How Does a Humidifier Work? All Your Questions Answered

The Dreo HM311S has four onboard controls—auto, night-light, power, and mist level—plus an LCD screen to show the current relative humidity level. The smart app offers a little more control, if you need it, and the setup process is remarkably easy. Tap water has different amounts of minerals, depending on where you live. They can gum up your humidifier and breed bacteria that get spewed into the air along with water vapor. The minerals also can form a fine white powder that can lead to crusty deposits in the machine — another breeding ground for bacteria. These issues are more common with ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers.

No matter which method(s) you choose, with some knowledge of what’s causing any dullness and a dedicated approach, it’s more than possible to get shiny hair and enjoy the luscious look and feel. The key to getting (and keeping) shiny hair is to lock in the moisture, and a humidifier is a great way to keep your environment from getting too dry, especially during winter. “For someone who experiences dry skin or hair, which can also lead to dullness, using a humidifier may help to reduce dryness and leave the hair looking shinier,” Garshick explains. It’s worth noting that humidifiers do more than just stimulate shiny hair—they can support your overall wellness by promoting better sleep, alleviating seasonal allergies, and reducing snoring. Over-washing your hair means different intervals for different people, but no matter what it means to you, it can lead to a significant lack of moisture resulting in dull and lifeless hair. In order to restore the natural oils that are vital to hair health and shine, it’s important to wait enough time between washes.

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Finally, plug in the humidifier and adjust the settings according to your preferences. For more advice, including how to clean your humidifier, keep reading. Once you have a humidifier in place, it’s still important to keep an eye on the humidity levels. Anything above 50% can be a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and other germs. Higher than 60% can lead to condensation on windows and other surfaces, which also invites microorganisms into your home. As the air passes through the filter, it evaporates some of the water there.

How we picked and tested

Moreover, low humidity makes the air feel colder than it actually is. Dry air can also dry out the wood in the walls and floors of our houses. As the drying wood shrinks, it can cause creaks in floors and cracks in drywall and plaster. Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping tested many humidifiers and recommended several units manufactured by Vicks. These included the Vicks V3700 and Vicks V745 Warm Mist Humidifier. Before you purchase one, decide what type of humidifier best meets your needs.

Best With a Night Light

Read more about best humidifier for vocalists here.

Maintenance and Safety Regular cleaning is essential to prevent mold and bacteria buildup in humidifiers. Users should also be cautious of over-humidifying their space to avoid condensation and mold growth. Choosing the Right Humidifier Selecting the right humidifier involves considering room size, features, and maintenance requirements. For Florida homes, it’s crucial to find a model that’s easy to clean and efficient in energy use. When the air is dry indoors, many of us rely on humidifiers to relieve run-of the-mill respiratory symptoms. These go-to gadgets — which increase moisture levels — can do wonders for woes like dry sinuses and frequent nosebleeds (not to mention soothing parched skin and chapped lips). Portable humidifiers are intended to change humidity levels in just one room or single space.

The Wi-Fi–connected Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier offers the best combination of powerful humidification and quiet, consistent performance, yet it’s still easy enough to clean. It’s about as low-maintenance as a humidifier can get, too, with user-friendly controls and a sleek, attractive design that will blend into almost any room. We’ve been recommending the non-smart version of this Levoit since 2018, and this new model addresses every minor gripe we had with the old one and more. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not issue health warnings about minerals in the air, but does recommend using low-mineral water (such as distilled water) in your humidifier. Many ultrasonic models feature a demineralization cartridge that filters minerals out of the water to prevent the dust.

Higher humidity also helps reduce static electricity, so you can avoid those annoying shocks you feel when crossing a carpet. And, without enough moisture in indoor air, wood floorboards can shrink and creak, and everything from a leather chair to a nice guitar can develop cracks. The CarePod One is simple and sleek, and it’s absolutely the easiest humidifier to clean of any we’ve ever tested. There were some manufacturing issues with the oscillation wand, which prevented us from making this a pick in the past, however. And even though the company has addressed the problem, we still think this one is too expensive. If you want low-maintenance humidification, get the Venta LW25. At that point, your humidifier might be doing more harm than good.

What Germs Can Lurk in a Dirty Humidifier?

Parched air draws fluid from your sinuses, which can make you more likely to have nosebleeds or sinus infections. Along with helping prevent those things, a humidifier also may make it easier to breathe if you have a cold or another condition that affects your lungs. Many high-end ultrasonic units therefore have antibacterial features built in. For example, some units use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria.

While the exact instructions for how to use a humidifier depend on which model you have (more on that later!) there are a few universal tips and tricks to get the most out of your moisturizing system. Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Never mix bleach and vinegar, as doing so can create a toxic gas.

We’ve reviewed this guide, and still stand by all of our advice. We’ve updated a few links to make sure they reflect our current humidifier picks. Not only is Vitrivi’s Cloud humidifier aesthetically pleasing, its water canister also happens to be removable. And as a cherry on top, the devices is also dishwasher-safe, which ensures it gets a proper clean between sessions. We consider Dreo’s popular device a steal at under $50, since it holds up to four liters of water, and nicely includes an aroma diffuser. It also uses ultra-fine particles to evenly disperse mist throughout your room without leaving wetness behind. For a three-in-one option that humidifies and purifies air, while also working as an essential oil diffuser, look no further than this option from Bo & Bo.

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