Heating systems are blamed for dry indoor air, but the real culprit is the cold in winter. And a humidifier can restore the climate balance in a dry room.
Cold air is drier than warm air because it contains less water vapour. When that cold air enters your home through unsealed cracks — or open exterior doors — the resulting dryness can make you feel less comfortable. Among other things, your skin can start to itch, your nails can crumble and even your lips can bleed.
A good humidifier can help prevent or reduce this nuisanceAmerican Academy of Dermatologysay. And he can do even more. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a humidifier that emits cool air -- like most CR test models -- can help reduce swelling in your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe when you have a cold. Higher humidity helps reduce static electricity -- the source of those unsightly carpet bumps. It can even help keep your belongings, such as leather goods and wooden furniture, in good condition.
What is the correct humidity in the room? According to Energy Star, the ideal humidity for your home is between 30 and 50 percent. In colder regions it should be between 30 and 40 percent during the heating season to prevent condensation on the windows. Excessive moisture can promote the growth of mold, bacteria and mitesMayonnaise Clinicsay. You want to find the right balance and a humidifier can help with that.
But with so many models, how do you decide which one?humidifiersuitable for your home? Read on to learn more about the types of humidifiers available, advice on choosing a humidifier for your room size, and factors to consider when making a purchase.
How CR tests humidifiers
At the Consumer Reports Humidifier Lab, we evaluate models based on six criteria: moisture performance, comfort, noise, energy efficiency, humidistat accuracy, and hard water performance.
Our moisture release tests are performed in a room set at 22°C and 30% RH, which is the industry standard for testing humidifiers. Manufacturers usually specify that their humidifiers are designed for a specific room size or area. So we measure the outgoing humidity of the humidifier and calculate how well it humidifies a certain area.
We also evaluate how comfortable it is to use a humidifier to prevent the growth of bacteria. We measure the noise (in decibels) of a humidifier running at full speed. Some are louder than others, and if you're using a humidifier in your bedroom, steer clear of noisy models that can disrupt your sleep.
Testers calculate the amount of energy each model uses to release a gallon of water into the air. Our Humidistat Accuracy Test measures how well each humidifier achieves and maintains a certain humidity level.
Finally, we test the humidification performance of the humidifier with hard water. We do this test because minerals dissolved in hard water can clog the humidifier and reduce moisture output.
Types of humidifiers
Stationary and console (floor standing) humidifiers are divided into warm, cool, or dual mist models that can produce both warm and cool mist. In our tests, humidifier prices ranged from just under $20 to $800.
Consumer Reports is not currently testing whole-house humidifiers. "However, if your home is heated with a forced air system, this is a great option," says Misha Kollontai, who conducts humidifier testing at CR. Appliances throughout the house have access to the oven's air ducts and are connected to the water supply. They usually require professional assembly.
"These systems are designed to keep all the heated air in your home at a comfortable humidity level," says Kollontai. "They require much less maintenance than portable devices."
Cool mist humidifier
Most humidifiers sold are cool mists. If you have a cold, according to the Food and Drug Administration, a cold mist humidifier can help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and make breathing easier.
There are two types of cold mist humidifiers in our review: evaporative and ultrasonic. Evaporative models use a fan to push air through the wet wick, and the air cools by absorbing moisture from the wick. Replacing the fuses usually costs between $10 and $20, depending on the model. Ultrasonic humidifiers use an atomizer, a small vibrating membrane, to create a cool mist. Since there is no fan, ultrasonic models are usually quieter. Most of the humidifiers in the CR tests are cool or dual mist humidifiers, giving you the choice between cool or warm mist. Prices range from $19 to $800.
Reviews of humidifiers
Warm mist humidifier
Warm mist humidifiers, also known as vaporizers, are usually the least expensive option. They use a heating element to bring the water to a boil and produce a warm mist, which consumes more energy than cold mist models. But as the temperature drops, you may want a warm mist to hover around your home, not a cool one. However, warm mist models can cause nasal passages to swell and make breathing difficult. Therefore, according to the FDA, they should not be used to relieve cold symptoms.
CR does not recommend using the Warm Mist Humidifier near children as the humidifier tank contains hot water which could cause burns if the humidifier tips over or leaks. The prices of the models we tested range from about $15 to nearly $300.
Reviews of humidifiers
The best humidifier for the size of the room
To determine the size of humidifier you need, first measure the area of the room. Humidifiers in ourThe sentenceare organized by the size of the room or area they are intended for, ranging from personal humidifiers that can humidify up to 25 square feet to consoles measuring 1,000 square feet or more.
For small to medium-sized rooms, stationary humidifiers are the most affordable option, but their small tanks require frequent refilling. Console models are best suited for large rooms, as they generate a lot of humid air. They also have larger water tanks, so fewer refills are required. However, due to their size and weight, they can be difficult to maneuver when fully loaded.
Buying tips for humidifiers
Think where it will go.You no longer have to find the right humidifier for your room and simply choose the largest humidifier available. This is not a good idea. You'll end up with too much moisture in the air, which can build up and cause allergic reactions to dust mites and mold, study findsAmerican Asthma and Allergy Foundation. Only buy a humidifier with the necessary humidification capacity.
Ease of use is also important.You need a humidifier that is easy to move around, whether it's a tabletop or freestanding model. For evaporative humidifiers, provision should be made for easy and inexpensive wick replacement. How often you need to replace the humidifier depends on the model and how often you use the humidifier. Look for easy-to-use controls and easy-to-read humidity and setting displays. You can see how user-friendly the humidifiers are in our tests based on the comfort score of a model.
A humidistat helps.Nearly half of the humidifiers in our reviews have a humidistat that turns off the device when it reaches a set humidity level - most are humidifiers designed for large spaces. We note which models have a hygrostatFull view of our reviews. If your humidifier doesn't have one, buy a hygrometer to check the humidity in your room. Prices start under $10.
Think about how much effort it takes to clean.Some humidifiers are easier to clean than others. So be sure to check the comfort rating for each model in our humidifier reviews to find out what you want to agree to when choosing a model. In general, you should empty, rinse, and dry your humidifier daily; Follow the manufacturer's instructions for routine cleaning.
"If the humidifier is not properly cleaned, microorganisms can grow in the tank, become airborne and potentially cause respiratory problems," said Ashita Kapoor, CR's deputy director of product safety. Always clean your humidifier before first use, as well as at the start of humidifier season, says Kapoor.
More about humidifiers
Watch our video below to learn more about humidifiers.
brands of humidifiers
Reviews of CR humidifiers cover over 30 brands. Here's a look at some of them.
Aircare offers single-room and whole-home humidifiers in a wide price range. They are sold at Ace Hardware, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, and Lowe's.
Air Innovations humidifiers are sold at several retailers, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, QVC, and Wayfair.
Boneco manufactures everything from personal humidifiers to consoles at a wide range of prices. You can find them at several retailers, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, and Target.
Known for its heaters and fans, Comfort Zone offers a small selection of affordable humidifiers sold by Amazon and Home Depot.
In CR Reviews, you'll see a range of Crane humidifiers, including the company's Adorable line, which includes Hippo, Monkey, and Penguin.
CVS brand humidifiers are inexpensive; They are sold in CVS stores and on the CVS website.
Colorful designs and innovative features have made Dyson vacuum cleaners, fans, heaters and humidifiers captivating consumer attention despite their high prices. Dyson sells its humidifiers on its website; They can also be found in large stores.
Essick specializes in whole home humidifiers and consoles.
Known for its line of wellness products, HoMedics sells humidifiers at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Macy's, and Target.
The well-known Honeywell brand offers whole-home appliances and humidifiers for desktop computers. They are sold in large stores.
Often associated with fans, Hunter also offers a small line of affordable humidifiers.
SPT offers a range of models sold on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Home Depot.
Stadler Form humidifiers impress with their stylish design and are sold on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot and Target.
Vicks, a well-known brand, offers a wide range of humidifiers that are widely marketed.
The Vornado brand is known for its radiators and fans. Their humidifiers can be found at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Kohl's.
Well, at Walgreens, humidifiers are generally inexpensive. They are available at Walgreens stores and on the company's website.
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Choose cool mist or warm mist (or both)
Cool mist humidifiers don't boil the water (they just vaporize it), so they are more energy efficient and don't present the burn risk and fire hazard issues of warm mist models.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally small and have the fewest parts, thereby making them the easiest to clean. They usually consist of just a water reservoir, a water cap, and the base. All of these pieces are simple to clean with a damp cloth.What is difference between cool mist and warm mist humidifier? ›
A warm mist humidifier heats water to produce steam that humidifies the air. A cool mist humidifier releases tiny water droplets into the air.What are the health drawbacks of humidifiers? ›
Dirty humidifiers can especially cause problems for people with asthma and allergies. But even in healthy people, dirty humidifiers have the potential to trigger flu-like symptoms or even lung infections when the contaminated mist or steam is released into the air.Is distilled or purified water better for humidifiers? ›
There is no doubt that distilled water is the best water for your humidifier. Your humidifier will require less upkeep, smell better, and it may even extend the life of your machine. It is also healthier as it will not release mold or mineral dust into the air.How powerful of a humidifier do I need? ›
On average, a tightly sealed home of 1,500 square feet should require a humidifier output of 3.2 gallons per day. An average home of the same size would need a humidifier output of 5.5 gallons per day, while a loose home would need 7.0 gallons per day.Should humidifier be 50% or 60%? ›
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the best indoor relative humidity falls between 30% and 50%, and it should never exceed 60%. Other studies suggest 40% to 60% is a better range.What humidifier is best for cough and congestion? ›
Warm mist humidifiers tend to work well for easing symptoms like congestion that come with a cold or allergies. However, if you have a child at home, it's safer to use a cool-mist humidifier. While they might not be as effective, they don't have hot water that can cause burns.How do I keep my humidifier bacteria free? ›
- Use distilled or demineralized water. ...
- Change the water often. ...
- Keep the area around the humidifier dry. ...
- Change the filter in your central air conditioning and heating system regularly. ...
- Clean the humidifier regularly. ...
- Replace the humidifier when necessary.
A humidifier with a filter is more efficient and healthier than one without because it prevents the release of contaminants into your air. It traps dust particles, keeping moisture in your room as well as improving air quality. Furthermore, a humidifier without a filter will not last as long.
The water you use to fill your tank could also cause issues. Both the CPSC and the EPA recommend filling your humidifier with distilled water—not tap—to keep potentially harmful microorganisms out of the air you breathe.Can I use tap water in humidifier? ›
Many people automatically use tap water in a humidifier as it is easy and accessible but this does not come recommended by manufacturers. This is because tap water contains many invisible minerals, including magnesium, which can create buildup in your humidifier, resulting in limescale and mould.How close should a humidifier be to your bed? ›
Specifically, we recommend that you keep your humidifier at a distance of around 3 feet from your bed – although there's no inherent harm in placing it closer, if you're restricted on room. This distance is recommended for a variety of reasons.What are the pros and cons of cool mist humidifier? ›
They're also more effective in the treatment of colds because they can shrink nasal passages. One drawback is that cool mist humidifiers are a bit noisier, which can be an issue for light sleepers — plus, the cool mist of air isn't ideal during cold weather months.Can sleeping with a humidifier be bad? ›
The short answer is yes: it is healthy to sleep with a humidifier in your room. Sleeping with a humidifier can have several health benefits, even if you don't have asthma.Is it OK to use humidifier everyday? ›
If you're monitoring the humidity levels in your home, it's relatively safe to run your humidifier around the clock. You should take special care not to leave anything running while you're out of the house. However, just because it's safe doesn't mean that it's necessary.Is humidifier good for sinus? ›
Sinusitis experts agree that adding humidity to the air with a humidifier is generally good for sinus health. "Humidifiers can help nasal congestion in that they provide for more moisture and humidity within the nose," says Mark A.Is warm or cool mist humidifier better for sinuses? ›
Warm mist humidifiers tend to work well for easing symptoms like congestion that come with a cold or allergies. However, if you have a child at home, it's safer to use a cool-mist humidifier. While they might not be as effective, they don't have hot water that can cause burns.What is the safest humidifier for bacteria? ›
Steam-based humidifier safety
The oldest and most basic type of humidifier, these create steam by boiling water. Advantages: Because these heat water to boiling, the vapor they release is germ-free.
Benefits of warm mist humidifiers
The high temperature reduces the growth of bacteria and germs, plus they don't make a lot of noise. Since humidifiers are typically used in winter, the warm mist of air can be nicer than a cold one, too.
“Cool mist humidifiers can also offer soothing relief when the airway feels inflamed while a warm mist humidifier might help break up mucus like steam does," says Neeta Ogden, MD, a medical spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).