These Highly Rated Steam Humidifiers Help Combat Dryness For Soothing Relief

Ultrasonic cool mist humidifier for home on a table

Steam humidifiers are an oh-so-soothing way to add moisture to your air. Sometimes called a warm-mist humidifier or a steam vaporizer, the best steam humidifiers should be sized to cover your desired space — whether you want a small unit for the occasional cold, or something larger that will make an impact on your home’s overall comfort.

Too much humidity can be just as problematic as air that’s too dry, which is why choosing the right output size for your space is so essential. Most portable and tabletop humidifiers can cover small to medium rooms (around 300 to 500 square feet), while a room humidifier can provide added moisture for spaces from 650 to 1,200 square feet. For large-scale solutions, you’ll likely need to invest in multiple units or install a whole-house humidifier. The ideal home humidity, according to the Mayo Clinic, ranges between 30 to 50 percent, and some humidifier models will even be able to tell you what the current humidity level is in your room.

After determining a humidifier range, choosing the right model boils down to personal preference. If you want something with extra therapeutic benefits, some units come with trays that let you add menthol pads or essential oil blends. More high-tech humidifiers offer the versatility of having warm and cool mist options, and even a remote control to toggle between them. And if you have hard water, you’ll want something that’s easy to clean when you need to tackle those mineral deposits.

Note: steam can cause burns, so all of these steam humidifiers should be used cautiously around children and pets.

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The Best On A Budget: A Portable Unit With An Essential Oil Tray

This efficient little warm mist humidifier is designed for medium-sized rooms, although no exact square footage was provided. It has a one-gallon tank and an attached essential oil cup for diffusing your favorite blend; plus, the unit has two strength settings and can run for up to 24 hours. It has the added bonus of not requiring a filter, although you may need to clean it fairly often. (For that reason, consider adding a tank cleaning capsule.) One reviewer commented: "This humidifier seems very well designed. Sturdy handle. Easy to fill from our bathroom sink faucets," adding that "this unit cranks out a lot more vapor than our older units." The illuminated power switch is easy to find in the dark, and a refill light flicks on when you need to top off the water.


The Most Versatile: A Warm & Cool Mist Humidifier For Large Spaces

This full-featured ultrasonic humidifier has a 1.5 gallon capacity (that covers up to 753 square feet), and runs for up to 36 hours. There's an essential oil tray to diffuse your favorite scents and a remote control that makes adjusting settings convenient. You can choose between warm mist or cool mist functions which makes this pick extra versatile. A built-in sensor gauges the ambient humidity and automatically handles adjustments based on your settings so your space always feels comfortable. It's ultra-quiet and shuts off automatically when it runs out of water. "Great unit," one shopper raved. "Love the fact that it will do warm or cool mist. It is great that you can select the humidity level, set it and forget it and it keeps thing just like you want it." There's no filter, but the mineral absorption pads need to be swapped out every two to four weeks depending on your water quality — the humidifier comes with three, and you can pick up a pack of ten for an extremely reasonable price.


The Most Therapeutic: A Steam Vaporizer That Works With Soothing Menthol Pads

This small steam vaporizer lacks high-tech bells and whistles, but has developed a reputation for delivering reliable results. It has a 1.5-gallon capacity that's meant for small to medium rooms (though no square footage was listed) and promises 18 to 24 hours of run time. It has a small compartment for holding Vicks VapoPads that create therapeutic vapors for up to eight hours to help relieve cough and congestion (though the VapoPads are sold separately). One shopper with a toddler reported back, "This one gives a REALLY good amount of steam. It is very quiet. It only has a small light so it doesn't bother sleepers unless even the tiniest light bothers you." And it automatically shuts off when there’s not enough water to run safely. There's no filter, so you may want to consider a small cleaning cartridge to help keep things fresh between cleanings.


The Best For Your Whole Home: A Steam Humidifier That Covers 6,200 Square Feet

This whole house steam humidifier can cover up to 6,200 square feet using the air ducts in your home. You can choose six different levels of humidity between 11.5 to 34.6 gallons of output per day, while dual indoor/outdoor sensors monitor the ambient temperature and adjust your home’s accordingly. You don't need to have purified water to install it and there's no filter to stock up on, but the steam canister will need to be replaced every few years. It also comes with installation instructions — although most reviewers cautioned that the DIY route was for seasoned power tool veterans only. "But once installed, this little baby just keeps working with almost no maintenance on my part. Just start it up at the beginning of the season and shut it down at the end of the season," one shopper noted. Another homeowner agreed that the permanent installation, "Really made a huge difference, and saves the grief and hassle of stand-alone units."