Best for the Whole House: Aircare MA1201 Humidifier
If you need a humidifier for your entire home, this easy-to-clean device will get the job done; its moisture reaches a maximum of 3,600 square feet, more than enough for the average home. You can set the humidity level using a digital humidistat, and then it automatically powers down once it hits your desired percentage. Of course, it’s larger than the other models here, but the attached wheels make it portable.
Best Evaporative: Canopy Humidifier
Doubling as an aroma diffuser, Canopy’s flagship humidifier is beyond easy to clean: You can just throw most of it in the dishwasher. It’s exceptionally clean elsewhere, too, thanks to built-in UV lights and a sensor that prevents moisture from gathering, which prevents mold. And among other humidifiers, it’s actually kind of cute, meaning you won’t think twice about leaving it on your nightstand. It’s also aimed squarely at beauty sleepers, with the brand touting its super-fine, skin-plumping mist.
Best Ultrasonic: Levoit Classic 300S Humidifier
This cool mist humidifier blows away the competition with smart design, including a top-fill tank, a removable lid for simple cleaning, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Better yet, you can even control it with Amazon Alexa, making it the smartest device on this list. “It’s super-quiet and easy to fill,” one reviewer says. “This humidifier is quite simply the best I’ve tried,” says another, who tried 10 other ultrasonic options before finding this one.
Best Vaporizing: Honeywell HWM-705B Humidifier
This Honeywell warm mist humidifier boils water into a steam vapor, which reviewers say is remarkably effective at moisturizing the air. It’s also user-friendly, with no filter, easy cleaning, and an automatic shut-off function for when it runs out of water. You won’t have to worry about getting up constantly, either, since its tank lasts up to 24 hours on a single fill. “All in all, this is a great and cheap machine,” writes one Amazon reviewer, who uses these gadgets at a research station in Antarctica. “It has a lot of features that many equally priced humidifiers don’t. If you love it, it will love you back.”
Best Warm and Cool Mist: PureGuardian H4810AR Humidifier
If you really don’t want to deal with filling your humidifier every day, consider this option, which is powerful enough for large rooms and boasts the ability to spit out both warm and cool mists, plus a tray for diffusing essential oils. On its lowest setting, it spits out a continuous mist for up to 120 hours—that’s five entire days! Reviewers love that it has a mold-resistant tank and a relatively quiet design, too. It’s “as good as you’re going to get,” one reviewer summarizes.
Best for Nurseries: Pure Enrichment MistAire Cloud
This too-cute humidifier looks more like an art piece than it does a device, thanks to its cloud-shaped, kid-friendly build. Because it’s lightweight, small, and quiet, you can take it anywhere that may not have space for a bulkier appliance, such as a nursery or kid’s room. Plus, it’s got a nightlight built in, making it doubly functional.
Best Air Purifier: Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifier
Plugging in too many devices can be a drain on your energy bill and your available outlets; if you know you want an air purifier, too, combine the two gadgets with Sharp’s Plasmacluster. Beloved by reviewers and Prevention editors alike, it shows your room’s humidity level on an easy-to-read display and cleans your air while hydrating it. “This device automatically adjusts the humidity setting based on temperature—the higher the temperature, the less it’ll humidify,” one reviewer explains. “We’re pretty happy so far.”