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Published Oct. 11, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping indoor air humidity between 30 and 50 percent. Below that and you could experience dry skin and nasal passages, irritated eyes, and excessive static electricity. Dry air can also aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. An indoor humidifier is an affordable way to bump up humidity levels without adding complicated installation or maintenance to your to-do list. 

Humidifiers come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re all fairly simple in design. They use water from a water tank to create a fine mist using one of various methods to increase humidity levels. The best humidifier for your space will be large enough for the room and easy to clean with a design that fits your style. With the right model, you can sleep and breathe better and stay more comfortable when the weather causes humidity levels to drop.

How we chose the best humidifiers

Methodology

I based my humidifier choices on output control, cleaning ease, tank capacity, and extra features. Models with more output controls let you fine-tune the humidifier’s performance. Adjustable outputs or variable fan settings provide extra control. Cleaning ease played a major role in my choices, too. 

While some humidifiers aren’t the easiest to clean, I looked for features that help provide access to all of the necessary parts. Tank capacities should be high enough that you only have to refill about once a day. (Of course, that depends on the setting and the humidity levels.) Finally, extra features like built-in humidistats, essential oil trays, and attractive designs factored in, too.

The best humidifiers: reviews and recommendations

Best humidifier: Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier

Quiet and adjustable

This humidifier covers up to 500 square feet, offers an option for aromatherapy, and operates quietly. Everlasting Comfort

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Why it made the cut: With a large-capacity water tank, adjustable mist output, auto shutoff feature, and essential oil tray, our top pick for the best humidifier ticks all the boxes and then some. 

Specs: 

  • Coverage: 500 square feet
  • Tank capacity: 6L (1.6 gallons)
  • Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 13 inches

Pros:

  • Adjustable mist output
  • Large 1.6-gallon water tank
  • Tank provides up to 50 hours of running time
  • Quiet operation

Cons: 

  • Some units fail prematurely
  • Narrow opening makes cleaning difficult

Designed for use in rooms up to 500 square feet, the Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier provides a large 1.6-gallon tank with the capacity to last nearly 50 hours on the lowest setting. Users have a couple of options for fine-tuning humidity levels, thanks to the control dial and the adjustable mist output. 

If aromatherapy is your thing, there’s an essential oil tray, too. This model can also act as a nightlight if you’re checking on a sick family member in the middle of the night. The light turns red if the automatic shutoff kicks in when the water levels run low, giving you a quick heads up that it’s time for a refill.  

While we love the performance of this model, cleaning it isn’t the easiest. A narrow opening requires the use of a long scrubber or some sort of cleaning solvent. Additionally, there’s a small number of units that fail prematurely after only a few months of use.

Best value: Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Tiny but mighty

The Crane humidifier keeps things simple but very functional with its small footprint and impressive output. Crane

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Why it made the cut: The Crane’s adjustable output direction and detachable, easy-to-clean base win it a spot among the best of the best. 

Specs: 

  • Coverage: 500 square feet
  • Tank capacity: 3.8L (1 gallons)
  • Dimensions: 8.6 x 8.6 x 13.4 inches

Pros:

  • Mist lid adjusts 360°
  • Detachable cord for easier cleaning
  • Variable output control for precise humidifying
  • Eight color options

Cons: 

  • Can leak if mist lid isn’t properly fit

The Crane humidifier features an attractive design and small footprint. Yet, it still has a one-gallon water tank capacity, giving it an approximately 24-hour runtime. The mist lid can rotate a full 360 degrees to allow for directional vapor. However, you have to make sure to get that lid on correctly, or it can leak. 

Variable adjustment on the output controls provides precise control over how much humidity enters the home. Plus, we like that this model comes in eight fun colors.

Best humidifier for baby: Levoit Baby Bedroom Top Fill Cool Mist Humidifier

Quiet comfort

The Levoit humidifier’s smart sensor keeps humidity levels steady, so little ones can sleep and breathe easier. Levoit

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Why it made the cut: In addition to its quiet operation that won’t disrupt little sleepers, the Levoit features a helpful smart sensor that automatically adjusts the humidifier’s output based on the humidity level. It’s one of the best humidifiers for baby rooms.

Specs:

  • Coverage: 260 square feet
  • Tank capacity: 1.8L (.48 gallons)
  • Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 10.6 inches

Pros:

  • Intelligent sleep mode automatically adjusts output 
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to fill

Cons: 

  • Small tank size
  • Difficult to clean the inner tube

The Levoit humidifier packs a lot into a small package. It includes a built-in humidity sensor so that it can adjust the output accordingly and features ultra-quiet operation. You can also add essential oils to it for use as a diffuser. The refill process is super easy. An automatic shutoff feature turns off the humidifier when the water runs out to prevent overheating. 

However, there are a couple of things to watch out for. First, the tank is pretty small. Second, the tank is easy to clean, but there’s an inner tube that’s not. It has grooves that require more detailed scrubbing. 

Best evaporative humidifier: Pure Enrichment MistAire Eva

Adjustable shutoff

The MistAire features four fan speeds and an adjustable automatic timer for nighttime use or use when you’re away from home. Pure Enrichment

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Why it made the cut: The MistAire’s adjustable automatic timer and four fan speeds provide excellent humidity control in spaces up to 500 square feet. 

Specs:

  • Coverage: 500 square feet
  • Tank capacity: 2.8L (.74 gallons)
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 13.5 inches

Pros:

  • Automatic shutoff works in 2, 4, and 8-hour increments
  • Four fan speeds
  • Multicolor night light can also shut off

Cons: 

  • Difficult to find replacement filters

One of the best evaporative humidifiers, the Pure Enrichment MistAire Eva has an automatic timer which offers two, four, or eight-hour shutoff increments. That’s perfect for nighttime or if you worry about leaving it on when you leave. You can set the timer based on how long you anticipate being home and can forget about it until you get back. The MistAire also provides four fan speeds to help keep the humidity at comfortable levels. This is especially helpful for those who live in a climate where humidity levels change throughout the year.

While the MistAire’s microbial filter works well, it’s not easy to replace. They can only be bought from the manufacturer, and they’re frequently out of stock.  

Best whole-house humidifier: AIRCARE EP9 800 Digital Whole-House Humidifier

Pedestal power

This whole-house humidifier can cover up to 2,400 square feet and offers nine fan levels for minute humidity adjustments. Aircare

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Why It Made The Cut: In addition to its sizable 3.5-gallon capacity, high output, and variety of output levels, this whole-house humidifier is also one of the easier models to clean. 

Specs: 

  • Coverage: 2,400 square feet
  • Tank capacity: 13.24L (3.5 gallons)
  • Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 27.25 inches

Pros:

  • Built-in humidistat maintains set humidity level
  • Digital display makes it easy to check humidity
  • Easy-to-clean filter
  • 9 fan levels let you customize the output

Cons: 

  • Noisy

The AIRCARE EP9 800 Digital Whole-House Humidifier has a pedestal design, so it doesn’t connect directly to the HVAC. Instead, you place it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and set the humidistat to your desired humidity level. The humidistat then controls the humidifier. 

A digital display on the front shows what the actual humidity is, letting you see how far the humidifier has to go. Another thing we liked was the easy filter access, which makes it easy to clean. 

Filling isn’t the easiest part of this model, but it’s not too bad. There’s an opening into which you pour 3.5 gallons of water. You’ll have to use a pitcher or some kind of funnel to avoid spilling. The only thing we don’t like? The noise—this big humidifier gets a bit loud at the higher fan speeds. 

Things to consider before buying a humidifier

Humidifier type

  • Warm-mist: Warm-mist humidifiers heat the water to create vapor before cooling it for release. They’re considered the safest types because the heating process kills microbes in the water. Warm-mist models tend to be quiet, but they’re also more costly to run because they take more power to heat the water. 
  • Cool-mist: Cool-mist humidifiers can work in different ways. Some put water from their reservoir through a wick filter to remove impurities before emitting the water droplets into the air. Others directly evaporate water (evaporative humidifiers) to raise humidity levels. These models are easier to clean than warm-mist humidifiers, but bacteria, fungus, and mineral deposits are more likely to accrue. 
  • Ultrasonic: Ultrasonic humidifiers may be warm or cold mist (or both). They have a vibrating diaphragm that creates water droplets small enough that all you see is a mist or fog coming from the machine. These models are quiet and easy to clean. 
  • Whole-House: Whole-house humidifiers come in different types, from models that connect directly to the HVAC system to pedestal models large enough to humidify the whole house from a single room. These models are efficient, relatively easy to install, and can humidify an entire house with a single device. 

Noise level

Cool-mist humidifiers tend to be the noisiest models. If you’re looking for a model that’s quiet, evaporative (a type of cool-mist humidifier) and warm-mist models cut down on decibels. However, warm-mist models may not be the best choice for homes with kids or pets because of the potential for the heated water to spill. Evaporative humidifiers cut down on noise but emit cool water that won’t scald.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils from various plants for health benefits. You can add essential oils to the water in some humidifiers, while others have a slot or tray into which you can pour a few drops of essential oils. The oils are then emitted with the water vapor.  

Cleaning ease

It’s very important to clean a humidifier regularly, as they can grow bacteria, mold, or fungus if they are not properly sterilized after each use. Models that are easy to take apart and either hand wash or put parts in the dishwasher are the easiest to manage. Some models have a filter, which will need to be cleaned and replaced every so often. Keep in mind that the price of filters can drive up the total lifetime cost of the humidifier.

Coverage area

Humidifiers are designed to humidify a specific square footage. A large humidifier designed to work in a 500 square foot space may put out too much humidity for a 200 square foot room. A small humidifier may not make much of a difference in a large space. Estimate the area’s square footage to make sure you get a humidifier with the right coverage.

FAQs

Q: Can you put essential oils in a humidifier?

You can put essential oils in a humidifier that’s designed for use as a diffuser as well as a humidifier. These models feature an essential oils tray or designs meant for additions to the water tank. Do not add essential oils to a model that is not designed for this purpose.

Q: Does a humidifier help with congestion?

Humidifiers can help with congestion. They can moisten the nasal passage, which can loosen the congestion and help expel it.

Q: Can a humidifier make you sick?

Humidifiers require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent mold, mildew, and fungal growth. Spores and particles can be expelled with the vapor if the humidifier isn’t cleaned regularly or correctly.

Final thoughts on the best humidifiers

The Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier gets the top spot for the adjustable output, water tank capacity, and quiet operation. If you need something a little smaller with directional output, the Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is a good choice.

Related: Best Dehumidifiers.

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