The Best Humidifier

The Best Humidifier

You can choose either an evaporative or an ultrasonic humidifier. Evaporative models evaporate moisture through a wicking filter, and ultrasonic models use a vibrating diaphragm to launch microscopic droplets of liquid water into the air. In general, we prefer evaporative humidifiers, because they’re less messy. But in this guide, we have recommendations for both types.

Our pick

Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier

Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier

The best humidifier

Simple, quiet, effective, and easier to clean than any other option, the HCM-350 has consistently come out on top in several years of humidifier testing.

Buying Options

$62* from Amazon
$62 from Walmart

*At the time of publishing, the price was $63.

The evaporative Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier has been our pick since 2015. It has outperformed more than two dozen competitors in round after round of tests. And in all that time, we haven’t uncovered serious flaws in any of the nine units that Wirecutter staffers have tested across the country. That’s because the HCM-350 does almost everything right: It humidifies the air quickly, runs quietly, maintains a comfortable moisture level, and doesn’t beep or blink at night. Its durable tank is extremely easy to fill and clean, with parts that you can run through the dishwasher. Good for spaces as large as 400 square feet, the HCM-350 works fine for most bedrooms and living rooms. And because it’s an evaporative humidifier, this model can’t over-humidify the air or spread white mineral dust the way ultrasonic humidifiers can. Our only real complaint about the HCM-350—in addition to having to clean it, as you do with any humidifier—is that it requires a wick replacement every few months, which adds a small but annoying ongoing cost.

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Runner-up

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier

An almost-as-good evaporative option

The SPT SU-9210 performs as well as our top pick, but a few unfortunate design elements make it far less easy to live with.

Buying Options

$71 from Amazon
$60 from Home Depot

If the Honeywell HCM-350 is unavailable, the SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier is our runner-up pick. This evaporative humidifier performs very similarly to the Honeywell and is almost as easy to clean. It also adds a timer and a digital humidistat (which accurately measures humidity, helping to regulate the output). However, the SPT SU-9210 has annoying beeping buttons and a blindingly bright display that never shuts off, meaning it’s not as well-suited to a bedroom or a nursery, and its tank threatens to tip over when you’re filling it. Like the HCM-350, the SU-9210 reaches its effectiveness limit in a room measuring about 400 square feet.

Also great

Honeywell HEV685W

Honeywell HEV685W

A bigger, faster, louder evaporative humidifier

With two easy-to-clean tanks and a total water capacity that’s two to three times larger than that of our other picks, the HEV685W works fast and requires less-frequent refills. But it’s also bigger and louder than the rest.

Buying Options

$93* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $114.

The Honeywell HEV685W isn’t the quietest, cheapest, or most convenient humidifier we’ve tested, but it’s certainly got an edge in capacity and power, making it ideal for larger rooms. Each of the HEV685W’s two tanks can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water, for a total of 3 gallons of storage—and if one runs out, you can fill the other up without having to stop the humidifier. That’s about double the capacity of our other picks, which means less-frequent refills. The HEV685W is also one of the fastest-working humidifiers we tested: It initially raised the humidity level more quickly than any other model, before leveling off to a similar performance pattern after a half-hour of operation. Unlike the otherwise-similar HCM-350, the HEV685W lacks dishwasher-safe parts, but it’s easier than most to clean, thanks to its wide tank openings.

Also great

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

An ultrasonic humidifier for super-dry spaces

With a huge tank, continuous humidification, and an ability to regulate its output via a built-in humidistat, the LV600HH is great for large, very dry spaces.

Buying Options

$90 from Amazon
$90 from Home Depot

The Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier is our pick for large spaces and exceptionally dry, demanding environments, because its powerful ultrasonic mechanism provides continuous humidification, whereas evaporative models level off once a certain humidity level is reached. Unlike most ultrasonics, the LV600HH is less likely to over-humidify a room, thanks to a built-in humidistat that’s accurate enough to regulate its output. The humidifier’s big, 6-liter/1.5-gallon tank can go more than 24 hours between refills. This model is exceptionally quiet, but like other ultrasonic models, the LV600HH has an audible hum that can be annoying if you’re sitting or sleeping within a few feet of it. And this model can occasionally leave behind a puddle of misted water or a thin layer of white mineral dust, which can also be annoying, but it’s easy to clean up or avoid.

Also great

Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier

Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier

The quietest, sleekest option we recommend

Sleek, simple, and quiet, this analog ultrasonic humidifier works quite well—in fact, it can over-humidify a space. And it’s manageable (but not the easiest) to clean.

Buying Options

$70* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

With a single control dial on its attractive black tower base, the Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier is simple but effective. By the two-hour mark in our tests, this model raised the room’s moisture level more than nearly every competitor—almost too much. (The HUL430B shares this over-humidification risk with many similar ultrasonic models that lack a built-in humidistat, as this one does.) This model stands out for its sleek design—it’s one of the few genuinely attractive humidifiers—and for being virtually silent (aside from a slight mechanical hum). The HUL430B also emits an optional gentle blue glow, which we found to be rather pleasant. Its 1.25-gallon tank does have one part that’s difficult to reach around, so the HUL430B is not quite as easy to clean as the Levoit LV600HH.

Budget pick

Levoit LV450CH

Levoit LV450CH

Basic, affordable, effective

This straightforward humidifier lacks the features of other digital ultrasonics. But it’s powerful, quiet, and easy to clean—a good option for anyone willing to give up some versatility.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $37.

If you just need a basic humidifier that looks nice and does the job, but that won’t cost you too much, get the ultrasonic Levoit LV450CH. Its 4.5-liter tank is actually slightly bigger than the tank on the Honeywell HCM-350, with a large opening and a simple rectangular shape that make it easy to clean. The LV450CH is not quite as versatile as the LV600HH—it has just a single button that changes color each time you press it to indicate the different power levels (on/low, medium, high, and then off again). Otherwise, the LV450CH has all the same perks and flaws as many ultrasonic humidifiers, such as quiet but buzzy operation and a slight chance of a puddle underneath. Like the HUL430B, the LV450CH lacks a humidistat or any other self-regulation, so it tends to over-humidify the room, especially after the two-hour mark.

Upgrade pick

Venta LW25 Airwasher

Venta LW25 Airwasher

More money, less maintenance

The Venta LW25 is pricey, but it’s an exceptional performer with a unique design that requires less-frequent cleaning and refilling than competitors.

Buying Options

$270 from Amazon
$300 from Bed Bath & Beyond

If you want an extremely effective evaporative humidifier that requires less-frequent cleaning and refilling than our other recommendations, consider the Venta LW25 Airwasher. At its current price of around $300, it is very expensive, but its high up-front cost is somewhat mitigated by its extreme energy efficiency in the long run. And in our tests, the LW25 consistently ranked high in humidification performance. Like our other evaporative picks, this model is suited to spaces that are the size of a large bedroom. Competitors require weekly cleaning. But Venta recommends that you rinse this unit every two weeks and thoroughly clean it every six months. However, despite its name, it does not wash the air particularly well; if that’s a concern for you, consider getting an air purifier.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier

Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier

The best humidifier

Simple, quiet, effective, and easier to clean than any other option, the HCM-350 has consistently come out on top in several years of humidifier testing.

Buying Options

$62* from Amazon
$62 from Walmart

*At the time of publishing, the price was $63.

Runner-up

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier

An almost-as-good evaporative option

The SPT SU-9210 performs as well as our top pick, but a few unfortunate design elements make it far less easy to live with.

Buying Options

$71 from Amazon
$60 from Home Depot

Also great

Honeywell HEV685W

Honeywell HEV685W

A bigger, faster, louder evaporative humidifier

With two easy-to-clean tanks and a total water capacity that’s two to three times larger than that of our other picks, the HEV685W works fast and requires less-frequent refills. But it’s also bigger and louder than the rest.

Buying Options

$93* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $114.

Also great

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

An ultrasonic humidifier for super-dry spaces

With a huge tank, continuous humidification, and an ability to regulate its output via a built-in humidistat, the LV600HH is great for large, very dry spaces.

Buying Options

$90 from Amazon
$90 from Home Depot

Also great

Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier

Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier

The quietest, sleekest option we recommend

Sleek, simple, and quiet, this analog ultrasonic humidifier works quite well—in fact, it can over-humidify a space. And it’s manageable (but not the easiest) to clean.

Buying Options

$70* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

Budget pick

Levoit LV450CH

Levoit LV450CH

Basic, affordable, effective

This straightforward humidifier lacks the features of other digital ultrasonics. But it’s powerful, quiet, and easy to clean—a good option for anyone willing to give up some versatility.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $37.

Upgrade pick

Venta LW25 Airwasher

Venta LW25 Airwasher

More money, less maintenance

The Venta LW25 is pricey, but it’s an exceptional performer with a unique design that requires less-frequent cleaning and refilling than competitors.

Buying Options

$270 from Amazon
$300 from Bed Bath & Beyond

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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