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In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

The Hunt for the Best Humidifier

Tuesday January 21, 2020
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Looking for the best humidifier for your baby or kid's room? We purchased 10 popular humidifiers for scientific testing using real-life side-by-side comparisons to determine which options outperform the competition. We considered effectiveness, ease of use and cleaning, noise, and additional features for convenience or a child's comfort. We also tested any filtration features that help reduce mold, bacteria, and the dreaded "white dust." Read on to see which competitors impress and which fail to meet the mark.


Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $160.00 List
$159.99 at Amazon
$30.00 List
$29.99 at Amazon
$50.00 List
$44.99 at Amazon - 10% off
$120.00 List
$89.99 at Amazon - 25% off
$38.00 List
$35.99 at Amazon - 5% off
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Very effective, high quality, limited parts, fill from the topPrice, easy to cleanCute, easy to clean base, filterless, large tankEasier to clean and useQuiet, budget-friendly, effective, small footprint
Cons Expensive, louder, some parts are hard to cleanSmall capacity, limited features, louderMist output varies, larger footprintMore noise and less effective, expensiveChallenging to clean and not as easy to use, always on light
Bottom Line Highly effective option that is easy to use but some parts are hard to clean and it is expensiveBudget-friendly compact choice with basic features and super easy to clean partsCutest package with high mist output and a family-friendly priceMore expensive option that is somewhat noisy and less effectiveNot as effective as some, but very quiet and cost effective
Rating Categories Boneco U300 Honeywell HUL520 Crane Adorable Levoit LV600HH TaoTronics TT-AH002
Ease Of Cleaning (45%)
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Effectiveness (25%)
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Noise (20%)
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Specs Boneco U300 Honeywell HUL520 Crane Adorable Levoit LV600HH TaoTronics TT-AH002
Mist Type Cool Cool Cool Cool
Warm
Cool
Technology Ultrasonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic
Tank Capacity 1.3 gal 0.5 gal 1 gal 1.5 gal 1 gal
Visible Water Reservoir Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Room Humidification Area (Sq Ft) 540 sf Small Rooms 250 sf 285 sf 270 sf
Max Run Time Not Specified Up To 20 hrs Up To 24 hrs Up To 20 hrs Up To 10 hrs
Humidity Output Control Variable Mist Control Variable Mist Control Variable Mist Control Variable Mist Control
Humidistat
Variable Mist Control
Demineralization Cartridge/Filter Yes No No No Yes
Night Light No No No No No
Empty Tank Auto-Shut Off Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dimensions (BGL) 12.3"W x 12.7"H x 6.6"L 8.1"W x 9"H x 8.1"L 9.5"W x 12"H x 9.5"L 7.6"W x 11.2"H x 12"L 8.5"W x 14.2"H x 5.5"L
Empty Weight (BGL) 6.5 lbs 2.6 lbs 4 lbs 5 lbs 2.7 lbs
Max Operation Noise Level in dB (BGL) #REF! #REF! #REF! #REF! #REF!

Best Overall Humidifier


Boneco U300


Editors' Choice Award
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$159.99
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Cleaning 7
  • Effectiveness 9
  • Noise 5
  • Ease of Use 7
Capacity: 1.3 gallon | Filter: Yes
Very effective
Easy to use
Easier to clean
Internet instructions for cleaning
Stopper could get lost

The Boneco U300 is a high-end ultrasonic product you fill without removing the tank. This easy to use humidifier has a sleek look and comes with a cleaning brush to reach the smaller spaces. We like that you can refill this option silently while little ones sleep and that it has a simple dial adjustment you can use right out of the box without a learning curve. The Boneco is the most efficient option in the review, creating more mist faster than the competition, making it a good choice if your goal is a quick increase in humidity.

The Boneco is the most expensive option in the review, making it a poor choice for families on a budget or those who plan to humidify only occasionally. It is also one of the loudest ultrasonic options in our tests. However, it is still relatively silent and far quieter than evaporative technology, where the fan can be noisy. Despite these minor missteps, we think the Boneco is an excellent choice for families looking to raise humidity levels efficiently and quickly if the price is not a concern.

Read review: Boneco U300

Budget-friendly Humidity


Honeywell HUL520


Best Value Award
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$29.99
at Amazon
See It

67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Cleaning 8
  • Effectiveness 6
  • Noise 5
  • Ease of Use 6
Capacity: 0.5 gallon | Filter: No
Inexpensive
Space saver
Easier to clean
Small capacity
Small tank opening

The Honeywell HUL520 is a compact ultrasonic choice that fits almost anywhere. We like that this basic option is easy to use and works straight out of the box with no learning curve. While the tank is small, it can hold enough for a full night at high mist volume with no need to refill. When the tank runs dry, the machine shuts off automatically. This unit has a dial adjustment, stands to fill on its own in the sink, and is efficient enough to keep humidity levels on track in smaller spaces. This unit is also budget-friendly with a low price accessible for most families.

This Honeywell has a small tank opening, so you'll need a bottle brush to reach the inside. The base is easy to clean, but the float will be easier to reach with a small straw brush. This option is somewhat loud compared to other ultrasonic products, but it isn't loud enough to keep little ones awake. It also isn't the most efficient unit we tested, but if your goal is to humidify a smaller area, then you'll find it does the job well enough.

Read review: Honeywell HUL520

Kid-friendly Cuteness


Crane Adorable


Top Pick Award
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$44.99
(10% off)
at Amazon
See It

66
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Cleaning 5
  • Effectiveness 8
  • Noise 9
  • Ease of Use 5
Capacity: 1 gallon | Filter: No
Super cute animal designs
Very effective
Quiet
Small tank opening
Can't reach all parts for cleaning

The Crane Adorable is a cute ultrasonic product that comes in a variety of animal options, with each more adorable than the next. We like that this option is a nursery standout where it can be a focal point. This unit has a nice-sized tank, is ultra-quiet, and one of the most effective options. If all this weren't enough, it has a lower price than much of the competition.

The tank of the Adorable has a small opening and has trouble standing on its own to fill. It can be harder to clean if you don't have the right tools, and our bottle brush couldn't reach the far end of the tank. The Adorable also lacks features beyond variable mist control with a single knob, and it has an inner light that is always on if the unit is in use. However, if cute is what you want, it is hard to find anything cuter than the Adorable, and the tests show it is more effective and quieter than the competition.

Read review: Crane Adorable

Low-cost and Quiet


TaoTronics TT-AH002


Top Pick Award
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$35.99
(5% off)
at Amazon
See It

62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Cleaning 5
  • Effectiveness 7
  • Noise 9
  • Ease of Use 4
Capacity: 1 gallon | Filter: Yes
Very quiet
Lower price
Wipes clean
Won't stand to fill
Limited features

The TaoTronics is an ultrasonic option with a smaller footprint and a lower price. This product is notable for being very quiet compared to the other lower-cost options, and it is easy to clean and simple to operate. These features make it a standout in the lineup even if it isn't a perfect machine.

The TaoTronics has limited features, and the tank won't stand on its own to fill. It isn't as effective as the competition, so it could be a bad choice if you want to humidify larger rooms or increase humidity quickly. Despite these minor issues, the TaoTronics could be an excellent choice for anyone looking for an economical choice with silent operation.

Read review: TaoTronics TT-AH002


The competition is steep in this battle for the best humidifier.
The competition is steep in this battle for the best humidifier.

Why You Should Trust Us


We've been testing humidifiers for over six years with our early testing, including humidity level measuring and white dust comparison not found in other reviews. The review process lead is our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician and mother of two. Dr. Spurrier uses her background in infant health to choose products with baby well-being and safety in mind. The test team leader is Bob Wofford, father of 7 and Senior Review Analyst with BabyGearLab since 2013. Bob has developed testing procedures for the products in this review and previous humidity reviews. Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, rounds out the team with her experience analyzing humidifying products beginning in 2015. With over 17 years of combined experience choosing, testing, and analyzing humidifiers, we have the expertise to help you determine what is essential and what to look for in your next purchase.

Related: How We Tested Humidifiers

The Sunpentown comes with a small brush designed for easier cleaning. You may also find cleaning easier by adding a bottle and straw brush to your cleaning toolkit.

Analysis and Test Results


For this review, we tested 11 great humidity creators side-by-side during everyday use and with scientifically measured analysis to determine each product's efficacy at creating humidity while remaining easy to clean and use, with low noise and dust. Our testing provides the details you need to make the best buying decision for your family based on your goals with an emphasis on effectiveness and ease of cleaning.

Related: Buying Advice for Humidifiers

Award-winning options create adequate humidity in a reasonable timeframe, and they are easy to keep clean to avoid exposure to the bacteria and mold that can build up inside the unit.


Value


Our testing reveals that in the land of humidifying, you often get what you pay for. However, there are still effective options that won't break the bank and products that cost a little more but have features or functionality that bring value to some families with specific goals. The Honeywell HUL520 is affordable and ranks fairly high in the competition. This product is easy to clean and relatively effective for such a small space-saving design. If you are looking for something cuter, the Crane Adorable is economical, effective, and super duper cute.

The base of the HUL520 has few small spaces making it easier to clean to avoid mold  bacteria and mineral buildup.
The base of the HUL520 has few small spaces making it easier to clean to avoid mold, bacteria and mineral buildup.

Ease of Cleaning


We view ease of cleaning as the most critical test metric because keeping your humidity maker clean is essential to ensure that it helps your child without doing harm. When water sits in the tank or base, it naturally accumulates bacteria and fungi. Although there are ways to reduce the accumulation of these troublemakers, there is no healthy way to eliminate them permanently. As your child's health protector, you must clean all parts of the unit weekly or daily to keep mold and bacteria from becoming airborne.


You might be surprised that descaling or reducing mineral deposits on the base is a necessary step in the cleaning routine to help reduce the potential for unhealthy pathogens. To start, you can reduce the required descaling effort by using distilled or filtered water with each use.

Only a few areas of the Adorable base are challenging to clean. It is easier if you invest in a straw brush that will let you reach in the float and mist output vent.
The tank opening on the Adorable is much too small for any hand to fit inside. It is a good idea to add a bottle brush to your cleaning kit so you can reach inside to ensure no mold or bacteria buildup occurs.

The Honeywell HCM-350 and the Honeywell HUL520 are both super easy to clean with scores of 9 and 8 of 10, respectively. Both products come with large tank openings for whole-hand access and limited nooks and crannies for bacteria and mold to hide. The HCM-350 top and bottom are dishwasher safe, which is a unique plus that can make regular maintenance far more manageable. The hardest options to clean scored only 5 and include the Crane Adorable, Crane Drop, Safety 1st 360, TaoTronics TT-AH002, and the Vicks Filter-Free V4600. These options either have lots of nooks and crannies (above left), limited access to parts you must clean (above right), or are challenging to sterilize or descale. Some of these units come with little brushes for reaching the small crevices, but even the manufacturer's tiny brushes couldn't help ease all of the cleaning pain. We worry parents will hesitate or avoid regular cleaning of these products, which wouldn't be a good idea.

We test each unit for effectiveness in how much humidity it can generate in the beginning as well as over time.
We test each unit for effectiveness in how much humidity it can generate in the beginning as well as over time.

Effectiveness


We test effectiveness by measuring the humidity levels in a room that is about 150 sq ft. Award winners generate a lot of mist in a short time to raise humidity levels quickly and keep them there. This functionality is key for a worthwhile mist maker.


Throughout testing, we kept conditions as similar as possible so we could focus on each product's mist creation. The effectiveness of each option to create significant humidity may not be as relevant to you as the amount of noise it creates or how easy it is to clean if your goal is to humidify a tiny room or only the area around the crib. All of the options we considered can raise the moisture level adequately in the vicinity immediately around the unit, even if they didn't affect the entire room.

The Boneco ultrasonic humidifier is a high producer of mist but somewhat noisy compared to the competition.
The Boneco ultrasonic humidifier is a high producer of mist but somewhat noisy compared to the competition.

The most effective option in this review is the Boneco U300, with a score of 9 of 10. This product creates significantly more mist than most of the competition. The Crane Adorable, frog edition, is right on its heels with an 8 (other animal editions vary). The least effective option that took longer to raise the humidity in the room or struggled to raise the moisture in the entire room is the Honeywell HCM-350. This product is the only evaporative style in the group. However, if you don't want an ultra-sonic option, it has other attractive features like the lack of white dust creation.

The TaoTronics is one of the quietest options in our tests.
The TaoTronics is one of the quietest options in our tests.

Noise


Humidifier noise can range from barely audible to sleep disruptive, depending on your sensitivity or feelings surrounding white noise. We considered the decibel levels from a sound meter placed 1 meter from the unit operating on its highest setting, as well as the kind of sound produced. Is it high-pitched? Repetitive?


We feel that "white noise" is more conducive to restful sleep than a single specific pitch that could be grating over time.

The Honeywell HCM-350 is the only evaporation humidifier we tested for this review and the fan operation is loud compared to the ultrasonic products.
The Honeywell HCM-350 is the only evaporation humidifier we tested for this review and the fan operation is loud compared to the ultrasonic products.

Five of the options earned 9 of 10 with comparatively silent operation in our tests. Each resulted in less than 40 decibels on our reader, and none are offensive or annoying or might keep a sick child awake. These include the Crane Adorable, Crane Drop, Safety 1st 360, Vicks Filter-Free V4600, and the TaoTronics TT-AH002. The loudest product is the Honeywell HCM-350, with sound over 60 decibels in our tests. This volume is the fan required for evaporation to happen. However, if your baby or child enjoys the sound of a fan, the louder white noise may not be an issue.

The flip top lid on the Air Innovations allows you to fill the tank without removing it from the base.
The flip top lid on the Air Innovations allows you to fill the tank without removing it from the base.

Ease of Use


We compare each option's user interface, features, and design, as well as additional functionality not found in all of the competition. Ideally, you want a product that is "plug and play," so you don't need to spend an excessive amount of time referencing the manual or setting it up.


However, you may not want a simple product that lacks the features and options to meet your needs. Some of the competition has a simple dial for on/off and the level of mist creation. Other options sport digital interfaces with more features to control the humidity percentage in the air or a shut off/run timer. Depending on your goals, a simple dial may be all you need or not enough.

The single variable moisture control dial on the TaoTronics is easy to use but lacks real control over the amount of moisture being produced.
The single variable moisture control dial on the TaoTronics is easy to use but lacks real control over the amount of moisture being produced.

The Boneco U300 and Levoit LV600HH earned 7s for ease of use. The TaoTronics TT-AH002 earned the lowest score with a 4 of 10. This unit has a simple dial to operate, but the reservoir is challenging to carry, fill (it can't stand upright in the sink), and put on the base.

A nice variety of humidifiers round out our favorites so there should be something for everyone in this group of winners.
A nice variety of humidifiers round out our favorites so there should be something for everyone in this group of winners.

Conclusion


Choosing the best humidifier for your little one's room can be a crucial decision. Increasing moisture in the air can be the difference between your child sleeping or continuing to feel congested. With so many potential options on the market, each with different features, finding the best product for your family can be challenging. To help you determine which humidifier is right for you, we used each option in this review to assess overall performance, ease of cleaning, and general functionality. While we feel the award-winning competitors are the best in the group, other top-scoring options might include the features you desire. Armed with our insider information from testing, you can find the best product for your little one and your wallet.


Juliet Spurrier, MD and Bob Wofford