According to Ratika Gupta, M.D., a board-certified allergist at ENT and Allergy Associates in Brooklyn, indoor allergens are a major contributor to allergy symptoms ranging from sneezing and post-nasal drip to itchy eyes and asthma-type symptoms. And in the winter, when we tend to spend more time indoors, Dr. Gupta says these symptoms may be more pronounced. “Humidifiers help keep the nasal passages moisturized, so they don’t feel dry,” she explains. “Studies show that moderate humidity levels could help decrease airborne pathogens, which then may decrease the risk of getting sick.”
So, does this mean that buying a humidifier will solve all your problems? Not necessarily. “Humidifiers keep the air moisturized, which dust mites actually love,” Dr. Gupta explains. “It is important to keep the humidity level monitored to decrease the symptoms.” She recommends a humidity level around 40–50% to keep your air moisturized while staving off dust mites and mold.
We’ve noted which humidifiers on our list are compatible with essential oils; however, Dr. Gupta is not a fan of them. “Avoid essential oils in humidifiers—especially if you have asthma,” she says.
What else should you look for in a humidifier?
Dr. Gupta provides four tips:
- The amount of noise it makes. If you’re a light sleeper, you might want to avoid anything with too much ambient noise.
- Ease of cleaning. Not cleaning you humidifier can be harmful, so make sure you are okay with the added labor. Depending on how often you use it, the humidifier should be cleaned every 3–7 days.
- Whether or not it has a hygrometer (or you can purchase one, like this). Most of the humidifiers on our list have a built-in hygrometer to let you know the room’s humidity level.
- Water tank size. A smaller tank means more frequent refills.
Best Overall Humidifier: Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
We think the Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier is the best choice for most people. Here’s why: It can hold 1.5 gallons of water and last for up to 50 hours before the tank needs to be refilled. And since there are no filters, you don’t have to worry about the cost of replacing them. The humidifier can cover large rooms—up to 753 square feet—and it provides both ultrasonic cool mist or warm mist options, so it can be used during any season. Also, the humidity sensor can detect the humidity level in the room and make adjustments automatically. As Dr. Gupta pointed out, it’s best if you don’t use essential oils in humidifiers, but there is an aroma box for adding them, in addition to aroma pads, and even a cleaning brush. It’s also really easy to control the Levoit LV600HH via the touch controls on the humidifier’s interface, or use the remote control. Levoit doesn’t list the noise level, but it sounds like a whisper, and you will barely hear it. The humidifier is available in black or white.
The Levoit Dual 200S Smart Humidifier looks like a stylish water jug, but it’s actually a smart appliance that can run for 25 hours before it needs to be refilled. The portable Levoit Dual 200S can hold 0.79 gallons and can cover up to 290 square feet. Since it fills from the top, the humidifier is both leak-proof and easy to fill and clean, and it is compatible with essential oils. Even though it’s economically priced, the Levoit Dual 200S has a built-in humidity sensor that can automatically detect if the room is too dry or too humid and adjust the mist levels accordingly. The machine can be controlled via Alexa and Google using Levoit’s VeSync app, and there’s a scheduling feature where you can set when to turn it on and off. In addition, the Noise Defender design lets it operate quietly.
The Elechomes SH8830 Humidifier can cover 861 square feet, making it an ideal choice for large rooms. The large water tank holds up to 72 hours worth of mist, which can be either warm or cool, depending on the season. We also like that this top fill model is quite easy to fill, empty, and clean. In addition, the 360-degree double rotatable nozzles let you aim the mist in any direction, and the appliance doesn’t get louder than 20dB, making it really quiet. Since the humidifier has an auto mode, it will automatically adjust the air’s humidity. The touch controls are easy to use, and the remote control provides additional convenience. It’s available in black and white.
If you’re looking for a humidifier that’s simple enough to let your older kids use and also easy to transport, consider the portable Lasko UH250 Ultrasonic Cool Mist humidifier. There are only three touch controls (power, mist settings, and auto-off timer) as well as an option to turn the nightlight on or off. The tank holds 0.924 gallons and can last 18 hours on low. It’s a top filler, making it easy to clean. There are no filters to change out, although the humidifier does have an aromatherapy scent tray for essential oils.
It’s significantly more expensive than the other humidifiers on our list, but the Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde PH04 also does a lot more, actually reducing the number of appliances you may need in your home. It captures pollutants in the air while also measuring moisture levels in the air, and then produces hygienically humidified and purified air—and it can also cool like a fan. The Dyson is also fully sealed to HEPA H13 standards, which means it can remove 99.95% of particles in the air. In addition to maintaining the target level of moisture in the air, our favorite feature is that the air purifier/humidifier also destroys formaldehyde, which can be present in paint, furniture, carpets, household cleaners, fireplaces, and even plywood. You can also control it with the remote, via the Dyson Link app, or use voice assistants. The Deep Clean cycle can be activated at the touch of a button, and removes any mineral build-up. The Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde is available in Nickel/Gold and White/Gold.
The HoMedics Total Comfort Warm & Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier is one of our favorites because with two separate tanks that hold a total of 1.7 gallons of water we don’t have to tend to it that often. Also, this humidifier can provide an 80-hour runtime, and it’s also pretty easy to clean. That’s due, in part, to the CleanMist antimicrobial technology, which is designed to keep the appliance free from mold and mildew and also avoid the white dust that results from using hard water in the tank. The humidifier also includes two demineralization cartridges, for when it does need to be cleaned.
The Ultenic H8 Smart Humidifier may be the coolest looking humidifier on the list, but it’s also the best smart humidifier. In addition to the LED touch screen, you can control it on your iPhone via the Ultenic Smart App, or issue voice commands via Alexa and Google Home. The 360-degree nozzle can be pointed in any direction, and it can cover 323 square feet. The 1.2-gallon top-fill water tank lasts for 30 hours before it needs to be refilled. One additional feature: The LED lights at the bottom of the humidifier can be set to blue, orange, green, or a combination of colors. Or you can turn the lights completely off via the app.
If you prefer a humidifier that fills from the bottom, the Elechomes UC5501 is an excellent choice. It has a 1.6-gallon tank, and it can provide 60 hours of ultrasonic cool mist or warm mist. The humidifier also has a sleep noise level of less than 32dB, and a humidity sensor to automatically make adjustments to provide the right humidity level. The 360-degree dual nozzle lets you aim the mist in the desired location, and the LED touch display controls are easy to operate. It’s available in black and in white.