When you start to feel dry skin as the weather cools or wake up with throat irritation, it might be time to use a humidifier. Humidifiers are appliances that add moisture in the air of your home to balance out the humidity levels that can dry out during drier seasons. There are several types of humidifiers that use different methods to do this. The most popular types are ultrasonic, evaporative, impeller, and steam humidifiers. A good humidifier will have the right combination of functionality and ease of use to fit neatly into your home.
Features to Consider in a Humidifier

Warm vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

A warm mist humidifier reduces bacteria in the mist* and helps warm the air.

*Reduces Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in mist after 40 minutes continuous warm mist operation on the low mist setting shown by independent third-party testing.

A cool mist humidifier, on the other hand is fan-based, and may be a better choice for homes with pets and children. A cool mist humidifier is also effective in adding moisture into the air.
Water Tank Size

If you plan to use a humidifier all night or even for multiple days at a time, you’ll want to choose a model with a large water tank. A small humidifier might feature a 0.5-gallon (1.89 L) tank. Tanks in some of the larger humidifiers available contain between 1.5 gallons (5.68 L) and 2 gallons (7.57 L).

Automatic Operation

A more advanced humidifier may feature a programmable humidistat, which enables the appliance to maintain a set humidity level by adjusting its operation automatically. Some humidifiers can also shut off based on a timer or when they detect that their tanks are empty.

Speed Adjustments

If you don’t need the precision of a humidifier with a built-in humidistat, you should still consider a model with several fan speeds or adjustable mist control. Adding too much moisture to the air can create conditions where mold can grow.

Quiet Operation

Since you’ll probably be using a humidifier for extended periods and at night, quiet operation may be one of the most valuable features to look for. Check user reviews for details about this.

Ease of Cleaning

It’s important to regularly clean your humidifier to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold inside the machine. Look for a humidifier that is easy to take apart and clean.

Essential Oils

You might be looking for more than basic humidity control—perhaps you’d like your humidifier to be an aromatherapy device, too. Some humidifier models are compatible with essential oils and may include a special tray or pads on which you can place drops of your favorite oils.

Night Light

You might see humidifiers that feature built-in night lights, some of which can change color. If you like to keep the room dark when you sleep, though, it’s best to choose a model that will let you turn the light off.