Find the Right Size Humidifier for Any Room

Plus, the best models from Consumer Reports' tests

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Keep Goldilocks in mind when shopping for a humidifier. You don’t want one that’s too big and releases too much moisture into a room or one that’s too small to do much good. You want a humidifier that’s just the right size.

Too little moisture can make your skin feel dry and itchy, but too much can breed dust mites and mold, and trigger allergic reactions. When a room feels clammy or there’s condensation on the windows, there’s too much moisture.

“Since high humidity leads to its own set of problems, avoid buying the largest humidifier and instead pick the one designed for the size of your space,” says Misha Kollontai, the engineer who leads Consumer Reports’ humidifier testing.

Ideally, the humidity level in your home should be between 30 and 50 percent, according to Energy Star. In colder areas during the heating season, it should range from 30 to 40 percent to prevent window condensation.

More on Humidifiers

To find the right humidifier, measure your room’s square footage. Manufacturers typically claim that their humidifiers are intended for a specific room size, which is why we measure a humidifier’s moisture output and calculate how well it humidifies the specified area.

Then zero in on our humidifier ratings. They’re organized by the room size they’re intended for, from personal humidifiers for up to 25 square feet all the way to consoles meant for 1,000 square feet or more. Most are cool mist, the most widely sold kind. A few are warm mist, also known as steam vaporizers. A handful are dual mist, capable of producing both warm and cool mist. You’ll see humidifiers from 32 brands, including Air Innovations, Boneco, Crane, Dyson, Honeywell, Vicks, and Vornado.

Here’s a look at five high-scoring humidifiers from our tests, from a lightweight portable to a console. All are cool-mist models.

For more options and all of our test results, check our humidifier ratings, and see our humidifier buying guide for shopping advice.

Tobie Stanger

I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger