Best Humidifiers of 2019

In CR's tests, the top models—for every room size—come from Boneco, CVS, Essick, Hunter, and Vicks

A humidifier generating mist
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When temperatures drop and you crank up the heat, the humidity level inside your home can quickly dip.

A good humidifier can help, adding moisture to the air and preventing or relieving dry skin. If you have a cold, a cool-mist humidifier can help shrink swelling in nasal passages and make it easier for you to breathe, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Our tests of dozens of humidifiers found that some are much better than others at pumping out the amount of moisture they’re claimed to produce. And some humidifiers are quieter, more convenient to use and clean, or use less energy.

Another factor? Matching the humidifier to the room size. Use one that’s too small and it won’t be able to maintain the humidity level you want. “A humidifier that’s too big can be a problem, too,” says John Banta, the engineer who runs CR’s tests of humidifiers. “The excess moisture can promote mold growth, enable dust mites to thrive, and trigger allergies.”

You’ll see 51 models in our humidifier ratings, organized by the room size or area they’re intended for, from personal units all the way up to consoles that humidify 1,000 square feet or more.

Most are cool mist, the more widely used type. A handful are warm mist, also known as steam vaporizers, which should not be used around children. (The humidifier tank contains hot water that can burn a child if she gets too close, or if the hot water spills.) And avoid warm mist humidifiers if you have a cold. The warm moisture can cause your nasal passages to swell, making breathing more difficult.

Here’s a look at five top-rated humidifiers—one for each size we test.

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

Travel/Personal Humidifier
Hunter QLS-03
Hunter QLS-03

    Hunter QLS-03

    CR’s take: The portable Hunter QLS-03 cool mist humidifier, meant for an area up to 25 square feet, such as a very small office, is also great for frequent travelers. It earns an Excellent rating for output, meaning it meets its claim of humidifying a room that size. A water bottle serves as the tank, and the only feature is an automatic shutoff when the bottle runs out.

    Small Humidifier
    CVS Health GUL540V1
    CVS Health GUL540V1

      CVS Health GUL540V1

      CR’s take: The CVS Health GUL540V1 cool mist humidifier is a CR Best Buy, combining impressive performance and an appealing price. It’s sold exclusively at CVS and CVS.com. It’s designed for a room up to 150 square feet, and it snags an Excellent rating in our noise tests, making it a sound choice for a small bedroom. It’s basic, with just a night-light and automatic shutoff when empty, and there isn’t a humidistat, so buy one. This inexpensive gauge, also known as a hygrometer, measures a room’s relative humidity and will help you keep your room at the humidity level you want.

      Medium Humidifier
      Vicks V5100NS
      Vicks V5100NS

        Vicks V5100NS

        CR’s take: Another CR Best Buy, the Vicks V5100NS cool mist model can humidify a room up to 400 square feet. It garners an Excellent rating in hard water output, something to consider if your water supply contains significant amounts of calcium and magnesium. They can clog the humidifier, decreasing moisture output. As for features, there’s automatic shut-off, but that’s it. And keep in mind that humidifiers can harbor bacteria, so it’s important to drain, rinse, and dry them daily. 

        Large Humidifier
        Boneco 7135
        Boneco 7135

          Boneco 7135

          CR’s take: The Boneco 7135 can humidify a large room, up to 650 square feet, earning an Excellent rating in our output tests. It has a humidistat, but it wasn’t very accurate in our tests, meaning it allowed the humidity to stay at a higher level than the set level. If you see condensation on your windows, lower the humidity setting by 5 or 10 percent. Very few humidifiers in our ratings are dual mist, meaning they can pump out cool mist or warm, but the Boneco is. It uses a heating element to create the warm moisture, using more energy, of course, than in cool mist mode. 

          Console Humidifier
          Essick MA1201
          Essick MA1201

            Essick MA1201

            CR’s take: The Essick MA1201 console cool mist humidifier is a CR Best Buy. It’s designed to cover up to 2,500 square feet, and earns a Very Good rating in our output tests. But like all the consoles we tested, it’s very noisy. That’s because unlike the other models highlighted here, the Essick uses a fan to blow cool air over a wet wick to produce moisture. Our tests found the humidistat to be fairly accurate. The humidifier automatically shuts off when empty, and there’s and empty-tank indicator. 

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            Kimberly Janeway

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