While it can be easy to think you have COVID every time you are faced with a mild cold and a scratchy throat, there are many other viruses you could be sick with.

The flu and common cold, for one, are very popular viruses during the fall and winter when the seasons are changing and your body is regulating.

Assuming your symptoms are mild, you really just need to tough it out. That being said, there are some things you can do to help make yourself more comfortable while you recover. Tylenol, tissues, sleep and a good humidifier are all a good start.

A humidifier is a great device to soothe sore throats, soothe chapped lips, reduce sinus dryness and more from the flu, the common cold, COVID-19 infections and beyond. We spoke with Gary Alony, pharmacist for over 35 years and one of the lovely chemists behind the inimitable Thompson Chemists pharmacy in Soho, about what makes a great humidifier.

Click to go straight to our FAQs or our winners of the best humidifiers by category:

Best overall: LEVOIT 4L Humidifier

Levoit’s 4L humidifier has a range of up to 376 square feet and provides fast, comfortable relief from the effects of dry air. It offers up to 40 hours of mist and automatically shuts off before it runs dry.

According to Alony, it’s “quiet, easy to clean, [has a] powerful output, great diffuser, and run time.”


  • Fast relief from dry air
  • Long mist duration (up to 40 hours)
  • Automatic shut-off feature
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to clean


  • May not cover very large rooms effectively

Best budget: Magitec Cool Mist Humidifier

A black humidifier.

You can target every angle of the room that needs fresh air with its 360-degree nozzle spray. This humidifier also has a mind of its own and can turn itself off when there’s low storage of water. According to Alony, it’s “a quiet cool mist humidifier that is exceptionally low in price,” making it ideal for budget shoppers.


  • 360-degree nozzle spray for thorough air coverage
  • Automatic shut-off when the water level is low
  • Affordable price point
  • Quiet operation


  • Basic features compared to more expensive models
  • May not be as durable as higher-end options

Best splurge: Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool PH03

Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool PH03

If money is no object, you can’t go wrong with the Dyson purifying humidifier. Alony calls this humidifier “super high tech,” noting that it “has amazing features but has a high price tag” as well, but for good reason. Not only does it add moisture to the air but it captures and traps pollutants to make sure you’re breathing the cleanest air possible.


  • High-tech features
  • Purifies and humidifies air simultaneously
  • Captures pollutants
  • Sleek design


  • Expensive
  • Complex operations may require some learning curve

Best for large rooms: Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

The Everlasting Comfort humidifier has a six-liter (1.6-gallon) tank that works in rooms up to 500 square feet and lasts for up to 50 hours. You can also utilize the featured essential oil tray that circulates fragrant oils into the cool mist, giving you a pure and fresh-smelling aroma throughout your home.

Alony said this humidifier is “quiet with a powerful output. [It] runs for 40 hours and does an excellent job of diffusing essential oils.”


  • Large tank capacity
  • Long-lasting mist (up to 50 hours)
  • Essential oil tray for fragrance
  • Quiet operation


  • May be bulky for smaller spaces

Best for small rooms: Raydrop Cool Mist Humidifier Diffuser

Raydrop Cool Mist Humidifier Diffuser

For those looking for a baby-friendly or small option, consider this Raydrop. Alony calls this little machine a “great diffuser, but too small for a 100 square foot bedroom,” making it ideal for small spaces and/or small humans. And as he stated, not only is this a humidifier but it doubles as a diffuser as well, so you can fill your home with essential oils too.


  • Compact size
  • Doubles as a diffuser
  • Suitable for small rooms or areas
  • Affordable price point


  • Not suitable for larger rooms
  • Limited mist output

Best for whole house: Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier

A white humidifier.

Trap all particles in the air with this humidifier. If you’re dealing with an itchy throat or dry skin, this humidifier has UV technology to and wicking filter to help capture all minerals.

“It is a large cool mist humidifier with a filter that helps remove minerals for a cleaner mist,” Alony said. He also advised that “using distilled water can do this as well.”


  • Effective at trapping particles in the air
  • UV technology for cleaner mist
  • A wicking filter helps capture minerals


  • Regular filter maintenance required

Best for babies: Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Pure Enrichment® MistAire™ Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

This Pure Enrichment humidifier, which according to Alony is “small [and] compact with an interesting teardrop design,” gives off ultrasonic cool mist technology to safely and quickly moisturize dry air for up to 25 hours of continuous operation. It features high and low-speed settings combined with a 360° mist nozzle to help you consistently balance and regulate the humidity in your home.


  • Compact and sleek design
  • Ultrasonic cool mist technology
  • Long runtime (up to 25 hours)
  • 360° mist nozzle for balanced humidity


  • May not cover large areas effectively

Best for sleep: Vicks 3-in-1 SleepyTime Humidifier

A white humidifier.

Help your little one get a good night’s sleep with this humidifier. If they’re having trouble breathing at night, this 3-in-1 humidifier has a runtime of up to 24 hours to allow moisture to fill the room. This humidifier works best for small rooms.

Alony touted this humidifier as an “affordable, small, cool mist humidifier that is suitable for a tiny room.”


  • Specifically designed to promote better sleep
  • Long runtime (up to 24 hours)
  • Affordable price


  • Basic features compared to other models
  • May not be as effective for larger rooms

Best long-lasting: BREEZOME 6L Humidifier

A black humidifier.

The name of this humidifier speaks for itself. This is an all-in-one humidifier and diffuser lasting up to 60 hours. You can also add your essential oils with its built-in aromatherapy tray to add an aroma for the room. “[It’s] large with a good diffuser,” Alony stated.


  • Long-lasting mist (up to 60 hours)
  • Built-in aromatherapy tray for essential oils
  • Large capacity
  • Effective diffuser


  • Higher price point (when not on sale!)

Best with diffuser: GuruNanda Halo XL Humidifier & Diffuser

A humidifier.

Create a wellness oasis with the two-in-one humidifier and diffuser. You can add essential oils to the diffuser to bring in an aroma and eliminate dry air. Alony did advise that the “tank is narrow at the bottom, making it easy to tip over,” so it’s not ideal around children, but a fantastic affordable option otherwise.


  • Two-in-one functionality (humidifier and diffuser)
  • Aromatherapy option with essential oils
  • Affordable price
  • Effective diffuser


  • A narrow tank base may make it prone to tipping over
  • Not ideal for households with children


What do humidifiers do?

According to the Mayo Clinic, humidifiers are devices that release water vapor or steam to add moisture to the air (humidity) to prevent dryness in many parts of the body. They can be particularly effective for the skin, nose, lips and throat.

“Humidifiers work by taking water from the tank, preferably distilled so there is less mineral build-up after evaporation, passing it through a mechanism that turns it into vapor,” Alony stated. “Vaporizers or warm mist humidifiers boil the water releasing warm steam instead of just vapor. Boiling helps eliminate bacteria, mold, and other allergens from the air.”

What are the benefits of using a humidifier?

Humidifiers not only enhance comfort but also promote overall well-being by creating a healthier indoor environment. By maintaining optimal humidity levels, humidifiers can alleviate symptoms of respiratory issues such as coughs and congestion, making breathing easier and more comfortable.

“Adding humidity into the air adds moisture to the room and who or whatever is inside,” Alony said. “It can help loosen mucous, removes allergens, reduces bacteria and mold from the air, relieves dry skin, reduces static electricity, prevents wood from drying and warms up the air quicker.”

How do I clean a humidifier?

You mustn’t let mold grow in the tank of your new humidifier. Consumer Reports recommends rinsing, towel-drying and refilling your humidifier’s tank with fresh water every day. Once a week, the tank and base will also need a deeper clean. Replace filters and wicks, according to the brand’s recommendations.

There are a few different ways to clean a humidifier, but CR advises using water and distilled white vinegar. Here are a few specific steps to get the job done.

  • Remove the tank from the base and add either 1 cup of vinegar or ½ cup each of vinegar and water to the well of the base.
  • Reach into the crevices and scrub in the well using a toothbrush, cotton swabs, or another gentle cleaning tool. Rinse until no vinegar smell remains and then towel dry.
  • Pour 1 cup each of vinegar and water into the tank. Cap the tank and let it soak for 20 minutes, swishing or shaking periodically. Pour out solution and rinse until no smell remains, then towel dry.

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