These Top-Rated Humidifiers Will Save Your Dry, Irritated Skin This Winter

·8 min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy


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Whether you’re battling a rough cold or nasty allergies, there’s one thing that will always make your symptoms worse: dry air. “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 humidifiers come in. These handy devices kick the 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, or cough. Once the air hits about 40% humidity, most people start to feel better, Dr. Canfield explains.

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.

Best Overall: Levoit Classic 200 Humidifier

This ultrasonic humidifier is affordable, handsome, and pretty big—in other words, it’s the total package. Its one-gallon tank lasts up to 40 hours on the low setting, and it’s the ideal size for medium-sized rooms. Plus, there’s no 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.

Best Value: Raydrop Cool Mist Humidifier

It can be hard to find a humidifier you like at an affordable price, but for less than $30, this budget-friendly one is worth a try, reviewers say. Its compact build makes it ideal for small areas, like your bedside table or work-from-home station. Take advantage of its lowest setting—it’ll give you 10 hours of continuous moisture while producing little more than a whisper. “They are easy to fill and clean,” writes one reviewer, who bought one for every room. “These are awesome. There is a small gurgle noise every now and again, but the mist is fine.”

Easiest to Clean: Vicks Filter-Free Humidifier

Reviewers rave about how easy this filterless, ultrasonic humidifier is to clean: “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. And as a bonus, its nozzle and output knob are beyond simple to adjust.

Best Antibacterial: Safety 1st Stay Clean Humidifier

This small-yet-mighty humidifier boasts a one-gallon tank and constant sanitization, thanks to UV lights that kill up to 99.9% of bacteria present in your water. Plus, it spits out cool mist on 11 different speeds for up to 24 hours, making it one of the most versatile options here. (It’s no wonder we’re such big fans; this model won high marks in our 2021 Healthy Home Awards!)

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 it 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.

Best for Whole House: Aircare MA1201 Humidifier

If you need a humidifier for your whole home, this easy-to-clean device will get the job done—its moisture reaches 3,600 square feet. 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.

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. As if that wasn’t enough, 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. “Been running this at night for several nights now, and overall I am pleased.”

Best Vaporizing: Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

This Vicks model 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, a soft night light, and an automatic shut-off function for when it runs out of water. It also includes a cup for liquids like Vicks VapoSteam, making it ideal for anyone with a cold who wants a little more out of their humidifier. You won’t have to worry about getting up constantly, either, since its tank lasts up to 24 hours on a single fill.

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 for Travel: Elechomes UM0001 Mini-Humidifier

This portable humidifier is just what you need after all-day travel or on getaways to arid climates. To turn a normal bottle of water into a tank, simply twist it into the device and let it drain. (Bottled water is already distilled, meaning it’s the best kind to use in a humidifier.) “It was great for the hotel room and allowed me to sleep without my throat drying out,” a reviewer writes. “I highly recommend if you are sensitive to dry atmospheres.”

Best Longevity: 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. 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.

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, skip the hassle and combine them 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.”

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