The 6 Best Humidifiers For Winter
When the temperatures start to drop outside, you’ll be grateful you have one of the best humidifiers for winter to combat dry air indoors. Using a humidifier can help ease cold and allergy symptoms, sinus congestion, nosebleeds, and overall dry, chapped skin. They are also a great solution for other issues caused by overly dry air like peeling wallpaper, cracks in wood furniture and/or floors, and, as an added bonus, can help avoid static shocks.
The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for the best humidifiers for winter is that they all essentially function the same way: to boost moisture circulation indoors. Beyond that, the easiest way to narrow down which one is right for you is to keep the following criteria in mind:
Evaporative Vs. Ultrasonic:
- Evaporative: These feature an internal fan that pulls air in, passes it through a wet wick filter, and pumps it back out in the form of humidity. A key benefit is that they are self-regulating — the output of moisture automatically slows down as the air gets wetter, so there’s no risk of over humidifying your room. Though evaporative humidifiers have been described as “virtually foolproof,” there is some upkeep required: filters need to be replaced every one to three months and the tank needs to be cleaned once a week to avoid the spreading of bacteria that’s been trapped in or around the wet wick.
- Ultrasonic: Instead of a fan and filter, these ultrasonic humidifiers rely on high-frequency sound vibrations to propel a fine mist into the air. They are typically the most preferred option because they are quieter, more energy-efficient, and don’t require spending extra on filters. However, without a mechanism to help absorb mineral scale deposits, the chance for white condensation to pool around your device is much higher. One way to reduce this issue is to fill the tank with distilled or purified bottled water instead of tap water.
Cool Mist Vs. Warm Mist
- Cool mist: These disperse cooler moisture via either evaporative or ultrasonic techniques. It may seem counterintuitive to run one of these while you also have a heater or fireplace going, but a cool-mist humidifier is safer and just as effective at fighting dry air as its warmer counterpart. Keep in mind: since there’s no heat involved to kill off bacteria, they do require more frequent cleanings.
- Warm mist: These units, which are mostly all ultrasonic, work by heating water to a boil before evaporating it into steam; this process ensures bacteria is destroyed at the onset. Warm-mist humidifiers make for a cozy option for winter, but these machines and their output can become very hot, so they are not recommended for use within reach of babies or small children.
To help you pick the right device to keep your home comfortable during the frosty months, here’s a list of the best humidifiers for winter. The top picks on Amazon come in a range of sizes with a variety of features.
1. The Best Overall Humidifier For Winter: An Evaporative Cool-Mist Model That Won't Leave White Dust
Wirecutter, Popular Mechanics, and Good Housekeeping have all given this Honeywell cool-mist humidifier top honors because of its efficiency and ease of use. Its tank comes with a wide opening and a handle, making it not only easy to transport to the sink to fill, it’s also easy to clean (and dishwasher-safe). It can hold enough water to continuously— and quietly— humidify a medium-sized room (up to 400 square feet) for an entire day.
Unlike ultrasonic styles, this evaporative version requires a replaceable wick filter, which both Amazon fans and expert testers say is a worthwhile trade-off. “It never puts more moisture in the air [than] the air [can] take, so the floor around the device is never wet and [there’s] no mineral residue,” one reviewer writes. Additionally, a UV light offers protection from the formation of bacteria, mold, or fungus in the water tank. It comes in black or white, offers three speed settings, and doesn’t make any tedious beeping noises.
What fans say: “I’ve got to tell you, this is a great quality and easy to maintain humidifier. I only wish we had purchased it sooner. It’s quiet, has a large tank that’s DISHWASHER SAFE and super easy to keep clean in general, and has three different settings which is nice. Do yourself a favor and just purchase this already if you are in need of a great humidifier. I couldn’t have been more wrong about it only lasting us through one illness, look forward to relying on it for many uses.”
2. The Best Cool-Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Not only does this ultrasonic cool-mist humidifier by Pure Enrichment boast a 4-star rating across nearly 13,000 reviews, it’s also the most wished for humidifier on Amazon. Though it’s compact, the 1.5-liter tank allows it run through the night even on the highest setting. It’s also received rave reviews from experts for being one of the quietest humidifiers on the market, making it a great option for bedrooms. Operation is simple with a single-button switch that lets you toggle between settings. When the tank is empty the unit will turn off automatically.
Many users find the glowing blue night light feature to be soothing, but it can be turned off with a few taps on the button. The power indicator itself will, however, remain backlit by default— something that’s good to note if you require absolute darkness when you sleep.
What fans say: “This humidifier is so quiet I had to keep looking at it through my first night because I thought it had turned off! [...] I placed it on a tv tray my first night because I had trouble in the past with other humidifiers getting water all around it and causing mold and wood damage. I was very surprised when after three nights, there is still nothing there! It creates such a [fine] mist that it goes into the air (which is where it is supposed to go) and not all over my furniture!”
3. The Best Warm-Mist Humidifier
This Vicks warm-mist humidifier is a great option for shoppers seeking occasional relief from colds, sinus congestion, or seasonal allergies. It fills the air with warm moisture, and there’s an option to turn it into a vaporizer by adding liquid inhalants – like the Vicks VapoSteam — into a medicine cup. Several users note they have also had success adding essential oils to the cup, turning the machine into a makeshift aromatherapy diffuser. “The cup pops out easily so you can clean it and place more oil in it,” according to one reviewer.
The filter-free humidifier has a 4-liter reservoir that can run for about 12 hours before it needs refilling. It also has an auto shut-off feature and two mist settings capable of filling medium to large rooms. Wirecutter reports that among all of the warm-mist units they tested, this one “felt the sturdiest and stayed the coolest.” But still, be aware there are safety concerns with warm-mist humidifiers getting too hot to keep near small children.
What fans say: “This Vicks humidifier was really helpful throughout the whole winter it lets out a nice amount of mist and you can really tell the difference it's a great feeling waking up not as congested as before.”
4. A Hybrid Diffuser Humidifier That Releases Cool- Or Warm-Mist (& Works Great In Large Spaces)
This Levoit humidifier comes with a higher price tag, but it has advanced features that make it a worthy investment. This ultrasonic device runs quiet, is powerful enough to hydrate bigger rooms (up to 753 square feet), and gives the option of toggling between warm or cool mist. The screen displays real-time humidity levels and allows you to customize your desired moisture output to an exact percent. A remote control, an adjustable night light, and a dedicated tray for essential oils give it even more versatility. Plus, a timer lets you select your preferred operating schedule. Don’t worry if you forget to set the timer, though— like other options here, there is an auto shut-off function.
The 6-liter tank can run for more than 24 hours between refills, meaning fewer trips to and from the sink. If there’s one downside to this humidifier, it’s that it tends to leave behind white dust or puddles of mist. To avoid this, users (and the manufacturer itself) suggest using distilled water over tap and advise against keeping it directly on the floor.
What fans say: “We've tried five different humidifiers in last ten Michigan winters and this one is by far the best. We were drawn first to the innovative aesthetic then, when we looked under the hood, to the number of options in the ingenious controls. We run ours in a large, open-concept kitchen, dining, great room but we also used it in a small bedroom for a several nights and it runs whisper-quiet in both. The controls give it this wide range of options and the tank is the largest we've found. We use distilled water exclusively and have never seen a trace of ‘white dust’ or scale.”
5. The Most Travel-Friendly Humidifier
Consumer Reports awards this Hunter personal humidifier with the “Best Overall” for travel or personal use because of its excellent efficiency and low noise level. The base is lightweight and small enough that it can be packed in a suitcase, used on a desk at an office, or placed on a nightstand. Simply insert a water bottle (up to 20 ounces) upside down into the reservoir and plug it in. Users report they get about five to eight hours of moisture when running it on full blast. It’s inexpensive, comes in fun color options, and has adjustable cool-mist output options.
What fans say: “Oh good lord! thank you to whoever invented this! It is perfect for travel and for just putting on the side of your bed. I love that it just blows steam in my face!”
6. The Best Humidifier For A Nursery
Earning a solid 4.8-star rating from Amazon, this TaoTronics ultrasonic device is applauded by fans for its reliable features and excellent price. It’s an especially appealing humidifier for baby’s nursery because it’s designed to reduce water gurgling sounds, making it virtually silent. Compared to the other super-quiet cool-mist option above, there are no bright lights to potentially disturb sleep, and it has a much larger tank (6 liters) that works in rooms up to 430 square feet. Most significantly, this means you can set it and forget it for nearly two days straight— consistent moisture circulation is especially important for infants during cold-and-flu season.
When it’s time to add water, users confirm that a large screw cap opening makes it easy to refill and easy to reach inside to clean. It comes in black or white, has a rotating knob that lets you change the mist intensity, and has a an auto shut-off function.
What fans say: “Wow, this is such a great humidifier for a kids room! Love the clean, sleek look. [...] The tank is huge and it can easily hold enough water for overnight use. It’s also very quiet! My absolute favorite feature is the adjustable mist level. Usually you only get a [button] setting but this product actually has a turn button. Love it!”
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