Best Cool Mist Humidifiers Reviewed – 2017 Buying Guide

Dry winter air can make your home uncomfortable. Aside from the temperature, the dry air can cause nose bleeds, and sinus issues, making your normal cold feel twice as bad. One great way that you can alleviate those issues is by using a cool-mist humidifier. A little extra humidity in the home can provide a lot of relief!

Table of Contents

Features To Consider

Humidifiers come in many shapes and sizes and are often designed to blend into your home’s aesthetic. Though, looks aren’t the only feature you should consider when comparing humidifiers. It should fit your specific space requirements, but you should also consider:

Ease of Cleaning

Part of what makes a humidifier functioning is keeping the unit clean. Therefore, finding a humidifier that’s easy to clean is a critical feature. Every day, you should drain, rinse, and dry your humidifier. Every week, you should wipe away any surface residue with vinegar, then disinfect with a bleach solution per the manufacturer’s instructions. After the vinegar and bleach treatment, rinse thoroughly. You should also follow this process before and after putting the humidifier in storage. In short, you have to have a clean machine to have healthier air quality, so a computer that’s easy to clean is a must.

Ease of Use

A humidifier is something you will use daily, so it should be easy to operate. Look for models that have bright displays showing humidity levels and settings and that have user-friendly controls. Also, if you’re comparing tabletop or console humidifiers, look for units that are easy to move around and easy to clean—can the tank fit beneath your faucet? If you are thinking about getting an evaporative model, check to see how easy it is to replace the wick as well as the replacement costs.


Not all models have this feature, but some include a humidistat, which is a device that monitors the humidity level and shuts off the humidifier once it has reached a preset level. This option is great for preventing issues like condensation. For models without a humidistat, we recommend investing in a hygrometer, which will monitor humidity levels and let you know if your room is in the recommended range.


Some models allow you to set a timer on your unit, so that your home is at a particular humidity level when you return home. While this is a convenient feature, it also has the potential to cause problems. Water that just sits in the tank for extended periods of time can start to breed microbes, so make sure you dry the tank thoroughly between uses.

Indicator Lights

When the water supply is low, and you need to clean the humidifier, there's an additional component to usability. The indicator lights are a helpful feature that can tell you when parts you need to replace (such as filters).

Digital Control Panel

A digital control panel and display give you precise measurements, allowing you to adjust your humidity more accurately than with an analog control system.

Variable Speed

Models that allow you to change the speed are helpful for a couple of reasons. One is that changing the speed helps you improve the noise level, and the other is that you have more control over how much moisture is released as well as control over power consumption.

Automatic Shutoff

The computerized shutoff feature is available on some units and how it works is that when the reservoir is empty, the unit will turn itself off. This valuable safety feature also helps reduce your energy costs.

Air-Cleaning Pre-Filters

Some units feature a filter that removes impurities such as dust, pet dander, mold, and pollen from the incoming air, thus creating cleaner humidified air.

Demineralization Cartridge

If you use hard water to fill the humidifier reservoir, a white dust can start to develop; this happens due to the water’s higher mineral content. Breathing white powder can be unhealthy over time, as it can create and aggravate respiratory issues.

UV Germicidal Light

Those who suffer from asthma or allergies may find an ultraviolet (UV) humidifier to be a good option.This type of humidifier features a UV germicidal light that is designed to kill waterborne mold, bacteria, and germs before it releases the water into the air.

Picking Your Humidifier based on Room Size

Indoor humidity should be between 30 and 50 percent, but in the winter that humidness drops dramatically, partially because that cold air only doesn’t hold moisture as well as warm air. If you run a furnace or wood stove, the air will dry out, even more, meaning you need assistance from a humidifier.

To narrow down your choices, you need to determine your room size and measure your square footage as a vast assortment of humidifier units will greet you. Depending on your room size, you may need to make some sacrifices regarding noise, efficiency, and convenience.

Small humidifiers – up to 300 square feet

For very small rooms

Medium humidifiers – 300 to 499 square feet

Tabletop and portable humidifiers are a great option for small and medium rooms, as they are the least expensive. However, the trade-off is that they have small tanks that you have to refill often. Look for models where the refill tank will fit underneath your faucet.

Large humidifiers – 500 to 999 square feet

For large rooms, you’ll want a console humidifier, which is easy to move from room to room but is greater than tabletop and portable models.

Extra-large / Whole house humidifiers – for spaces over 1,000 square feet

Large units produce more noise, so consider either investing in a quieter ultrasonic model, (instead of a fan, it has a vibrating nebulizer), or placing a cool-mist or evaporative model farther away from your sleeping area, as they can produce more noise. Extra-large console models have a large tank to match, but they can be awkward to manipulate. Find out more info about the best whole home humidifers in our detailed buyer's guide on the subject.

Cold Air Humidifier Reviews - Our 2017 Picks

Top Rated Small Room Humidifiers

Air Innovations MH-701B - Great Choice for  Bedroom

1.7 Gal. Cool Mist Digital Humidifier for Large Rooms, Up to 600 sq. ft., with Remote- Platinum
  • Permanent Ceramic Filter - Never Needs Replaced
  • Anti-Microbial Tank & Base - Freshen your space with pure, clean moisture
  • Runs Up To 96 Hours On One Tank
  • Designed to operate quietly for uninterrupted sleep
  • 5 mist settings, Rotating mist nozzle, Adjustable humidistat, and more!

The Air Innovations MH-701B is an ultrasonic humidifier designed to bring cool moisture into the air. It’s sleek design, and color options make this an excellent choice that will fit your home’s aesthetic, and it’s one of the best options for rooms up to 600 square feet.

The unit itself has a slight footprint, meaning it won’t take up a significant amount of space—it’s only 9 inches across. The humidifier functions as both a tabletop unit and a floor unit, as it has a built-in 15-inch extension nozzle that can rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to direct mist where you want it—the Air Innovations 701B also has five cloud settings. This versatile unit includes a programmable humidistat and an indicator for when the tank is empty; the humidifier has an added safety feature and will automatically shut itself off when the reservoir is empty.

When running on a quiet setting, the 1.7-gallon shell will run for up to 96 hours, and an antimicrobial plastic base and tank helps to prevent mildew, mold, and bacteria buildup; an additional health feature is the permanent ceramic filter that helps filter out water impurities. As a bonus, the unit features a programmable timer, so you can operate it when you need to. This humidifier is easy to use and has handles at the top and bottom of the tank with an extra-wide opening for easy refilling. The versatility, portability and quiet operation make this a great option for a child’s room.

Honeywell HUL520 MistMate Humidifier - Budget Friendly

Honeywell HUL520B Mistmate Cool Mist Humidifier, Black
  • Room size: small
  • Visible cool mist
  • Runs up to 20 hours per filling
  • Auto shut off when empty
  • 2 year limited warranty

The Honeywell HUL520 MistMate Humidifier is a quiet, economical option for small rooms and desktops. The ultrasonic humidifier produces a visible stream of cold mist that will make small rooms more comfortable.

The humidifier measures 8.5 inches in diameter, taking up a small amount of space on a table or desktop. The unit features variable output settings featuring an easy-to-use control knob; operating on the lowest setting will allow the humidifier to run for up to 20 hours. The Honeywell MistMate HUL250 uses ultrasonic technology, making this an extremely reticent unit, which will allow you a peaceful, comfortable day or night. The 0.5-gallon tank has a large tank opening, which makes refilling and cleaning easy tasks. For safety, the unit features an automatic shut-off that will turn off when the tank is empty, which also helps reduce energy costs. As a bonus, this humidifier comes in a variety of fun colors like red and blue.

Its compact size makes this a perfect choice for small rooms like bedrooms and offices. Combined with the low price point, Honeywell’s MistMate HUL250 is an excellent no-frills humidifier that will effectively and efficiently humidify a small room.

HoMedics UHE-CM25 Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

HoMedics Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
  • Easy to remove and fill 1 gallon tank for up to 24 hours of run time; Auto shut off protection when the unit is empty
  • Ultrasonic technology allows for virtually silent operation
  • Clean mist technology helps prevent the growth of molds and mildews on the surface of the tank
  • Runs up to 24 hours before refilling
  • Best for small to medium rooms

The HoMedics UHE-CM25 ultrasonic humidifier is a quietly operating unit. The humidifier is compact in size and won’t occupy too much space on a table or desk.

The 1-gallon tank is easy to remove and fill, but it is taller than some other models, so make sure you can fit the tank underneath your faucet; on the lowest output setting, the humidifier can operate for up to 24 hours. The unit also features antimicrobial properties that discourage bacterial growth, an important feature for cool-mist humidifiers, as they are more susceptible to bacterial development than warm mist humidifiers. If you live in an area with hard water, the HoMedics UHE-CM25 humidifier includes a demineralization cartridge, which helps reduce the volume of minerals that can disperse in the air, but you do have to clean the filter regularly and replace it periodically.

This virtually silent humidifier has four output settings and a night-light so you can make adjustments in the middle of the night if you need to, and the unit includes an automatic shutoff feature so that the machine turns itself off when the tank is empty. This option is great for bedrooms, as it is ultra-quiet and compact with the ability to turn on a small light to make adjustments at night.

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier – White
  • Ultrasonic cool mist increases air moisture for easier breathing and a good night's sleep
  • Relieves cough, cold, and flu symptoms, nasal congestion, dry cough, sinus irritation, nose bleeds, and dry skin and...
  • Recommended non-medicated alternative to over the counter cough and cold medicine
  • Clean Control Antimicrobial Material is proven to help reduce mold and bacteria growth up to 99.96%*
  • Removable 1 gallon tank easily fits under most bathroom sinks

The Crane Drop Ultrasonic cool mist humidifier comes in a confectionary array of colors and features an aesthetically-pleasing raindrop design, making this a fun addition to any small room, such as a child’s bedroom or a small office. The compact unit operates with little to no noise, and the 1-gallon tank provides up to 24 hours of cooling mist for easier breathing and a better night’s sleep.

This partially constructed humidifier with Antimicrobial plastic helps prevent the development of bacteria and mold by up to 99.96%. The manufacturer recommends daily cleaning and weekly disinfecting for the cleanest results. This stylish humidifier has an easy-to-remove tank that fits under most faucets, but it is taller than some other models, so make sure this unit will fit your sink. The tank lacks a flat bottom, so you do need to physically hold the tank in place under the sink while you refill it, which can be a minor inconvenience to some.

The accelerated technology makes Crane’s Drop humidifier operate almost silently, which makes this a great option if you’re looking for a unit to use while you or your child sleeps. The BPA-free unit also features an automatic shutoff function for safety and energy efficiency. The humidifier can help add moisture to rooms up to 250 square feet in size and provide relief from common winter ailments such as dry, itchy skin and congestion.

Top Rated Medium Room Humidifiers

Vicks V5100NS Ultrasonic Humidifier

Vicks V5100NS Ultrasonic Humidifier - 1.2 gallon capacity - Operates up to 20 hours per filing
  • Produces a superfine, cool mist
  • Perfect for your child's room to alleviate congestion
  • Whisper-quiet function

The V5100NS humidifier by Vicks is a great option for medium sized rooms up to 400 square feet. The unit utilizes ultrasonic technology, so it’s whisper-quiet, making this a good choice, if you’re looking for a humidifier to operate while you sleep. The humidifier measures 8 by 10 inches at its base, which is compact enough to fit on a bedside table.

If you live in an area with mineral-rich hard water, this humidifier has the added convenience of a demineralization filter, which filters out many of the impurities before it releases a cool, sooothing mist into the air; you don't need to replace the filter periodically replace, but replacement costs are low. The Vicks V5100NS has a 1.2-gallon tank and can run for up to 20 hours on a quiet setting. The unit does feature variable output, and you can even adjust a small dial on the top of the unit that allows you change the direction of the mist, so you can direct mist towards you and the room and away from curtains, bedding, or windows.

The humidifier is ultra-quiet, even at its highest operational setting, so you don’t have to worry about excessive noise while you, or perhaps a baby, sleeps. The tank is easy to fill and clean and the bright blue plastic is easy to see through, so you can monitor the water level quickly. Reap the benefits of a quiet humidifier and alleviate congestion and other ailments associated with dry climates.

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier

SPT SU-9210 Digital Evaporative Humidifier with 1-Gallon Tank
  • Evaporative humidification with air circulation draws dry air in and pushes moist cool air back into the room
  • Digital humidistat (35% to 85%) or continuous operation
  • Filter captures minerals and deposit - no white dust
  • LCD panel with filter dirtiness indicator
  • 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water tank

SPT’s humidifier model SU-9210 is an evaporator that draws in dry air and pushes out cool moist air. This humidifier is a particularly good choice for medium-sized rooms up to 450 square feet. The 1-gallon water tank is easy to remove and easy to fill and offers hours of comfortable, cooling air.

The SU-9210 has several standout features, including an evaporative wick doubling as a demineralization filter that helps remove any hard water impurities and mineral deposits; this will keep the unit from emitting a white powder that can be unhealthy to breathe. Another valuable feature is the digital humidistat so you can set your preferred humidity level with precision. The unit will automatically turn itself on and off to maintain the desired humidity level. Alternatively, you can set the humidifier to operate continuously. The SU-9210 has an easy-to-read LCD panel and a built-in timer, making this easy to work.

The LCD not only tells you the humidity level, but also indicates the dirtiness standings of the wick/filter, which is a handy indicator for when you need to replace the filter; the filters are inexpensive when it does come time to replace. SPT’s SU-9210 is user-friendly and easy to maintain, making this an excellent choice for a bedroom or office.

Honeywell HUT-300 Designer Series Ultrasonic Humidifier

Honeywell Designer Series Ultrasonic Humidifier
  • Soothing cool mist with style!
  • Variable moisture control for customized output control
  • Blue back-lit water window
  • Directional mist outlet
  • No filter required

For a stylish alternative to those run-of-the-mill white humidifiers, check out Honeywell’s HUT-300 ultrasonic humidifier. It has a futuristic design that would blend in nicely with a home office or adult bedroom. This particularly good choice would be for a medium-sized bedroom no larger than 400 square feet.

The rapid technology utilizes a vibrating diaphragm that produces a cooling, refreshing mist that introduces moisture into the air with no wick required. The unit has variable output options so you can change how much moisture is going into the air, and the humidifier will automatically turn off when the unit is empty. The tank size is generous, and Honeywell claims that the unit can operate for up to 48 hours on the lowest setting. While bacterial growth is always a concern, Honeywell’s humidifier has some antimicrobial properties that help reduce mold and bacteria development.

The HUT-300 looks good in any room and even features an adjustable directional mist outlet so you can direct mist in precisely the direction you want it to go—away from furniture and toward the center of the room. The humidifier also has a blue backlit window that shows you the water level for an added aesthetic touch. If you want a good-looking unit that blends into the room, look no further than the HUT-300.

Top Rated Large Room Humidifiers

SPT SU-4010

SPT SU-4010 Ultrasonic Dual-Mist Warm/Cool Humidifier with Ion Exchange Filter - Blue
  • Dual function: Warm and Cool mist
  • ION exchange filter
  • Ultrasonic generator
  • Humidity output: 400cc/hour
  • Designed for rooms up to 500 sq. ft

*The Sunpentown SU-4010 is truly one of the most versatile humidifiers, as it can provide a warm mist or cool mist and includes a demineralization filter that removes mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium before it releases the water into the air. The ultrasonic humidifier is a great year-round option for rooms up to 500 square feet.

To maximize coverage, the humidifier has two nozzles capable of 360-degree rotation, so you direct mist exactly where you want it to go. You can switch between warm mist during the winter months and cool mist during the summer for year-round comfort. You also have control over the humidity output, and this powerful machine can run for up to 10 hours on the warm mist setting on high and 12 hours on the cool mist setting. If you have space concerns, the designed to fit SU-4010 is on a narrower path, as it's approximately 6 inches wide and 13 inches long.

The 4-liter tank is easy to clean, and although it does not feature an automatic shutoff function, it does have an indicator light that displays when the tank is empty. If you need a humidifier that will work all year, SPT’s SU-4010 ultrasonic dual mist humidifier should be the one to look.

Air-O-Swiss 7135

BONECO Warm or Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier 7135
  • High Output: Up to 3.5 gallons/24 hours for rooms up to 650 sq ft
  • Auto Mode for fully automated operation
  • Whisper-quiet in operation
  • Optional warm or cool mist
  • Digital display and programmable hygrostat

The Air-O-Swiss 7135 is a digital powerhouse that supplies both warm and cold mist that provides you with a comfortable home all year. The ultrasonic humidifier uses vibrations at high frequencies to produce a fine mist that introduces moisture to the air. Due to its prompt technology, it operates at a very mute volume, making this an excellent choice for a bedroom or a large room up to 650 square feet.

A demineralization cartridge works to prevent water mist from having mineral deposits and producing the notorious fine white dust, and you can rest assured that your unit will work for extended periods of time—up to 60 hours on a soft setting. The humidifier has some antimicrobial properties and features a digital control panel with a built-in humidistat so you can set your room to the ideal humidity for your needs. The control panel is intuitive and easy to use, allowing you control over the moisture level, and power output—the unit also has a built-in timer. The full-featured panel also displays an indicator light when the tank is empty, and the unit will automatically shut off when that happens, which saves on energy costs and is an added safety feature.

The dual mist properties allow you to use the same humidifier for warm mist and cool mist; if you live in a dry climate, this is a particularly useful feature, as you may use your humidifier often.

Crane Germ Defense EE-8065 Humidifier

Crane USA Classic Warm & Cool Mist Humidifier - White
  • Ultrasonic Warm or Cool Mist increases air moisture for easier breathing and a good night's sleep
  • Relieves cough, cold, and flu symptoms, nasal congestion, dry cough, sinus irritation, nose bleeds, and dry skin and...
  • Recommended non-medicated alternative to over the counter cough and cold medicine
  • Clean Control Antimicrobial Material is proven to help reduce mold and bacteria growth up to 99.96%
  • Removable 1.2 gallon tank easily fits under most bathroom sinks

The Crane Germ Defense EE-8065 Humidifier is an ultrasonic unit that switches from warm mist to cool mist at the touch of a button. No matter what the season and your preferences, using this humidifier is easy and works for rooms up to 500 square feet.

Its namesake feature is the proprietary Germ Defense protection against microbial growth in the water tank and basin, assuring you cleaner breathable air. The Germ Defense system works by employing embedded silver particles that prevent things like mold, viruses, and bacteria from taking hold of the surface. You can feel relief from respiratory ailments and dry skin during the winter by using the warm mist settings, or you can feel the cooling sensation of cool mist during the warmer months. Crane’s Germ Defense EE-8065 is a workhorse and is capable of operating for up to 72 hours with a daily output of 2.2 gallons.

Use variable output settings make adjustments, but you’ll want to invest in a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels, as there is not a built-in humidistat. The unit does, however, have an indicator light to show when the tank is empty, as well as an automatic shutoff safety feature. The EE-8065 is a great value for the price and is a quiet choice that’s perfect for bedrooms.

Holmes HM495 Ultrasonic Humidifier

Holmes Ultrasonic Humidifier Filter-Free with Variable Mist Control, HM495
  • Filter Free Operation
  • 1.3 Gallion tank capacity
  • Tank will operate throughout the night on one filling
  • Variable mist control will allow you to achieve your optimal comfort level
  • Space-saving attractive tower design

This ultrasonic humidifier by Holmes has a contemporary look that will blend in with many different home styles. It has a 2-8 gallon output and can operate for up to 25 hours, this powered unit with rapid technology keeps it running quieter than other models.

If you have a room up to 500 square feet in size, the HM495 is a good option, as it operates quietly and efficiently. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does offer variable control and an antimicrobial coating that prevents the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew in the water tank. Holmes’ HM495 would be an ideal choice for a living room, as it can keep the humidity at a perfect level while quietly reducing static electricity around electronic items.

If you need a humidifier that will work all day, work quietly, and humidify a medium-to-large sized room, the Holmes HM495 is an affordable option that’s worth a look.

​Best Travel Humidifers

Hunter QLS-03

Hunter QLS03-BK Ultrasonic Personal Air Humidifier, Black
  • Great for the office, traveling, by the bed or near your favorite sitting area
  • Compact size
  • Approximately 0.5 gallon of water output (mist) per day at maximum setting
  • Uses water bottle for a tank
  • Can use any size bottle, up to 20oz.

The Hunter QLS-03 is a compact humidifier that’s perfect for using at home, the office, or travel. The ultrasonic humidifier operates quietly, so it makes an indirect impact if you want to take it with you on the go. Only take a personal water bottle up to 20 ounces and use that as your refillable tank.

The humidifier has a small footprint, the base measuring 4.2 inches by 4.5inches, making this a great option if you need to take a humidifier with you to work, as it can sit neatly on your desktop. The humidifier has variable output options, so this is versatile for home, work, or travel. As you might expect, this little unit doesn’t have a long reach—the cord is approximately 5 feet, and while it may feel short, you can get up to 8 hours of humidification on one bottle. Also, the unit is super lightweight, adding to its portability. Only rotate the unit to direct the mist where you want it to go.

If you want a humidifier you take practically anywhere; the cute and compact QLS-03 is an affordable and practical solution.

Crane EE-5950 Personal Cool Mist Travel Humidifier

Crane Personal Cool Mist Travel Humidifier - White
  • Ultrasonic Cool Mist increases air moisture for easier breathing and a good night's sleep
  • Relieves cough, cold, and flu symptoms, nasal congestion, dry cough, sinus irritation, nose bleeds, and dry skin and...
  • Perfect Travel companion for a little relief on the go, at home, or at your office
  • Recommended non-medicated alternative to over the counter cough and cold medicine
  • Clean Control Antimicrobial Material is proven to help reduce mold and bacteria growth up to 99.96%*

This travel-sized ultrasonic cool mist humidifier is lightweight and compact, making this an excellent choice for use while you’re traveling, or even while you’re at home or your desk at work. Anytime you need just a little extra humidity to relieve those symptoms of cold or flu, the Crane EE-5950 will do the trick.

The humidifier comes in three colors and comes with a tumbler, or you can use a standard glass. The plug is an USB port that comes with an A/C adapter—you can plug your humidifier into your laptop (or your car), or even a USB outlet you might find at a hotel, or you can just plug into a regular wall outlet, although the cord is only five feet. The unit will work for up to 10 hours at a time, helping you alleviate dryness and congestion. A particular antimicrobial material helps reduce mold, and bacterial growth, in a design made for this travel humidifier. As a bonus, the travel humidifier comes with its travel bag and two additional wick filters.

Crane’s EE-5950 travel humidifier is super quiet, due to its high technology, and it’s lightweight for traveling and small enough to fit in your carry-on.

Boneco 7146 Travel Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

BONECO Travel Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier 7146
  • High Output: Up to 1 gallon/24 hours
  • Comfortable for hotel rooms or your desk
  • Interchangeable power plug for worldwide use
  • Adapter for conventional plastic bottles
  • Travel bag

The Boneco 7146 travel humidifier is a portable way to carry soothing, refreshing mist with you anywhere. The compact unit uses standard plastic bottles and is capable of easily fitting into your luggage. Just attach a plastic bottle, plug in, and instantly reap the benefits of properly humidified air.

With the 7146 travel humidifier, you can go everywhere—the humidifier includes an universal adapter and a travel bag. The humidifier has a tiny footprint, 2.6 by 4.4 inches, and weighs only 1.6 pounds, making this perfect for travel or your desk. The humidifier includes a LED light indicator when the water level is low, and the machine will automatically turn off when the bottle is empty. The unit is easy to clean and even comes with a cleaning brush.

Overall, this is a convenient model for home, work, and especially travel. The ability to simply add a bottle of water and go is invaluable.

Types of Humidifiers


Steam or vaporizer humidifiers are often the least expensive and most readily available. It works by gently boiling water and releasing moisture into the air as a warm mist. Not only is it cost-effective but also you have the ability to add medicated inhalants, which can help reduce coughing. You don’t have to worry about bacterial development or mineral buildup, but due to its reliance on boiling water, it can be dangerous to children and cause burns, and it has the highest energy costs.


Through a diffuser, which breaks the free water in a mist into the air, an impeller unit features a rotating disc that forces the water. It is imperative to use clean water and not let the water get stagnant, or else the unit will disperse any developing bacteria or mold into the air. Impeller units can be noisier than other models. If you have hard water with a high mineral content, impeller units may begin to release these metals as a fine dust, which can be unhealthy to breathe; the EPA recommends using distilled water if you live in an area with mineral-rich water.


Ultrasonic humidifiers have a metal or ceramic diaphragm that vibrates at high speed in a mechanism similar to a speaker, thus creating water droplets. The unit operates almost silently with the power of a small fan to emit the mist. Like impeller units, you have to be aware of any potential mineral or bacterial buildup. Keep your humidifer scrupulously clean and use distilled water, if you have hard water in your area.


A wick or evaporative humidifier is sometimes known as a “cool mist” humidifier and has three main components: a reservoir, a wick, and a fan. The wick is porous, usually made of paper, cloth, or foam, and absorbs water from the reservoir. A fan blows over the wick, allowing the air to absorb the moisture. Evaporative models are somewhat self-regulating; as humidity increases, the output naturally decreases. Wicks need to be cleaned and often dried to prevent mold and mineral buildup, and eventually, the wick will need to be replaced, as it can become saturated with mineral deposits over time.

Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifier

Cool Air Humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers work by continually dispersing room-temperature moisture into the air and are available in evaporative or ultrasonic models. Evaporative models have an internal wick that absorbs moisture from a reservoir, and a fan blows across the wick, releasing cool, invisible moisture into the air. Ultrasonic models use ultrasonic vibrations to generate a micro-mist that disperses almost silently.

These cool mist humidifiers are a great option for energy efficiency, as they consume less energy to operate than warm mist humidifiers because the water doesn’t need to be heated, and the unit is often overall less expensive. It’s also a good option for families, as you don’t have to worry about the risk of child injury due to hot water vapor. If you have kids suffering from croup, cool mist humidifiers can be therapeutic. Besides, cool mist humidifiers work well for large rooms and even whole houses.

Cool mist humidifiers require meticulous maintenance, as they are susceptible to bacteria and mold development, as well as the mineral buildup. The wick needs replacement every few months, depending on the frequency of use.

The downside to using evaporative cooling mist humidifiers is the noise factor. These units use a fan to push moisture into the room, which can lead to more noise than other types of humidifiers. Cool mist can also make a room feel slightly cooler than usual.

Warm Air Humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers have an internal heating component that gently boils water before releasing it into the air. This process kills off waterborne bacteria and mold, and due to its lack of fan runs much quieter than other types. There are also ultrasonic models of warm mist humidifiers. Many of these models also include a separate reservoir that allows you to include therapeutic additives such as eucalyptus; some doctors prefer this type of humidifier, as it can make breathing easier and is soothing if you suffer from colds or the flu.

Although the unit is quiet, it is more expensive to operate, as the heating element requires more thanelectricity. Warm mist humidifiers are also not as useful for large rooms and are better suited to small areas. This type of unit is also a little harder to clean, as the heating process leaves behind mineral deposits, but many users say it’s a very comfortable option in the winter months. The hot water can burn wandering hands. If you have children, a warm mist humidifier can be risky and curious.

Warm + Cool Mist Humidifiers

Some humidifiers offer the best of both worlds and allow to change to cold or warm mist settings, depending on your seasonal preferences. Many people like to run warm mist during the winter and cool mist during the summer.

Troubleshooting Common Problems When Your Humidifier Isn't Working

The humidifier does not turn on:

  1. Check the electrical outlet
  2. Make sure the indoor humidity is not above the level of the humidistat by checking the digital settings or turning the humidistat clockwise

Only one tank empties:

  • Raise the side that is not emptying

The machine is noisy:

  1. Use a lower setting
  2. Place the humidifier further away from where you are or where you sleep
  3. With the door closed, run the unit on high during the day, then keep the unit turned off at night, keeping the door closed.

It won't steam

Preventing Potential Problems

  • To avoid mold development and warping, keep your unit off of the floor and away from carpeting, windows, and wood floors. If water accumulates in these areas you’re opening up your home to mold; direct the vapor upwards. To decrease water vapor, turn down the humidistat if your unit has one.
  • Better units have a built-in humidistat that monitors indoor humidity levels, but if yours does not include one, invest in a separate hygrometer.
  • Clean your unit regularly according to the manufacturer’s directions. This is not optional. Rinse and dry the humidifier each time you refill it and clean all parts once a week by running them through the dishwasher. Use white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to clean out any visible scaling or build-up.
  • Use distilled water if you live in an area with hard water or if you use well water.
  • Order replacements for demineralization cartridges and antibacterial filters, so you have them on-hand.
  • Regular in-season cleaning is a must, as is thoroughly cleaning the whole unit at the beginning and end of any season.
  • If you have a central humidifier that is attached to your furnace, meticulously follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

Health and Home Benefits of Cold Humidifiers

There is a myriad of benefits to having a humidifier in your home, especially during the cold, dry winter months. If you live in a dry climate, or you have that cold and dry winter, you may feel the effects, including dry skin, irritated sinuses, itchy eyes, and even an irritated respiratory system that can lead to coughs and colds. In the winter, indoor air temperature can be as low as 10 percent when you ideally want an indoor humidity of 30–50 percent. Humidifiers aid not only your health but also your home. Some of the benefits of having a humidifier in your home include:

Preventing Illnesses – Humidity allows your nose to do its job by filtering out bacteria and viruses, thus preventing colds and flu, as well as bloody noses.

Treating Illnesses – If you are suffering from a cold or flu, humidified air can soothe an irritated nasal passage, throat, and bronchial tubes, which can help you breathe and sleep easier, thus helping your recovery.

Protecting Wood Furnishings ­– Wood furniture and flooring responds readily to too much or too little humidity, so keeping the climate stable is essential for preserving the life of your home and furnishings. A dry home can lead to cracked and split wood; adding a humidifier can prevent this and protect the wood’s integrity.

Protecting Your Voice – Your vocal cords are susceptible to dehydration and viruses, which can cause you to lose your singing and speaking voice. Keeping the air adequately moist will help you preserve your voice and prevent some of these vocalization issues.

Skin Moisturizing – A warm home is great in the winter, but it can lead to dry, itchy skin, especially your hands and lips. A humidifier can help prevent these issues.

Warmth – Humidifiers not only produce visible moisture but also warmer air. The same air temperature with lower humidity will feel colder than with higher humidity.

Reduces Snoring – Did you know that lower moisture could contribute to snoring? Using a humidifier can fight the dryness in your nose and soft palate that can lead to snoring.

Controlling Static Electricity – Static electricity can cause a bad hair day, small shocks, and clingy clothing, and a humidifier can help temper some of those annoyances.

Lessening Electronic Shocks – Static electricity that builds up in the winter is funny when you get a shock from petting your cat, but it can cause serious problems to electronics, if you work with internal computer components. Keeping the air perfectly moist will help prevent this risk.

Keeping Plants Happy – Many indoor plants are tropical plants that thrive in humid climates that an usual winter indoor climate just can’t provide. If you start to notice your plants turning brown at the edges or dying, a humidifier can make a huge impact.

While having a properly humidified home has great benefits, too much of a good thing can lead to dust mites and mold, so it’s important to monitor your humidifier and keep the humidity at the proper level to receive the greatest benefits.


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