We also have recommendations for ultrasonic humidifiers, which use a vibrating diaphragm to launch microscopic droplets of liquid water into the air. In general, we prefer evaporative humidifiers because we find them less messy and less likely to over-humidify a space; however, you will need to replace the wicking filter on a semi-regular basis, and the fans might not be the best option for people who have pets or particularly dusty homes. The best one for you will be whichever one you’re actually willing to deal with and maintain.
Simple, quiet, effective, and easier to clean than any other option, the HCM-350 has consistently come out on top in several years of humidifier testing.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $62.
The evaporative Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier has been our pick since 2015. It has outperformed more than two dozen competitors in round after round of tests. And in all that time, we haven’t uncovered serious flaws in any of the nine units that Wirecutter staffers have tested across the country. That’s because the HCM-350 does almost everything right: It humidifies the air quickly, runs quietly, maintains a comfortable moisture level, and doesn’t beep or blink at night. Its durable tank is extremely easy to fill and clean, with parts that you can run through the dishwasher. Good for spaces as large as 400 square feet, the HCM-350 works fine for most bedrooms and living rooms. And because it’s an evaporative humidifier, this model can’t over-humidify the air or spread white mineral dust the way ultrasonic humidifiers can. Our only real complaint about the HCM-350—in addition to having to clean it, as you do with any humidifier—is that it requires a wick replacement every few months, which adds a small but annoying ongoing cost.
This evaporative model from Vornado isn’t quite as easy to use as our top pick, but it’s great at keeping the humidity consistent and distributing it around the room.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.
Evaporative humidifiers in general are better than ultrasonic models at preventing over-humidification, but we were particularly impressed with the Vornado EV100’s ability to maintain an unwavering humidity level for hours on end. In addition to setting the fan speed on high, low, or auto, the EV100 also gives you the option to dial in a specific humidity level—but only within the limits of the ideal humidification range of 40% to 60%. This is a nice touch, especially if you want a little more control than the simple three-notch dial on the HCM-350 but don’t want to worry about the room getting dangerously dank (which often happens with ultrasonic models). The EV100 also comes with a large cylindrical tank that’s easy to open, carry, and clean—unfortunately, though, it isn’t dishwasher safe. Like a lot of Vornado products, the EV100 has great air circulation, ensuring the moisture spreads evenly throughout the room; however, it also emits a slightly more fan-like white noise than other evaporative models we tested (although it’s not technically louder, it does sound different from what you might expect). While the Vornado is pretty great overall, the sound and lack of dishwasher friendliness prevent it from being our top pick. But if anything goes wrong with the EV100, at least it’s backed by Vornado’s five-year warranty, which is the best protection of any humidifier we’ve seen.
With two easy-to-clean tanks and a water capacity that’s easily double than that of our other picks, the HEV685W works fast and needs fewer refills. But it’s also bigger and louder than the rest.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $180.
The Honeywell HEV685W isn’t the quietest, cheapest, or most convenient humidifier we’ve tested, but it’s certainly got an edge in capacity and power, making it ideal for larger rooms. Each of the HEV685W’s two tanks can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water, for a total of 3 gallons of storage—and if one runs out, you can fill the other up without having to stop the humidifier. That’s about double the capacity of our other picks, which means less-frequent refills. The HEV685W is also one of the fastest-working humidifiers we tested: It initially raised the humidity level more quickly than any other model, before leveling off to a similar performance pattern after a half-hour of operation. Unlike the otherwise-similar HCM-350, the HEV685W lacks dishwasher-safe parts, but it’s easier than most to clean, thanks to its wide tank openings.
With a huge tank, continuous humidification, and an ability to regulate its output via a built-in humidistat, the LV600HH is great for large, very dry spaces.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.
The Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier is our pick for large spaces and exceptionally dry, demanding environments, because its powerful ultrasonic mechanism provides continuous humidification, whereas evaporative models level off once a certain humidity level is reached. Unlike most ultrasonics, the LV600HH is less likely to over-humidify a room, thanks to a built-in humidistat that’s accurate enough to regulate its output. The humidifier’s big, 6-liter/1.5-gallon tank can go more than 24 hours between refills. This model is exceptionally quiet, but like other ultrasonic models, the LV600HH has an audible hum that can be annoying if you’re sitting or sleeping within a few feet of it. And this model can occasionally leave behind a puddle of misted water or a thin layer of white mineral dust, which can also be annoying, but it’s easy to clean up or avoid.
Sleek, simple, and quiet, this analog ultrasonic humidifier works quite well—in fact, it can over-humidify a space. And it’s manageable (but not the easiest) to clean.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $66.
With a single control dial on its attractive black tower base, the Honeywell HUL430B Cool Mist Humidifier is simple but effective. By the two-hour mark in our tests, this model raised the room’s moisture level more than nearly every competitor—almost too much. (The HUL430B shares this over-humidification risk with many similar ultrasonic models that lack a built-in humidistat, as this one does.) This model stands out for its sleek design—it’s one of the few genuinely attractive humidifiers—and for being virtually silent (aside from a slight mechanical hum). The HUL430B also emits an optional gentle white glow, which we found to be rather pleasant; even more convenient is that it turns orange to let you know when the water is running low. Its 1.25-gallon tank does have one part that’s difficult to reach around, so the HUL430B is not quite as easy to clean as the Levoit LV600HH.
This straightforward humidifier lacks most features and can over-humidify a space. But it’s powerful, quiet, and easy to clean—a good option for anyone willing to compromise.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $32.
If you just need a basic humidifier that looks nice and does the job without costing too much, get the Levoit Classic 200 Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier—even though it has a tendency to over-humidify the room, like all ultrasonics. Its 4-liter tank is actually slightly bigger than the tank on the Honeywell HCM-350, with a large opening and simple rectangular shape that make it easy to clean. The Classic 200 isn’t quite as versatile as the LV600HH—it has just a single button that changes color each time you press it, to indicate the different power levels (on/low, medium, high, and then off again). It also lacks a humidistat or any other option for self-regulation. Otherwise, the Levoit Classic 200 has all of the same perks and flaws as many ultrasonic humidifiers, including quiet but buzzy operation and a slight chance of water puddling underneath.
The Venta LW25 is pricey, but it’s an exceptional performer with a unique design that requires less-frequent cleaning and refilling than competitors.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $300.
If you want an extremely effective evaporative humidifier that requires less-frequent cleaning and refilling than our other recommendations, consider the Venta LW25 Airwasher. At its current price of around $300, it is very expensive, but its high up-front cost is somewhat mitigated by its extreme energy efficiency in the long run. And in our tests, the LW25 consistently ranked high in humidification performance. Like our other evaporative picks, this model is suited to spaces that are the size of a large bedroom. Competitors require weekly cleaning. But Venta recommends that you rinse this unit every two weeks and thoroughly clean it every six months. However, despite its name, it does not wash the air particularly well; if that’s a concern for you, consider getting an air purifier.
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