Those who live in dry or frigid climates know that a little humidity goes a long way for the skin. If you’re in a dry environment, humidifiers can help: They introduce more moisture into your home by emitting water vapor into the air, which helps alleviate dry skin, chapped lips, nosebleeds and other dry-weather conditions.
“Dry skin can have an impaired barrier function, making the skin more prone to irritation and inflammation — humidifiers help prevent winter dermatitis,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung. More moisture in the air also helps slow down the transmission of microbes in your home — which helps allergies — and combats irritation of your skin, nasal passages, throat and more due to dry air, according to experts. (But keep in mind, humidifiers require weekly cleaning to avoid build up of mold and bacteria.)
To help you determine the best humidifier for your space, we spoke to experts about the benefits of humidifiers, the different types available and what to consider when shopping for one. We also rounded up highly rated options based on their guidance.
Our top picks
- Top cool-mist humidifier: Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier
- Top warm-mist humidifier: Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
- Top humidifier for large rooms: Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
- Top budget humidifier: Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Top high-end humidifier: Venta LW25 Airwasher
How we picked the best humidifiers
“The best humidifier is the one that you will use and maintain regularly — if it’s too difficult to fill or clean, it will just gather dust and mold in the corner,” Cheung said. We talked to experts about the different types of humidifiers, their benefits and how to shop for them. When shopping for a new humidifier, our experts highlighted the following factors to consider:
- Type of humidifiers, including cool-mist humidifiers (ultrasonic and evaporative, which are ideal for dryness and can be good year-round) and warm-mist humidifiers (vaporizers, best for colder climates).
- Automatic shutoff, which means the humidifier will automatically turn off after a long period of time.
- Mold resistance, a self-cleaning feature that helps prevent mold from forming in the water or the device itself.
- Tank size and speed settings, which determine how long the humidifier can run before needing a refill. The tank size you need is also determined by the square footage of your room.
Best humidifiers to shop
Below, we highlighted some top-rated humidifiers to consider, all of which are in line with our experts’ guidance.
Top overall cool-mist humidifier: Everlasting Comfort
Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier
This cool mist, ultrasonic humidifier humidifier is designed to automatically shut off when the device detects it has run out of water, and its essential oil tray lets the machine double as a diffuser to also add a pleasant scent throughout your home. The Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist has earned a 4.3-star average rating from over 54,500 reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 1.6 gallons | Run time: Up to 50 hours | Room size: Up to 500 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top affordable ultrasonic humidifier: Pure Enrichment
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
This humidifier's lightweight design — it weighs slightly under 1.5 pounds — makes it ideal for tighter, cozier spaces, according to the brand. It includes a nightlight to help create a more soothing sleep environment, according to Pure Enrichment. It has a 4.4-star average rating across more than 103,000 customer reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 0.4 gallons | Run time: Up to 25 hours | Room size: Up to 250 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top affordable evaporative humidifier: Vicks
Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier
If you're looking for a cool-mist humidifier to put in your child’s room, this budget-friendly model might be a good option. It has an antimicrobial filter that removes impurities to prevent white dust in hard water areas, according to Cheung. Plus, “it has the bonus of a relaxing starry sky projector," she said. This Vicks humidifier has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 3,600 reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: 24 hours | Room size: Up to 400 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: No
Top cool-mist humidifier for large rooms: Levoit
Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
This ultrasonic humidifier from Levoit includes dual-temperature control, which means you can set the temperature of either a cool or warm mist around your room. It also comes with a remote that lets you turn the humidifier on and off, as well as control mist levels. “It has a large tank and provides humidistats to avoid over-humidification,” said Cheung. The Levoit LV600HH earned a 4.4-star average rating from over 24,800 reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 1.6 gallons | Run time: Up to 50 hours | Room size: Up to753 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top portable ultrasonic humidifier: CVS Health
CVS Health Portable Ultrasonic Humidifier
If you’re looking for a humidifier to take with you on-the-go, this portable option is compact, about the size and weight of an empty wine bottle. Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin said she loves this humidifier: “I’ve had it for years at this point, and it’s a very good budget option,” said Malin, who uses it at night during wintertime. Due to its compact water tank, it doesn’t have the capacity to produce vapor all night long, she noted. However, “it’s just enough that the air is not super dry, which is all I need,” she added.
Water capacity: About 0.2 gallons | Run time: Under 8 hours | Room size: Under 400 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: No
Top smart ultrasonic humidifier: Levoit
Levoit 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier
This top-fill humidifier from Levoit is a great option for large rooms at a decent price point, according to our experts. Select’s list editor Benji Stawski said he loves being able to control it directly from his phone using the brand’s VeSync App and set it on the specific schedule he wants. You can also use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa to adjust its settings, including its humidity level and sleep timer. Plus, its soft lighting can make it a good option to place in an infant’s bedroom. The Levoit 300S has earned a 4.5-star average rating from more than 21,700 Amazon reviews.
Water capacity: 1.6 gallons | Run time: Up to 60 hours| Room size: Up to 505 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top energy efficient evaporative humidifier: Vornado
Vornado EVDC300 Energy Smart Evaporative Humidifier
Whether you try the1-gallon tank version of this Vornado model or upgrade to the 2-gallon version (which humidifies up to 750 square feet), its Energy Smart Mode uses as little as 1 watt of power to keep your space humidified, according to the brand. The Vornado EVDC300 has a 4.1-star average rating from over 50 reviews at The Home Depot.
Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 24 hours| Room size: Up to 400 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top high-end ultrasonic humidifier: Homvana
Homvana Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Multiple experts recommended the Homvana because it can be controlled via the included remote — you can adjust the device to release warm or cool mist and control the humidity level. The humidifier can add 10% of moisture into the air in just 13 minutes, according to the brand. It also has a built-in aroma box so essential oils can be added. It has a 4.3 average rating from more than 300 reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 1.7 gallons | Run time: Up to 1.2 hours| Room size: Up to 861 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top high-end evaporative humidifier: Venta
Venta LW25 Airwasher
If you're ready to invest in a more robust option, the Venta LW25 Airwasher can help maintain a 40% to 60% humidity level in your home, according to the brand. The automatic shutoff feature also makes this filter-free model an energy-efficient option. The Venta LW25 has a 4.3-star average rating from over 100 reviews at The Home Depot.
Water capacity: 2 gallons | Run time: Up to 10 hours | Room size: Up to 430 square feet | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top ultrasonic facial humidifier: Hey Dewy
Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier
A favorite of Select editorial director Lauren Swanson, the Hey Dewy Facial Humidifier can help hydrate your face throughout the day. It’s both wireless and rechargeable, so you can take it with you while you travel. It also offers continuous and intermittent mist settings, as well as a soft LED light to keep next to your nightstand.
Water capacity: 12.4 oz. | Run time: Up to 8 hours | Room size: Under 400 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: No
Top overall warm-mist humidifier: Vicks
Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is designed to temporarily relieve cold symptoms and congestion by pumping out a warm mist into the air, according to the brand. It comes with a large tank opening for easy filling and designed for medium- to large-sized rooms.
Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 24 hours | Room size: Up to 500 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top two-in-one warm-mist humidifier and steam inhaler: Crane
Crane 2-in-1 Personal Steam Inhaler & Warm Mist Humidifier
This humidifier weighs 2.2 pounds, according to Crane, making it one of the most lightweight options on this list. It also comes with a personal steam inhaler for cough and cold that can be set up by replacing the humidifier tank with the included inhaler attachment, according to the brand. This model can heat water up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a warm mist, according to the brand. The Crane humidifier has a 4.2-star average rating among 2,900 Amazon reviews.
Water capacity: 0.5 gallons | Run time: Up to 8 hours | Room size: Up to 250 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
Top affordable warm-mist humidifier: Honeywell
Honeywell HWM845 Warm Mist Humidifier
Cheung said this warm-mist humidifier is especially quiet because it doesn't have a fan — although users may hear the sound of bubbling water. "There's also no costly filters to replace, but it's important to clean the mineral scale from a warm-mist humidifier to keep it running," Cheung added. This vaporizer has a 4.3-star average rating from over 800 reviews on Amazon.
Water capacity: 1 gallon | Run time: Up to 24 hours | Room size: Up to 270 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes
What are the benefits of using a humidifier?
Humidifiers help maintain a certain range of humidity or moisture in specific rooms or throughout your entire home. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity between 30% and 60% (below 50%, ideally) to avoid the potential of mold growth. When it comes to comfort, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers says the humidity level in your home should remain below 65%. According to the Mayo Clinic, low humidity can cause dry skin, irritate your nasal passages and throat and make your eyes itchy, while high humidity can make your home feel stuffy and cause condensation on surfaces, prompting the growth of harmful and irritating bacteria and mold.
Other than regulating your home's humidity and aiding in the above preventative measures, experts told us humidifiers have a variety of other benefits that many find worth the investment.
- Humidifiers can help keep skin looking younger. A humidifier can prevent flaky skin and help get it glowing again, explained Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The added moisture from a humidifier also helps your skin from looking aged. Fine lines and wrinkles look more prominent when your skin is dry,” she said.
- They help calm irritated skin. Jaliman noted that the added moisture released into the air can be soothing for itchy and inflamed skin.
- They might help relieve allergy symptoms. Humidifiers “can help those who tend to get a bloody nose from dryness and allergies,” Jaliman added.
Types of humidifiers
There are four main types of humidifiers, each using a different way of producing hot or cool moisture (or both) into the air, according to the experts we consulted.
Cool-mist humidifiers can help reintroduce moisture into your home by pumping out a cool mist into the air. These humidifiers can be a bit noisier than warm-mist humidifiers as they typically contain a fan. There are two main types of cool-mist humidifiers: evaporative and ultrasonic.
- Evaporative humidifiers create a very fine mist that isn't always visible to the human eye. Unlike warm-mist humidifiers, these humidifiers have no heating element, so there is no risk of burns, Cheung said. They work by using a fan to blow air through a filter. However, the fans can be noisy, and the filter should be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria and mold from growing.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations outside the human hearing range to expel water droplets into the air as a cool mist. They usually have a small fan to disperse the mist over large areas. "These devices don't use heat and are quiet, but do require maintenance to keep them free of mold and bacterial overgrowth," Cheung said, adding that she prefers this type because it doesn’t have a filter that needs to be replaced.
Warm-mist humidifiers — also known as vaporizers — have an internal heater that boils the water before releasing it into the air as steam, creating a warm mist. They’re typically more affordable and quieter than cool-mist humidifiers, and they can slightly warm up the air in the wintertime. Our experts noted that users should avoid sitting too close to steam vaporizers and avoid putting them in children’s rooms since they can get very hot.
How to shop for a new humidifier
Whether you’re looking for your first humidifier or just want to upgrade your current model, the experts we consulted highlighted the different types of humidifiers, along with several features to keep in mind.
- Type of humidifier: Humidifiers come in two main types: cool-mist humidifiers (evaporative and ultrasonic) and warm-mist humidifiers (vaporizer). Each has a different way of producing and pushing hot or cold moisture into the air. Which one you choose depends on your own space and needs. For instance, warm-mist humidifier models are usually quieter but can get too hot to put in a child’s room; others are small enough to mist your face when it’s feeling dry.
- Automatic shutoff: Self-regulating humidifiers can automatically turn off. This avoids putting too much moisture in the air, which can speed the growth of mold and mildew, Cheung said.
- Mold resistance: Any mold that forms within the water or machine can be dispersed into the air, so this feature helps keep the water clean. However, even with mold-resistant humidifiers, it is imperative to clean them at least once weekly to avoid buildup, our experts noted.
- Tank size and speed settings: The size of the tank and the different speed settings can affect how long the humidifier can run before needing a refill, as well as the size of the room it can rehydrate. Portable units range in size from 1 liter to 6 gallons, which would be sufficient for a 3,600-square-foot home. A 2-gallon will usually run for 12 or more hours on low, but a 1-liter will require refilling every eight hours or so.
- Room size: The size of your humidifier largely depends on the size of your room, according to our experts. For smaller rooms under 400 square feet, a humidifier with up to 1.5 gallons is sufficient. For a medium room between 400 and 1,000 square feet, a tank size of between 1 gallon and 3 gallons is needed. A large room of over 1,000 square feet should have a humidifier with a tank size of more than 3 gallons.
- Multiple uses: In addition to adding moisture into the air, some humidifier models are also able to purify the air, diffuse essential oils through a separate chamber and work with a nebulizer attachment.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Jessie Cheung is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Cheung Aesthetics & Wellness.
- Dr. Debra Jaliman is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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