Humidifiers offer many benefits: They can ease cold symptoms and congestion by adding moisture to the air, which can also help alleviate dry nasal passages and skin, especially in winter months. Your houseplants will love the extra moisture too.
That said, humidifiers can be loud, messy to fill, and difficult to clean—and shopping for the best one for you can be overwhelming because of the sheer number of makes, models, and extra features available.
To find the best humidifier, we tested 11 models in a climate-controlled chamber, running them for three hours to see how much they raised the relative humidity. Additionally, we looked at efficiency, noise, and ease of cleaning. After testing, we found that the Levoit Classic 300S (available at Amazon for $79.98) was the Best Overall for most people because of its mist level, value, and power for your money.
If you're looking for a humidifier with a nightlight and a great design, we’d suggest the Honeywell HUL430(available at Amazon). Finally, for people looking to keep a room humidified year-round, check the highly efficient Vornado EV100(available at Amazon).
Here are all the humidifiers we tested ranked, in order:
Levoit Classic 300S
Type: Cool mist humidifier
Water tank capacity: 1.59 gallons
Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.5 x 13.4 inches
The Levoit Classic 300S lived up to its reputation with an easy-to-use experience, quiet operation, and high-power humidity. Its reservoir holds about two gallons of water. During our three-hour test run, it used about 2.5 pints of water. This rate translates to 16 hours of continuous running at full steam.
In addition to its staying power, the 300S brings the humidity. On average, it raised the humidity by 29 percent—the second-highest score of all the humidifiers we tested. The 300S was almost whisper-quiet. People who run a humidifier while they sleep will also like the relatively dim display and lack of superfluous lights.
The Levoit Classic 300S has plenty of usability perks, as well. It has a no-spill fill system that you fill from the top, a huge boon if you plan on constantly running your humidifier. Best of all, the 300S is a smart humidifier. From the free app, you can start, stop, and create schedules from your phone. You can even command this model with your voice via your Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Overall, we think the Levoit Classic 300S is the best humidifier for most people. It’s quiet and small enough to go on a bedside table without disturbing you. Yet, the test results show that it can easily humidify a large room. Whatever your needs, we think this humidifier can accommodate them.
The Honeywell HUL430 is the sports car of the humidifier world—it has a handsome design and high output. But like a sports car, the HUL430’s output means it’s short on endurance.
We weighed the HUL430 before and after testing and calculated that this humidifier can run for 14 hours on the highest setting. You’ll get a lot of mist for that water consumption. In our testing chamber, this Honeywell raised the humidity 28 percent over a three-hour period.
Honeywell has also put a lot of thought into the usability of the HUL430. The tank was easy to remove and fill, with a handle built into the top. It also comes with a well-received nightlight.
Overall, if you’re looking for an attractive and powerful piece of humidifying machinery, look no further than the Honeywell HUL430.
Vornado is probably more famous for making fans, but the company also produces a mean humidifier. Efficiency is the word of the day when it comes to the EV100. During testing, it used only 0.7 pints over three hours. We did the math, and that means this humidifier can run for over 32 hours on its max setting.
However, we did have some gripes with this unit. Evaporative models have two drawbacks. First, evaporative humidifiers rely on a fan to work, which is great if you like white noise, but annoying if you crave silence. Second, evaporative humidifiers don’t produce any visible mist. Our sensors did show that the EV100 raised the humidity in the room by 19 percent, but some of our testers did not find it as pleasing as the ultrasonic humidifiers or warm misters.
If you need to humidify a room constantly, for whatever reason, the Vornado EV100 is worth checking out.
Sometimes you want a cool mist to battle a dry climate and other times you want warm steam to help soothe you. The Levoit LV600HH deserves a major nod for providing both. Its 1.9-gallon tank allows it to run for up to 17 hours at its max settings. In our test chamber, the LV600HH raised the relative humidity up 38.5 percent, the highest of any unit we’ve tested.
Aside from the ability to output a lot of humidity, this humidifier can also distribute essential oils for aromatherapy. So whether you’re dealing with a summer cold or enduring the dryness of winter, the Levoit LV600HH has a setting for you. It even has a dual nozzle at the top so you can send mist in two different directions.
Combine all these features with quiet operation, and you have a real crowd-pleaser.
The Baby Dream Machine is the multitool of the humidifier world. It’s a five-in-one tool: a red light, night light, white noise machine, humidifier, and oil diffuser. The design and features of the Baby Dream Machine divided testers on whether it filled us with delight or dread.
Our feelings about red light and bear head aside, this jack-of-all-trades did not master the art of humidifying. In the three-hour test run, the sensors we placed 5 feet away registered only a 3 percent uptick in humidity.
While the Baby Dream Machine didn’t crush the humidity test, Reviewed parenting editor said she adored the sound machine and oil diffuser options when she was feeling under the weather.
The Vicks Ultrasonic Cool Mist V5100NS has a unique trick up its sleeve. The V5100NS is compatible with Vapopads, filling the room with a pleasant smell that can help provide relief from cold symptoms.
However, after analyzing all the test results the V5100NS falls into the middle of the pack. It has a large 1.2-gallon tank, but it can only run for 15 hours on its max settings before needing a refill. Our sensors showed that it raised the humidity in the test chamber by 24 percent.
If you only bust out the humidifier when you’re feeling unwell, the Vicks Ultrasonic Cool Mist V5100NS is worth checking out. Otherwise, there are better picks out there.
The Babymoov Hygro+ provides humidity, oil diffusing, and mood lighting. That’s a lot of tools in a tiny package. Unfortunately, the compact nature is one of the drawbacks.
Our testing shows that while the Hygro+ is going at full steam, it only has enough capacity to run for about 10 hours. While it was going, we measured a 29 percent increase in humidity after three hours of operation—tied for second place in the rankings.
The Hygro+ is on shakier ground when talking about the fit and finish. During testing, it spilled a good amount when removing the tank, and the connection between the tank and the base felt weak.
Lalo x Canopy is a no-mist humidifier that touts aromatherapy and cleanliness. It uses evaporative technology so it’s highly efficient. We calculate the 0.6-gallon tank will last nine hours on the highest settings. Another plus is that the unit is made from material that resists mold and has an antibacterial filter. The whole tank is also dishwasher safe.
The Lalo x Canopy has a lot of pros, but also found drawbacks. The test results show after three hours of continuous operation on the maximum setting, this unit only raised the humidity of the test chamber by 15.9 percent. Results like that put it in the bottom three humidifiers that we’ve tested.
While handling the Lalo x Canopy, we also found that it doesn’t feel like it's solidly put together. Combining all these issues together, this humidifier has way too much style over substance.
The Safety 1st Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier is a staple in the affordable humidifier world. Because it’s lightweight, has a small footprint, and is easy to use, the Safety 1st is ideal for people who want to test out a humidifier. However, the small capacity means it doesn’t have a lot of staying power.
Going full bore, we estimate the Safety 1st will run for a little over seven-and-a-half hours. It’s fairly powerful, increasing the test chamber’s humidity by 27 percent. Due to its limited number of features and low water capacity, however, the Safety 1st is placed toward the back of the pack.
AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier is a dorm room purchase. Its 3.8-pint capacity means it can run for about seven-and-a-half hours at full steam. Many consumers will find that acceptable, but its low moisture output might give them pause. Our sensors showed that the AquaOasis raised the test chamber’s average humidity by only 15 percent after three hours. That’s the second-lowest of all the units we tested.
Our testers found this humidifier to be noisy and a pain to handle. Sharp edges on poorly molded plastic left a literal impression. Overall, we’d give the AquaOasis a pass if you’re looking to use your humidifier regularly.
The Fridababy 3 in 1 is a humidifier, oil diffuser, and nightlight. There’s not much else to say. It provided a low output, raising the test room’s humidity by 16.5 percent—the third lowest on our list. Overall, there are better humidifiers out there, including those that can provide light and diffuse essential oils.
Hello, I'm Jon Chan, senior lab manager at Reviewed. The testing team–Beckett Dubay, Michael Elderbee, Dr. David Ellerby, and I–wanted to find out which humidifier is worth your money. Between us, we've reviewed everything from space heaters to shop vacs.
To test humidifiers, we filled their tanks with water and weighed the units. We then placed each of them in a climate-controlled chamber and ran them on their highest setting for three hours. Sensors placed to either side at a distance of 5 feet recorded changes in the environment. After three hours, we weighed the tanks again to figure out their water usage.
Additionally, we evaluated how easy each model was to use, move, fill, and clean. (Note: Many are not dishwasher safe.)
What to Consider When Buying a Humidifier
Simply put, humidifiers add moisture to dry air. How they do so varies depending on the type of humidifier. But there are a number of other differences in humidifiers you should be aware of when shopping for one.
Types of humidifiers
We tested basic types of humidifiers, including those with ultrasonic and warm mist settings, and evaporators. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers: These models are virtually silent, efficient, and are among the most popular on the market. They work by vibrating a ceramic plate very quickly. The high frequency turns the water into a fine mist that is cool to the touch. Ultrasonic models work best as personal units. They tend not to be powerful enough to cover a lot of square footage.
Warm mist humidifiers: These humidifiers are pretty basic: They boil water, and the resulting steam is piped out through the top via a fan. Warm misters tend to be the most effective humidifiers, covering more square footage and outputting more moisture. However, this high-powered method makes them unsafe around small children and they can increase a room's temperature to uncomfortable levels.
Evaporators: As the name suggests, evaporators work by evaporating water into the air. A fan circulates air over the reservoir. These models make a bit of noise, but if you like white noise while you sleep, you may find it soothing. If you have mineral-rich water in your area, you might want to get an evaporator. The models we tested had filters to prevent white dust from forming.
Water Tank Capacity
As you might guess, smaller humidifiers will generally run out of steam (pun intended) faster than those with larger tank capacities (although it depends somewhat on the settings you choose on the humidifier itself). However, if you're looking for a more portable humidifier, those with smaller tanks can be refilled faster and are easier to carry.
If you just plan on making a humidifier a fixture in larger rooms or open areas, a larger humidifier with a higher capacity will probably be a good fit. For those times when you plan on sharing a humidifier between multiple bedrooms, though, consider getting a smaller humidifier (or even multiple smaller humidifiers).
Efficiency is important, as well. While our top pick, the Levoit Classic 300S (available at Amazon for $79.98) advertises that it can run for 60 hours, our tests found that it could only run for 16 on its highest setting without refilling. That said, if it wasn’t on its highest setting, it could go longer.
When looking for a humidifier, consider the size of the rooms you plan to use it. Some are better for personal use, while others are appropriate for medium size or larger rooms. For instance, the Levoit LV600HH advertises that it can easily handle spaces as large as 753 square feet.
What you’re looking for beyond moisture in the air can help determine what humidifier is right for you. Some can be used as nightlights while others can serve as essential oil diffusers. For people who only use a humidifier when they’re sick, the Vicks Ultrasonic Cool Mist V5100NS can be used with Vapopads. Others use a UV light to sanitize water. There are so many features with humidifiers that you should be able to meet your specific needs.
What to Know About Humidifiers
How to Clean a Humidifier
Humidifier cleaning instructions don't vary much from model to model. Here are some things you can do to keep your humidifier running properly and safely.
Use a bit of distilled white vinegar to regularly descale the water reservoir. Just add vinegar to the tank, shake it, and rinse. With more intense cleaning, a long-necked brush can help break up anything stuck on the sides.
Most ultrasonic humidifiers work by having the reservoir drain into a base that features wick filters, drawing water upward. A fan then blows air through these filters, sending moist air into the room. The base, fan, and filters are the trickiest parts to clean, so follow your humidifier's instructions.
An old toothbrush can be effective at getting into the small areas, especially around and under the little ridges of the base where water can get stuck and promote bacterial growth.
The hardest part to clean is the fan in the base. These tend to collect dust over time, which can lead to increased noise. The fans are usually not accessible without a screwdriver. A can of compressed air, however, may be able to blow much of it away without disassembling the humidifier.
What is the White Dust in my Humidifier?
White dust forms when you put hard water into a humidifier without a filter. The minerals get pulled up into the mist and come back down again as dust. You can prevent white dust from forming by using distilled water that can be found at any large supermarket.
Which Humidifier is Best for Congestion?
All humidifiers can help with congestion by preventing the air from becoming too dry. When the air is properly humidified, the moisture will help prevent and heal built up mucus. The majority of humidifiers on the market are cool mist, but which humidifier is best for your congestion is largely based on personal preference.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.