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How to shop for the best humidifiers in 2024, according to experts

Experts say humidifiers can help relieve dry skin and reduce allergy symptoms. Here are some highly rated models to consider.
Our experts say there are two main types of humidifiers, each emitting hot or cool moisture (or both) in different ways.
Our experts say there are two main types of humidifiers, each emitting hot or cool moisture (or both) in different ways. Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

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,” says 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.

SKIP AHEAD Types of humidifiers | How we picked the best humidifiers | The best humidifiers in 2024 | How to shop for a new humidifier

Selected.Our top picks

  • Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier
    Best cool-mist humidifier
    Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier
    $66.99
    $92.95
    Amazon
  • Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
    Best warm-mist humidifier
    Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
    $undefined
    $42.99
    Target
  • Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
    Best large room humidifier
    Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
    $89.00
    $99.99
    Amazon
  • Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
    Best budget humidifier
    Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
    $39.99
    $49.99
    Amazon
  • Venta LW25 Airwasher
    Best high-end humidifier
    Venta LW25 Airwasher
    $349.99
    $399.99
    Amazon

Types of humidifiers

There are four main types of humidifiers, each using a different method to produce hot or cool moisture (or both) into the air, according to our experts.

Cool-mist humidifiers

Cool-mist humidifiers can help reintroduce moisture into your home by pumping 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, says Cheung. 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,” says Cheung, adding that she prefers this type because it doesn’t have a filter that needs to be replaced.

Warm-mist humidifiers

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 say users should avoid sitting too close to steam vaporizers and avoid putting them in children’s rooms since they can get very hot.

How we picked the best humidifiers

“The best humidifier is the one that you will use and maintain regularly. When shopping for a new humidifier, our experts say to consider the following factors:

  • 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.

The best humidifiers in 2024

Below, are some top-rated humidifiers to consider, all of which align with our experts’ guidance.

Best overall cool-mist humidifier: Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier

Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier

$66.99
$92.95
$60.99
$69.95

This cool mist, ultrasonic 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. Plus, it has 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

Best affordable ultrasonic humidifier: Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

$39.99
$49.99
$39.99
$39.99

This humidifier’s lightweight design — 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, and a 4.4-star average rating from more than 103,000 reviews on Amazon.

Water capacity: 0.4 gallons | Run time: Up to 25 hours | Room size: Up to 250 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes

Best affordable evaporative humidifier: Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier

Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier

$53.57

If you’re looking for a cool-mist humidifier to put in your child’s room, this budget-friendly Vicks 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 says. It also 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

Best cool-mist humidifier for large rooms: Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

$89.00
$99.99
$99.99

This ultrasonic humidifier from Levoit includes dual-temperature control, which means you can set a cool or warm temperature. 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,” says Cheung. The Levoit LV600HH has 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

Best portable humidifier: CVS Health Portable Humidifier

CVS Health Portable Ultrasonic Humidifier

$29.99

If you’re looking for a humidifier to take with you on-the-go, this portable option is about the size and weight of an empty wine bottle. “I’ve had it for years at this point, and it’s a very good budget option,” says NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe 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 notes. However, “it’s just enough that the air is not super dry, which is all I need,” she says.

Water capacity: About 0.2 gallons | Run time: Under 8 hours | Room size: Under 400 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: No

Best smart ultrasonic humidifier: Levoit 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier

Levoit 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier

$79.99
$79.99
$79.99

This top-fill humidifier from Levoit is a great option for large rooms at a decent price point, according to our experts. CNBC Select editor Benji Stawski says 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. The Levoit 300S has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 21,700 reviews on Amazon.

Water capacity: 1.6 gallons | Run time: Up to 60 hours| Room size: Up to 505 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes

Best energy efficient evaporative humidifier: Vornado EVDC300 Energy Smart Evaporative Humidifier

Vornado EVDC300 Energy Smart Evaporative Humidifier

$79.95
$89.99
$79.95
$89.99

Whether you try theon-gallon tank version of this Vornado model or upgrade to the two-gallon version (which humidifies up to 750 square feet), its Energy Smart Mode uses as little as one 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

Best high-end ultrasonic humidifier: Homvana Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

Homvana Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

$99.99

Multiple experts recommend 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. Plus, it 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-star 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

Best high-end evaporative humidifier: Venta LW25 Airwasher

Venta LW25 Airwasher

$349.99
$399.99
$349.99

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

Best ultrasonic facial humidifier: Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier

Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier

$49.95
$59.95
$60.00
$59.95

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 . 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

Best overall warm-mist humidifier: Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier

$42.99
$49.99

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 is 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

Best two-in-one warm-mist humidifier and steam inhaler: Crane 2-in-1 Personal Steam Inhaler & Warm Mist Humidifier

Crane 2-in-1 Personal Steam Inhaler & Warm Mist Humidifier

$52.46
$59.99
$52.46
$34.99
$39.99

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 from 2,900 reviews on Amazon.

Water capacity: 0.5 gallons | Run time: Up to 8 hours | Room size: Up to 250 sq. ft. | Automatic shutoff: Yes

Best affordable warm-mist humidifier: Honeywell HWM845 Warm Mist Humidifier

Honeywell HWM845 Warm Mist Humidifier

$35.99
$39.99

Cheung says 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,” she says. 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

How to shop for a new humidifier

Whether you’re looking for your first humidifier or want to upgrade your current model, our experts highlight the different types of humidifiers, along with several features to keep in mind below.

  • 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. The one you choose depends on your own space and needs. For instance, warm-mist humidifier models are usually quieter but can get too hot for 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, says Cheung.
  • 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 say.
  • 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 one liter to six gallons, which would be sufficient for a 3,600-square-foot home. A two-gallon humidifier will usually run for 12 or more hours on low, but a one-liter humidifier 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 between one and three gallons is needed. A large room of over 1,000 square feet should have a humidifier with a tank size of more than three 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 NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without 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.

Why trust NBC Select?

Mili Godio is an editor at NBC Select who covers a variety of home and kitchen products, including space heaters, washable rugs and laundry stain removers. Ashley Morris is an associate SEO reporter for NBC Select; Lauren Levy is a former NBC Select contributor. For this article, they spoke to two dermatologists about the benefits of humidifiers,? including tips on how to shop for the best ones. They also compiled their recommendations, along with top picks from NBC Select staff.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

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