Chances are that you’ve heard of dehumidifiers, which work to remove moisture from the air and decrease condensation and mould in the home, but what about humidifiers? Working the opposite way, these machines add humidity to the environment to ease allergies, aid breathing and generally make the home more comfortable.
In the autumn and winter months where we tend to have the heating on more, and viruses and colds run rampant, humidifiers can be an invaluable tool in keeping everyone happy and healthy. Run it in the bedroom at night to help reduce snoring, or in the home office during the summer to get rid of that hay fever-induced stuffy nose.
We’ve taken a look at the best humidifiers out there right now to see which are worth the money. You can scroll down to see what we thought, and then head over to our list of the best dehumidifiers to find a solution for every season.
The best humidifiers 2021
1. Homasy 4L Cool Mist Humidifier
Best humidifier for large rooms
Dimensions: 19.8 x 19.8 x 26.3cm
Runtime: 50 hours
Noise: from 24dB
Reasons to buy: doubles as essential oil diffuser; colour-changing light; large capacity
Reasons to avoid: no in-built humidity sensor
Our top choice for the best dehumidifier, the Homasy Cool Mist has an impressive 4.8L capacity and can run for a whopping 50-hours before running dry (on the lowest setting). On the high setting it will last 24-hours, which means that those only wanting to run the humidifier at certain parts of the day will get days out of it before having to refill.
The machine doubles as an essential oil diffuser, which means you can add a touch of your favourite scent to the top compartment and the mist will make the room smell lovely as well as helping to moisten air. It’s quiet, too, operating at 24dB, so pop in some lavender oil and you’ll have no problem drifting off.
The top fill design makes it super-simple to clean, which the manufacturer advices to do about once a week, and it’s small enough to be used on the floor or on a side table depending on your preference. It’s BPA free so fine for kids, and they’ll get a kick out of the colour-changing light, too.
2. Levoit Classic 100
Best humidifier for kids rooms
Dimensions: 21.7 x 17 x 26cm
Runtime: 24 hours
Reasons to buy: night light; 3 modes; adjustable nozzle
Reasons to avoid: can’t be used with essential oils
With auto-shut off, BPA free materials and a night light function makes this Levoit Humidifier ideal for putting in the nursey or baby’s room. There are 3 modes to choose from, altering the amount of mist the machine generates, and the nozzle can be adjusted to change the direction of output.
It’s not necessarily as quiet as others on this list (including our top pick), but at up to 30dB it should still be no problem sleeping while it operates. The night light function can also be shut off if you’re not keen, and it’s small enough to put on the bedside table or on top of a cabinet.
3. VicTsing Cool Mist Humidifier
Best budget humidifier
Dimensions: 24 x 19 x 26cm
Runtime: 12-24 hours
Noise: from 28dB
Reasons to buy: adjustable nozzle, dial instead of set modes
Reasons to avoid: can’t be used with essential oils
The most affordable humidifier on our list, the budget price tag doesn’t mean the VicTsing Cool Mist humidifier won’t do the job. The machine runs for up to 24-hours with a 2.2L tank, even though this is on the lowest setting, but will easily run for a full night without needing a refill.
The top of the VicTsing humidifier has a handy carry handle that makes it easy to move from room to room and, weighing just 800g, it’ll be no problem using is as a portable solution. This dial knob offers more variation on the level of mist the machine expels, and there’s a warning light for when you should add more water.
4. CRANE Drop EE-5301
Best humidifier for avoiding mould
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x12cm
Runtime: up to 24 hours
Noise: from 37dB
Reasons to buy: adjustable nozzle, anti-mould design
Reasons to avoid: noisy
Even if you stay on top of cleaning your humidifier regularly, you may find that the water and warmth inherent to the process will lead to unwanted mould within the machine. The CRANE Drop EE-5301 attempts to sidestep this issue with anti-microbial materials that promise to reduce bacteria by up to 99.96%.
The biggest issue with the lightweight model is the noise, which can reach 37dB and has caused some reviewers to complain. Aside from this, it’s a nice option for those who want something that takes less maintenance, and the company also produces humidifiers shaped like elephants, trains and unicorns for the young ‘uns.
5. Vicks VUL520E1 Mini Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Best desktop humidifier
Dimensions: 21.1 x 21.1 x 23.2cm
Runtime: up to 20 hours
Reasons to buy: compact, compatible with Vicks VapoPads
Reasons to avoid: small tank capacity
The Vicks humidifier may be small, but it’s mighty. Running up to 20 hours with a 1.8L capacity, it’s an ideal table top solutions. Only producing cool mist, it’s safe around kids and animals, and you can either use essential oils or Vicks’ own scented VapoPads to add a nice smell.
There isn’t an adjustable nozzle like with some other models, which knocks some points off, but it does have a dial for you to turn the humidity up or down depending on preference. The machine is recommended for rooms up to 15m2 so, if you have a small space, it’s a good choice.
Do humidifiers help with allergies/congestion/asthma?
Take one look at the claims of any humidifier and you will see that many claim to cure ills ranging from mild hay fever to asthma, flu and dry skin. As with any technology like this, results will inevitably vary, but is there any truth in these claims?
According to Healthline, allergies that cause symptoms such as nasal congestion and inflammation will indeed be relieved by greater levels of moisture in the air.
Dust mites and mould, which can also cause many people to have mild allergic reactions, also benefit from higher humidity, but thrive at levels of more than 70%. It’s important to keep levels at around 40-50% for optimal results.
Humidifiers are also touted as alternative treatment for colds and flu, which can feel worse in dry environments. Indoor heating in the winter can contribute to this discomfort, so it may be helpful to use a humidifier during the colder months if you suffer from breathing issues.
No matter what, humidifiers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria and mould from developing and causing health problems of their own. Do this with natural solutions such as vinegar, rather than bleach or other chemical cleaners.
Are humidifiers good for babies?
It is thought that humidifiers are particularly useful for new parents attempting to get their babies’ the best sleep quality possible. Like with adults, humidifiers aid breathing and reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. This is especially useful when babies and toddlers are under the weather, as they’re less able to sleep through like older kids and adults.
In general, a higher level of moisture in the air (though not over 50%) promotes better sleep for everyone, including babies.
Things to remember – you should opt for a cold mist humidifier if using close to children, and it’s important to keep you machine clean so the children aren’t breathing in bacteria from a dirty humidifier.
Are humidifiers safe?
Most humidifiers on our list are ultrasonic, coming with the option of cool or warm mist. If you opt for a warm mist humidifier, then it’s important to keep these away from unsupervised children or pets.
It is also recommended by many to use distilled or purified water in humidifiers, rather than water straight out of the tap. There is some debate on this, however, but it’s certainly true that over time tap water will help promote pink mould and mineral dust forming in the machine.
With frequent cleaning this shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, but it’s something to keep in mind if you live in an area where the tap water is particularly hard.
Which humidifier is best?
The Homasy 4L Cool Mist Humidifier tops our ranking for the best humidifier available right now, with a capacity that dwarfs other models and a runtime to match. The convenience of not having to refill as regularly, the quiet running, and the ability to add essential oils all earn it the number one spot.