We’re pleased to have made some significant updates to our Cool Mist Humidifier Reviews for the 2020 and 2021 season. Since we started tracking the best cool mist humidifiers in 2017, we now have reviewed dozens of devices PLUS we have years of actual buying data from our customers. That means we can tell you not only what humidifiers we like, but what people are actually deciding to purchase. This year we have two contenders tied for first – one for your whole house, and one for a single room humidifier. Also new this year is a detailed FAQ devoted to cool mist humidifiers. If you want to jump right to the comparisons and reviews, click on our cool mist humidifier review table. Otherwise, let’s jump in….
Your home is your sanctuary, and at any moment, you want it to be the best it can possibly be. While we tend to think about things like comfy couches and supportive mattresses and pillows when it comes to improving our well-being at home, we tend to overlook the quality of our air. If this is the case for you, it is time to make a change. Improving the quality of your air at home will not only increase your comfort; it can also improve your health. And the easiest way to change the air in your home is to purchase the best cool mist humidifier for the money.
Of course, purchasing one isn’t quite so easy. If you have never purchased one before, you might be overwhelmed by all the humidifiers on the market. But you do not need to worry; we have put together everything you need to feel confident in your purchase. With that said, let’s take a look at what you need to know about humidifiers.
You might not expect there to be too many features to consider when purchasing a humidifier; after all, it is just meant to put moisture into the air. However, these are deceptively complex machines, and there is more variety in cool mist humidifiers on the market than ever before. So before you can purchase a humidifier, you need to know exactly what you are looking for. Let’s take a look at your options below.
Whole House, Single Room, or Portable?
Each of these are great options, but which one is right for you depends on your individual circumstances. To help you determine which is right for you, we will go over each option in depth below.
Whole house humidifiers are placed onto the HVAC system and send moisturized air throughout the entire home. However, you must have central heat and air in order for this to work. Also, if you are renting, it might not be an option.
With that said, if it is an option for you, it comes with many advantages. First of all, you do not need to think about adjusting the humidity as you move from room to room; it will be the same everywhere in your home. Second of all, they require less maintenance than single room or portable humidifiers.
Whole house humidifiers come in a few different subtypes. The cool mist options available to you are drum humidifiers, flow-through humidifiers, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Drum humidifiers and flow-through humidifiers both pass cool water over a wick, causing evaporation. The drum style holds water in the drum and must be cleaned and filled once a month; the flow-through style pulls from a water supply line so you do not need to worry about filling it or cleaning it more than once a year. Ultrasonic humidifiers pass water over a traducer that vibrates and excites the molecules to produce a mist. This is highly effective, but produces white dust, which some homeowners dislike.
Single-room humidifiers are more flexible than whole-house options, but they also humidify less space and require more maintenance. Depending on the model, they can moisturize the air in spaces as small as 300 square feet for a bedroom or as large as 4,000 square feet for a great room with high ceilings. Maintenance for smaller models may be as frequent as twice a day, while some larger models can go three days between refills. As with whole-house humidifiers, you can purchase both evaporative and ultrasonic models.
While single room humidifiers often can be moved with ease, they are not ideal for packing into a suitcase for travel or carting back and forth from work each day. Portable humidifiers are designed for these tasks and are often small enough to fit into a purse or pocket. These tend to be ultrasonic humidifiers since this allows for the most compact design and do not have water tanks, using water bottles or cups instead. These do not humidify a large amount of space, but are great for next to your bed at a hotel or on your desk at work.
Square Feet Covered
A big factor in the model you choose is the square footage you need covered. If you are looking at a whole-house humidifier, you need to look at the square footage or your whole house, or at least the parts that are hooked up to the HVAC system. With a single room humidifier, you need to think about which room or rooms you will use it in and determine their square feet. As for portable humidifiers, square feet is generally not a big concern since the idea is to just humidifier the air directly around you. Keep in mind that the higher your ceilings, the more square feet in coverage you will need.
Even high maintenance humidifiers are easy to take care of. You fill them when needed and clean them once a day or every so many days. However, some people prefer to keep their lives as simple as possible and filling up the tank once or twice a day isn’t what they are looking for. There is no right or wrong answer here; it is just a matter of personal preference.
Filter or Filterless
Some people like to have filters because it makes them feel like the air they breathe is cleaner. Others like to skip the filters so there is less to take care of and there are no additional costs from replacing the filters as time goes on. Once again, neither is better than the other, but you should go with what works best for you.
This one is all about why you are purchasing a humidifier. Are you looking for a humidifier for baby’s nursery? Or do you want a humidifier for allergies or asthma? Perhaps you want it for someone with a weakened immune system? The reason you are purchasing a humidifier will determine which humidifier you purchase as different models are best suited to different situations
10 Best Cool Mist Humidifier
Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier – Best Whole House Cool Mist Humidifier
This humidifier is also at the top of our list of the best furnace humidifiers. For a humidifier that takes care of the entire home and requires very little maintenance, you cannot beat the Aprilaire 700. This model is ideal for treating most any condition that can be helped by humidification, including asthma, allergies, skin conditions, croup, and more. Able to output 3/4ths of a gallon every hour, it is high powered and can take care of homes up to 4,200 square feet.
Because it is a flow-through style humidifier, it pulls water directly from a supply line and does not need to be filled by you. There are also no parts to clean. Once a year, you perform simple maintenance and then forget about it until the next year. There is no filter to change or clean, but if you have one on your HVAC system, the increased moisture will allow it to trap more particles, resulting in the need to change or clean it more often. This model is covered by a 5-year warranty for parts and you can install it yourself without voiding the warranty. However, since it does require a water supply line, it is best to work with a professional installer.
Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier
The Honeywell HCM350 has been named our best cool mist humidifier in 2019 for a single room. We’ve seen a significant number of buyers choose this device based on its capabilities, its focus on a germ-free environment, and the overall quality of Honeywell devices. It’s ideal for those who don’t want to use a whole-house option, or really want to focus on a specific room, like your baby’s room.
All humidifiers help to boost the immune system by moisturizing the membranes that serve as the body’s first line of defense. However, the Honeywell HCM350W takes it a step further by using antimicrobial technology to remove 99.9 percent of germs from the mist it outputs. This makes it an excellent option for those with compromised immune systems, such as babies and those with COPD and asthma.
When run on its lowest setting, it can last for 24 hours on a single fill. Like most single-room humidifiers, you will need to clean it once every 2-3 days. It runs quiet, making it well suited to all rooms in the home. It comes with a 3-year warranty that covers parts and labor.
Honeywell HCM-6009 Cool Moisture Console Humidifier
If you have high ceilings or an open floor plan, most single-room humidifiers will be too small to get the job done, the Honeywell HCM-6009 is a great choice. Humidification for large rooms can be difficult, but not with this model, which can handle 1,900 square feet of space. We also like this model for those with COPD and asthma since it comes with a built-in humidistat, allowing you to prevent both too little and too much moisture in the air.
It comes with a wide tank opening so it is easy to fill and clean. Depending on the settings and the humidity level in the home, it can last 24-48 hours on a single fill. It is large and must sit on the floor, so it does take up floor space, but its benefits outweigh this one downside. It comes with a 3-year warranty that covers parts and labor.
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
We recommend the TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier for those with chronic health conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and COPD. Our reasoning behind this recommendation is that this humidifier comes with a lot of special features that you will find helpful if you are using your humidifier every single day rather than just on certain days or just for a season each year. Some of these helpful features include adjustable mist levels, timer, and automatic shutoff when the tank is empty. Also a big plus is that it is incredibly quiet, to the point that it is almost silent, so it works well in bedroom and other spaces where noise is a concern.
This model can hold 1.1 gallons of water and depending on the settings, it can go through two tanks a day. You can position the nozzle wherever is best for your comfort and the room. It needs to be cleaned every 2-3 days to ensure there is no bacterial or mold growth in the tank. The LED display is easy to read and can be turned off at night so as not to disturb your sleep. It does come with a filter, but it is a permanent one, so you will not need to replace it.
Crane Child’s Humidifier
When it comes to children’s rooms, a standard humidifier just won’t do. It isn’t that they aren’t good for children; rather, it is that little ones want something fun. The Crane Child’s Humidifier is fun and fanciful, and it does not sacrifice any of its quality to offer kids a cute design. Its whisper-quiet design is great for nurseries to accommodate infants and toddlers who are light sleepers. The tank holds a gallon of water and lasts up to 24 hours.
This humidifier does not use a filter, so that means less cleaning and less money spent. You will want to clean it once a day for infants and every 2-3 days for toddlers. The clean control function prevents bacterial growth and the auto-shutoff turns the unit off when it runs out of water. It comes with a 1-year warranty and a 1-year Parents Magazine subscription coupon.
Optimus U-31001 1.5-Gallon Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
If you are in a very dry climate and need a humidifier with a high output, the Optimus U-31001 is for you. It holds 1.1 gallons and can output 1.5 every 18 hours. While this does mean filling the tank twice a day, it also means you can truly fight the dry air in your home. As such, it is ideal for anyone seeking to make their air more comfortable or treat chronic skin or respiratory ailments.
This unit does not come with a lot of fancy features or a complicated display, so it is very easy to use. It will shut off when the tank is empty and display a light to alert you. It is whisper quiet, so you can use it in any room, including nurseries. It comes with two filters, neither of which need to be replaced and are easy to clean. It is covered by a 1-year warranty.
Pure enrichment – Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
If you are looking for a humidifier for the bedroom or office, consider this model from Pure Enrichment. It can run for up to 16 hours on a single fill, which is more than enough for a comfortable work day or a full night of sleep. The optional night light allows you to take care of two items in one and can help to comfort small children who do not sleep well in the dark. In addition to the humidifier, it comes with a disk cleaning brush so you can keep the machine healthy and clean.
The mist nozzle turns 360 degrees, so you can target the mist in any direction you desire. It does create white dust, but if you use distilled water, this can be avoided. It comes with an industry leading 2-year warranty, making it easy to feel confident in your choice.
Holmes Cool Mist Comfort Humidifier with Digital Control Panel
The Holmes Cool Mist Comfort Humidifier may not have the sleekest profile on the list, but it does offer one of the longest run times between fills, coming in at a full two days. If you are looking to improve your air while not taking on a lot of extra work, this is the humidifier for you. The digital control panel makes it easy to operate, and while the tank is large, it is easy to carry.
It gives you the choice of four different settings to get the moisture level you want. The interface has a check filter indicator to ensure you never go too long between changes. Unlike most single-room humidifiers, this one can handle a large space—as much as 1,000 feet despite not being a console humidifier. It does make a bit of noise, but since it is for larger rooms and not bedrooms, this should not be a problem.
Aromacare Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier
ith the popularity of essential oils, many people want to use them in their humidifiers. However, adding them to your average humidifier is not a good idea as it can break the humidifier and void the warranty. If you are interested in combining essential oils and humidification, try the Aromacare Ultrasonic Humidifier and Diffuser.
Many essential oils can help treat respiratory issues, such as allergies and asthma. When combined with humidification, it can help you breathe easier, and even feel calmer. It is made from a corrosion-free material so the machine should last many years. It is covered by a 1-year warranty and lifetime technical support.
Fancii Cool Mist Personal Mini Humidifier
When you are traveling, you do not want to weigh down your luggage with a humidifier. But if you use your humidifier to manage skin and respiratory conditions, or just rely on it for comfort, you won’t want to go without one either. The Fancii Cool Mist Humidifier allows you to take comfort on the road with you. The base itself is small enough to fit it in your purse or pocket. For a tank, just use a 600 ml water bottle.
This model does not come with many special features, but that works well since it keeps the footprint small. You are able to adjust the mist level, set a timer, and turn it on or off. It runs off of batter or USB, which gives you more flexibility than most travel humidifiers. You can even use it on a plane. If you travel a lot and have a need for moist air, this is a must have.
Health Benefits of Using a Cool Mist Humidifier
While you can purchase a cool mist humidifier just to add comfort to your home, the main reason people purchase humidifiers is to improve their health. Wondering just how a humidifier can improve your health? Let’s take a look at just some of the ways purchasing one can improve your wellbeing.
Boost Your Immune System
The body’s first defense against bacteria and viruses are the mucous membranes. However, for them to work, they need to stay moisturized. When the air you breathe is dry, it pulls the moisture out of the membranes, leaving them unable to fully protect you, which means your immune system is weakened. If you humidify the air, your membranes will regain the moisture they need and your immune system will be strong once more.
As your membranes and nasal passages become dry, they also tend to swell up and become irritated. As a response, the body overproduces nasal mucus to an effort to return moisture to these areas. While moisturizing them is a good thing, the end result is uncomfortable and even painful congestion. Humidifying the air for congestion allows your body to stop trying to add moisture, reducing or eliminating the congestion you are experiencing.
Help with COPD
When you have COPD, any irritation to the lungs can be devastating to your health. Unfortunately, dry air can be particularly irritating to those with COPD. As such, it is important to maintain ideal humidity levels by purchasing a humidifier for COPD. Be careful not to over humidify the air, though, as this can lead to problems as well.
Keep Baby Comfortable
For many people, the first time they buy a humidifier is for their baby. Because newborns are highly sensitive to their sudden change in environment, they are prone to skin problems, which moist air can help relieve. Also a concern is congestion and illnesses, both of which a humidifier can help fight. As an added benefit? Since baby will be comfortable and breathing well, chances are baby will sleep longer.
Lessen the Severity of Croup
For croup, both steam and cool mist can help. However, the steam is best delivered in a closed space, such as your bathroom, and in large amounts, which you can generate using the shower on strictly hot water—just be careful not to burn yourself or others. As for cool mist, this is where a humidifier helps. While the steam helps to break up anything in the throat, cool mist will help to reduce the swelling.
Provide Greater Comfort to Those with Asthma
With asthma, too much and too little humidity are both a danger. As such, when looking for a humidifier for asthma, you want to look for one with digital controls that can read the humidity level in the air and adjust accordingly. Cool mist is best for asthma since warm mist can irritate the lungs, triggering an asthma attack.
Manage the Worst of Allergies
Allergies often trigger a condition called allergic rhinitis. This condition causes nasal congestion, irritation, and inflammation. Luckily for allergy sufferers, a humidifier can treat all allergic rhinitis symptoms, helping to reduce or eliminate them and leave you feeling much better.
Relieves a Wide Variety of Skin Conditions
For dry skin and eczema, as well as other skin conditions, a major trigger is dry air. By humidifying the air, you help to moisturize your skin, reducing itchiness, tightness, cracking, and other symptoms. To help look and feel your best, use a humidifier for treating skin conditions.
Cool Mist Humidifier Brands
While there are many excellent brands manufacturing cool mist humidifiers, there are certainly some kings in the industry. When it comes to these brands, you know that you are getting high quality products backed by the kinds of warrantees only industry giants can deliver on. Below are the top four brands, all of which are represented in our choices.
Aprilaire is a company that specializes in home air solutions. While their humidifiers are big sellers, they are only a part of what they offer. In addition to humidification, the offer products for temperature control, purification, ventilation, dehumidification, and more. One of their biggest pushes as of late has been to offer smart home air solutions that are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa. While it isn’t as well-known as some of the bigger names, it does have a rich history of incredible products offered since its inception in 1938.
Crane is a company that specializes in humidifiers, unlike the other giants in the industry who do not emphasize any one type of product over the others. In addition to focusing on quality, Crane places an emphasis on unique designs. While most humidifiers are less than aesthetic, Crane creates humidifiers that add to your design. Some models are sleek and minimalist while some, like our number five choice, are incredibly fun and fanciful. They back their products with 1-year warrantees and also have replacement parts for sale on their website.
Holmes offers products that make the air in your home more comfortable. In addition to humidifiers, they also offer purifiers, fans, heaters, and filters. They are currently working on offering more smart home devices so you can control the air in your home no matter where you are. All products from Holmes are backed by a warrantee, but the exact terms vary by product. With that said, they have excellent customer support and are well known for working with customers when they run into an issue.
While no Vicks Humidifiers appear on this list, they are a very popular brand due to their medicines and balms, in addition to their humidifiers. As such, we have made a completely separate guide to Vicks Humidifiers.
Honeywell is the biggest and most diverse company on our list. They create more products than we can possibly list here. While you might think this would mean they are stretched too thin to offer quality products, the company has the talent and resources to ensure that all items they sell meet or exceed industry standards. Most products they offer are covered by a 3-year warrantee that includes both parts and labor, proving they are confident in their products.
How Do Cool Mist Humidifiers Work?
The exact manner in which a cool mist humidifier works will depend on what type of cool mist humidifier it is: evaporative, ultrasonic, or impeller. Each type of cool mist humidifier works in different ways. However, the result with each is the same: moisturized, breathable air.
Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifiers
With these humidifiers, there is a wick in the machine that pulls water from the tank into it and up to the top of the wick. At the top, air is blown across the wick by a fan, causing evaporation. From there, the air may be forced through a filter if the machine has one, and is then pushed out into the room.
Cool Mist Impeller Humidifier
These humidifiers are not very common, and as such, we did not have any on our list. However, you may discover that this is the best option for you, and as such, you should know how it works. With this type of humidifier, a rapidly spinning disc sprays water onto a diffuser. The diffuser breaks the molecules apart into tiny droplets. These droplets are them sent through a filter, if the machine has one, and into the air.
Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Ultrasonic humidifiers pass water over a transducer. The transducer vibrates to excite the molecules and break them apart, resulting in a very fine mist. Once the mist is created, it may go through a filter before being dispersed into the air in the room.
Should You Buy a Humidifier with or without a Filter?
As you no doubt noticed, some of our top ten picks use filters while some do not. We noted earlier that this is a matter of personal preference, but you might be wondering why you would have a preference on this. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you might prefer one over the other.
- You know the air you breathe is as clean as it possibly can be.
- Mineral dust, also called white dust, is contained within the filter rather than ending up in the air and on your furniture.
- It can feel more secure for those with asthma, allergies, COPD, immunity problems, and young children.
- The fan used in humidifiers with filters produces white noise than some find comforting.
- Filtered humidifiers are cheaper than those without filters.
- These models tend to be more basic, and as such, easier to operate.
Without a Filter
- You can use other forms of air filtration, such as filters on your HVAC system or air purifiers, which you may need anyhow since a humidifier with a filter does not filter all the air in the home.
- You are encouraged to use distilled water, which is healthier for you than tap water.
- They are still excellent at helping those with a wide variety of health problems.
- They do not need a fan and can run so quiet they are almost silent.
- You do not need to replace filters, keeping the cost lower over time.
- They are easier to maintain since there is less to clean.
- They tend to come with fun extra features.
Is Cool Mist Better Than Warm Mist?
While this buying guide has been focused on the best cool mist humidifier on the market, warm mist humidifiers are also an option. This might leave you wondering if one is better than the other. In truth, both are excellent choices, but cool mist humidifiers are better in certain situations.
If you are looking for a humidifier for an infant or toddler, you do not want a warm mist humidifier. Because these machines boil the water to produce a mist, they can be very dangerous around curious children. We also caution against using them in spaces where pets roam freely.
If you are treating certain respiratory ailments, warm air—especially warm and moist air—can aggravate them. Both asthma and COPD can flare up when you use warm mist humidifiers. As such, if you or someone in your home suffers from these conditions, we suggest a cool mist humidifier.
However, if you are more concerned about bacteria and mold in the air, a warm mist humidifier might be the best option. These humidifiers kill mold and bacteria when boiling the water. As such, they might be the healthiest choice for your home.
There are many cool mist humidifiers on the market, and the right one for you depends on everything from the symptoms you want to treat to the space you need to use it in. However, no matter your circumstances, we believe that you will find the right one for you on our list. So breathe well and enjoy your home by purchasing the best cool mist humidifier for you.
Mike Nikko is a blogger with over 15 years of experience. I will bring you the best product reviews and other useful life experiences, tips to increase height, tips to improve health… If you have any questions, feel free to ask Mike Nikko!