What the Best Humidifiers Have

  • Easy to maintain: According to the Mayo Clinic, humidifier tanks can become a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and mold if not kept clean, in turn aggravating allergies and respiratory problems. Look for a humidifier whose parts are easy to disassemble and clean, as well as antibacterial features such as a silver-ion filter.
  • Minimal noise: In general, ultrasonic humidifiers are quieter than those that use a fan to disperse water vapor.
  • Adjustable-output humidifier: More humidity isn't always better, which is why experts say it's important to set a humidifier at the appropriate level (generally between 30 and 50 percent). Signs that an area is over-humidified include peeling paint and condensation on the interior window surfaces. Too much humidity can promote the growth of mold, bacteria and dust mites.
  • Ease of filling: Choose a model with a removable reservoir. Other helpful features include a wide mouth, a carrying handle and a tank that will fit under your faucet.

Know before you go

How big is the area that you want to humidify? Match the stated output of the humidifier to the area you want covered. Output is measured in gallons; for example, a 3-gallon humidifier can put out 3 gallons of moisture per day. The specs for the humidifier should also say how big an area it can cover.

How long is the time period you want to run it? Although a 3-gallon humidifier will humidify a large area, you'll have to refill it frequently if it has only a 1-gallon tank. Also, if you want to run it overnight, you want there to be enough water to do so.

How maintenance savvy are you? Indicator lights alert the user when water is low or the filter requires maintenance. Even better, an automatic shut-off prevents the humidifier from running when the reservoir is dry.

What kind of water does your municipality have? If you have hard water, a demineralization cartridge that minimizes dust caused by the minerals left behind by tap water is a must. Some models come with a demineralization cartridge; in other cases, it's an optional add-on. Remember to replace the cartridge as scheduled.

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