What Types of Humidifiers Are the Best?
Cool mist, warm mist, and vaporizers, oh my!
These are just a few of the many types of humidifiers you can buy, but do you know what the differences and benefits are? If not, you're not alone.
It can be hard to decide what type of humidifier to buy based on your needs and budget, but we're here to help.
Keep reading for a guide to several types of humidifiers including pros, cons, and versatility.
5 Types of Humidifiers
There are five common types of humidifiers available -- cool mist, warm mist, ultrasonic, evaporative, and vaporizers.
When treating an illness, congestion, or other ailments, it's important to choose the right one, or else your symptoms might get worse, not better. Some people use humidifiers to prevent health complications and help purify the air in their home or office.
Let's take a look at the top five types of humidifiers and their benefits.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Is the air in your home too dry? Are you suffering from congestion or cough due to a cold?
If so, a cool mist humidifier can add much-needed moisture to the air, soothing your cough and breaking up chest congestion. The best part is, these humidifiers increase the moisture and humidity in a room without raising the temperature.
They're best suited for warmer climates.
These types of humidifiers emit a cool vapor mist into the air. Before exiting the humidifier, the water travels through a filter to expel all impurities. Cool mist humidifiers are also easy to clean and affordable.
This type of humidifier works well for both children and pets thanks to the impurity filter. If you or your child are suffering from cold and flu symptoms, you can add inhalants to most cool mist humidifiers.
This adds methanol benefits to the mist for additional congestion relief. You can also use a cool mist humidifier for everyday use if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
Just because cool mist humidifiers are easy to clean doesn't mean you don't have to perform routine cleanings. Failing to do so can cause bacterial build-up and contamination. This bacteria is then expelled with the water vapors and might cause health complications.
Cut down on mineral dust and accumulation by using distilled water in your cool mist humidifier.
You may also notice a low humming sound when your humidifier is running. Although some people might find this bothersome, most enjoy the soothing white noise.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
On the opposite side of the equation are warm mist humidifiers. What some people don't realize, though, is that these types of humidifiers are also effective at treating cold and flu symptoms.
Warm mist humidifiers work best in cold climates. These humidifiers actually heat the water in order to create a vapor. The vapor is then cooled before it's released into the air. The heating process decreases the risk of bacterial contamination and increases purity.
These humidifiers are praised for achieving high levels of moisture saturation and reducing bacteria and germ build-up. Similar to cool mist humidifiers, this variety is also compatible with inhalants and medicated products.
The internal fan of a warm mist humidifier is usually quieter than a cool mist design.
If you're using your humidifier for a child or baby, you may want to forgo this option. The heated water can cause a safety risk for little ones.
Due to the complex internal fan, warm mist humidifiers are also a little more difficult to clean and are less energy efficient.
In terms of price, warm mist humidifiers are a bit more expensive because of their filtration system -- but they're also more expensive to run.
Evaporative humidifiers are similar to cool mist humidifiers because they don't heat the water to create vapor. Instead, a fan circulates the humidity through a moist wick filter located at the bottom of the device.
This water evaporates into a vapor and is expelled as a spray or mist, creating humidity in the air. This type of humidifier is ideal for children and pets since they don't generate heat. They're also safe to place on almost any surface without fear of damaging your furniture.
Evaporative humidifiers are low maintenance, portable, and affordable. They're also self-regulating, which means they adjust humidity levels automatically. They can increase a room's moisture quickly and efficiently.
They also deliver clean, invisible moisture without creating white mineral dust. Similar to other cools mist humidifiers, you will hear a low operating noise from the system's fan.
Because the water is not heated, there's also the risk of bacterial contamination. Routinely cleaning the system and using distilled water can help prevent this.
Do you want the cost-effective features of a cool mist humidifier with the efficiency and quiet fan provided by warm mist? Vaporizer humidifiers offer all these benefits in one system.
These types of humidifiers allow you to choose between a cool or warm mist. Those suffering from cold and flu symptoms can add inhalants to these systems. Even with its multi-use features, vaporizer humidifiers are affordably priced.
Most vaporizers emit visible steam into the air when on the warm setting and a mist when set to cool. Vaporizers are quiet and create minimal dust accumulation.
One downside to these systems is that they use quite a bit of energy. They're also harder to clean. The heating feature may pose a burn risk for families with small children or pets.
Last on the list is the ultrasonic humidifier. These types of humidifiers use a vibrating metallic diaphragm (usually made of metal or ceramic) to release moisture into the air. The vibrations create water droplets, which are then expelled into the room.
Most ultrasonic humidifiers give you the option of a warm or cold mist.
Not only do ultrasonic humidifiers use very little energy to operate, but they're also extremely quiet. This makes them an ideal choice for bedrooms and children who are easily distracted by increased noise.
Some ultrasonic humidifiers offer pre-preprogrammed settings which allow you to control the humidity depending on the weather. Different seasons cause different conditions including allergies, cold and flu symptoms, dry nose, throat, and skin.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are energy efficient and easy to clean. When set for warm mist, bacterial contamination may occur. You may also notice some mineral dust accumulation.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are a little more expensive than other varieties but offer quiet, energy-efficient cool and warm mist options.
Tips for Choosing the Best Humidifier
Now that you know more about the different types of humidifiers, let's discuss some tips on choosing the best one for your needs. Here are some of the most important considerations.
Best Humidifiers on a Budget
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't buy a reliable and efficient humidifier. Prices range from $10 up to $500! Some home humidifier systems can actually run you several thousand dollars.
If you're searching for an inexpensive humidifier to use short-term or for a single purpose like treating seasonal allergies or a cold, opt for a cool mist humidifier. These are affordable and effective.
If you plan to invest in a humidifier to use time and time again, you may want a warm mist or ultrasonic system, or a vaporizer that allows you to switch from warm to cool mist.
Another way to save money on your humidifier purchase is to invest a more energy-efficient variety. The higher output of moisture into the air, the more efficient the humidifier is.
You want a system that creates a lot of moisture with little effort. Ultrasonic and cool mist humidifiers are some of the most energy-efficient.
Best Humidifiers for Children
Many people turn to humidifiers to help ease their child's congestion, allergies, or other illnesses. Babies are especially susceptible to congestion and are prone to respiratory infections.
Humidifiers can offer gentle relief for these common symptoms by breaking up mucus. This is especially helpful in the harsh, cold winter months. Humidifiers can also help ease dry, itch skin and prevent painful rashes.
To ensure safety, the best humidifiers for children are cool mist. Warm mist humidifiers carry the risk for burns and accidental spills.
Many child-friendly humidifiers are available in a variety of adorable shapes and colors. These are perfect for a baby's nursery or toddler's bedroom.
Some parents also prefer quiet humidifiers that won't disturb their little one's sleep.
Easy to Clean Humidifiers
One of the biggest nuisances about using a humidifier is keeping it clean. While all the benefits of humidifiers outweigh the tedious cleaning process, some people just don't want to be bothered!
If this describes you, you may want to invest in a humidifier that is low-maintenance.
Before you decide to skimp on the cleaning process, you should know why its an important step that needs your attention. Neglecting regular humidifier maintenance can actually worsen your symptoms and send unwanted bacteria into the air.
Unused water left in the humidifier becomes stagnant. The next time you turn on your humidifier, this water is released into the air. Now, you're breathing in potentially contaminated water!
It's recommended you clean your humidifier before filling it with more water or every few days, depending on how often you use it.
General cleaning includes filling the water tank with a combination of water and white vinegar. Allow this mixture to run in the humidifier for one hour. Rinse out whatever water remains.
Next, fill it with clean water and run it for another hour before the next use. This guarantees all of the vinegar has evaporated.
Cool mist and ultrasonic top the list of easy to clean humidifier designs.
Consider the Size of the Space
How large is the room where the humidifier will be? This will determine not only the type of humidifier you choose, but also the size. The larger the room, the bigger the humidifier should be.
Most portable and travel-sized humidifiers reach between 25 and 100 feet. This is detailed on the packaging and determined by the gallon size so be sure to check before buying.
A tabletop humidifier is a sufficient size for an average-size room. You can place these on a counter, dresser, or desk and the mist will reach most areas of the room. If you plan to use your humidifier in different rooms, opt for one that's easy to transport.
What Symptoms You're Treating
Are you buying a humidifier for seasonal allergies, cold and flu symptoms, or dry skin? Consider what symptoms you're treating before choosing a type.
Both cool and warm mist humidifiers add moisture to the air, which is sufficient for healing most ailments. Moisture helps lubricate a dry throat, reduce cough, and break up mucus and respiratory congestion.
If you're struggling with seasonal allergies, a traditional, inexpensive cool mist humidifier is sufficient. However, if your allergies are recurrent and you plan to run the humidifier year after year, you may want to invest in a high-quality system.
You can also treat a passing cold or flu using a traditional cool mist humidifier. If the humidifier is for your child's room, steer clear of warm mist which could pose a safety hazard.
If your child has asthma, invest in a quality humidifier that will last for several years since asthma is generally a long-term condition.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are best if you're distracted by added noise in your home or bedroom. Can't decide between warm and cool mist? A vaporizer or ultrasonic humidifier meets both needs.
Do Your Research Before Buying a Humidifier
With so many types of humidifiers out there, it can be difficult to know which one is the best. It really depends on your individual preferences, needs, and budget.
Cool mist and evaporator humidifiers are inexpensive and safe for children and pets, but can be a bit noisy for those who prefer sleeping in silence. Warm mist humidifiers are quiet but do emit hot steam, making them less child-friendly.
Vaporizers are versatile, while ultrasonic are extremely energy-efficient.
Whatever humidifier you choose, be sure to keep it clean and well-maintained.