Recent studies indicate a significant portion of the population, upon testing, had a positive reaction to one or more allergens. Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, is an inflammation of the nasal cavity that occurs when your immune system has an overreaction to airborne allergens. This reaction manifests in the form of a stuffed up or runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, congestion, itching, and coughing. In many cases it is hard to tell if you are having an allergic reaction, or experiencing symptoms of a cold. Dust mites, pollen, and pet dander are all common allergens that we breathe in every day. Below, we break down the best warm mist humidifiers available to help alleviate your symptoms and save you from going through boxes of pills and Kleenex.

How does a Humidifier Help with Allergies

Allergies enter the body through the nose. When the air in your room has a properly balanced humidity level, it allows your body to expel allergens efficiently. Allergies get worse once the air becomes too dry. When this happens, your nasal passage dries out, becoming irritated and encouraging the body to produce excess mucus to deal with the lack of moisture. Your body can only purge the allergens when there is moisture in the air. This is why people end up congested, incessantly sneezing, coughing, and are always rubbing their itchy, watery eyes. It is also the same reason why people tend to get sick once the weather starts to turn from warm to cool. There is less moisture in cool air than there is in warm air. As your nasal passages dry out, your body can’t purge allergens and bacteria that cause cold and flu.

Humidifier vs. Purifier for Allergies

Humidifiers and purifiers act in different ways to relieves allergy symptoms.

Humidifiers are a device that add moisture to the air. There are different types of humidifiers that can do this. The most popular ones are ultrasonic humidifiers, and evaporative humidifiers.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are very popular these days. They convert water into vapor, using a high-pitched frequency to spin a fan in the unit, releasing the mist into the air. Some models release cool mist, while others can heat up the water and release warm mist. Most ultrasonic humidifiers do not have a filter in them, but due to their virtually noiseless operation, they are a very attractive option for a lot of people.

Evaporative humidifiers use a fan system as well, however, they are a bit louder. After converting water into vapor, the fan blows it through a cool wick filter. The filter helps to clean the water from any bacteria or allergens that might be living in it. Wick humidifiers, while louder than ultrasonic humidifiers, are usually the better choice for allergy sufferers because of the filter they use to clean the air before releasing it into the atmosphere.

Air purifiers act in a completely different way from humidifiers. Purifiers are a waterless, filter-based unit that sits in your room and works to remove the allergens that are floating in the air. A fan sucks in the contaminated air, which is then pulled through a filter that cleans it, and that air is then dispersed back into the room. Purifiers work well to remove allergens in your environment, although regular cleaning and filter replacement is imperative to ensure proper operation and long-term use.

Best 6 Humidifiers to Buy

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifiers Review

Breathing clean, fresh air has never been easier than it is with this cool mist humidifier from TaoTronics. With a tank size of 6 liters, this ultrasonic humidifier operates at a quiet 26 decibels and provides between 20 and 60 hours of continuous use. Shooting mist 1 metre high and quickly filling rooms up to 430 square feet, output levels are somewhere in the range of 60 to 300 ml per hour. Full coverage, or specific directional coverage is also achievable using the nozzle which rotates a full 360 degrees. A built-in auto shut down feature will turn off the humidifier once the water runs out, and they’ve also included a soothing night light and water tank light on the unit to help you fall asleep. If you so desire, you have the option of shutting these off. Cleaning is recommended quite regularly to keep the unit from breeding bacteria and mold.

Capacity

This humidifier can hold 6 liters of water and run for 20 to 60 continuous hours, depending on your output level usage.

Noise

Virtually noiseless and rated at 26 decibels for a quiet night’s sleep.

Pros

  • Large tank
  • Noiseless
  • Humidifies room quickly
  • Auto shut off safety feature

Cons

  • No timer mode
  • Cannot add aromatherapy oils

AIRCARE MA0800 Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier Review

This evaporator humidifier from Aircare uses a saturated wick to filter out allergens in your home before dispersing clean, cool air. Coming in two sizes, you can choose between a 2.5 litre tank or a 3.6 litre tank to fill medium to large sized rooms. While not as noiseless as an ultrasonic humidifier, it comes with 3 different fan speeds and has a quiet night time setting as well. Humidity levels can be automatically set so the moisture in your room stays constant around the clock. As it is a wick humidifier, it will filter our impurities in the water, but also require regular maintenance of the wick itself. Failure to do so will lead to you having to replace them more frequently, as hard water can leave a build-up of mineral deposits on the wick, and impede operation.

Capacity

This model comes in two tank sizes: 2.5 liters, or 3.6 liters, and you should get at least a day of use out of these tank sizes.

Noise

While not whisper-quiet, the humidifier has low, medium, and high fan settings, with an optional quiet setting for night time operation.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Wick filters bacteria and allergens
  • Humidity level can be set

Cons

  • Filter needs to be replaced every few months

Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier Review

Sleek, stylish, and a great addition to any space, this cool mist humidifier from Honeywell will efficiently keep your home germ-free. Designed for medium to large rooms, the low setting will give you 24 hours of uninterrupted humidification from the 1 gallon tank. Easy to refill and replace (the tank lifts out of its slot), this wick humidifier is equipped with an air-washing and anti-microbial treating filter that removes 99.9% of airborne impurities. Cleaning is simple as the tray and tank can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher, and the three output levels on the top of the unit give you control over how much moisture is released. While it does lack a few bells and whistles of other humidifiers in this price range, it is very effective dispersing clean mist provided you maintain it properly.

Capacity

A 1 gallon (3.78 liters) tank set to low output will give you about one day’s worth of continuous use.

Noise

Honeywell claims this model is 30% quieter than rival products in this price range.

Pros

  • Long hours on small tank
  • Good for both medium and large rooms
  • Aesthetically pleasing to match most home decor
  • Removes 99.9% of airborne impurities
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • Regular filter cleaning
  • Filter must be changed every few weeks to months (depending on use)
  • Cannot add aromatherapy oils to the tank

Optimus U-31002 Review

For those on a budget but still want something that looks cool and does the job, this 1.5 gallon option from Optimus uses ultrasonic technology to help relieve allergies and keep away cold and flu symptoms. Providing quick humidity to your room, you can keep it cranked at full blast and it will run an entire night without needing to be refilled. You can sleep soundly knowing the automatic shut off feature will turn the unit off if it does run out of water, and a red light will also pop on to alert you. Filling the tank can be a bit tricky, as it needs to be flipped upside down and due to the design you can’t set it down on a flat surface. Light sleepers will love it as it is a quiet option and has an optional night light function included.

Capacity

This device can hold 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) of water and can give you around 10 hours on the high output.

Noise

This unit is whisper quiet.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Strong tank size to output ratio
  • Noiseless Option
  • Auto shut off safety feature
  • Optional night light

Cons

  • Refilling can be challenging for some due to tank design
  • Cannot use aromatherapy oils
  • Distilled water recommended

Air Innovations MH-505 505A Cool Mist Digital Humidifier Review

Outfitted with an anti-microbial inhibitor to help prevent bacterial growth, this humidifier from Air Innovations comes in two different colors, and is fully programmable. The digital interface on the front of the unit can be customized to your liking, giving you control over mist output, humidity levels, light brightness, and you can even turn off the sound functions of the buttons. The unit also includes a timer mode, auto shut off, 360 degree nozzle rotation for directional control, and an aromatherapy box you can add your favorite essential oils or cold and flu formula to. Giving you 70 hours (almost 3 full days) of continuous use from a 1.37 gallon tank, it is extremely well priced and the inclusion of a permanent ceramic filter makes this a serious contender for anyone in the market.

Capacity

This unit give you 70 hours of straight output from a 1.37 gallon (5.2 litre) tank.

Noise

This humidifier uses ultrasonic technology and is very quiet.

Pros

  • Great bang for the buck
  • Long lasting mist
  • Quiet
  • Feature heavy and programmable/customizable
  • Auto shut off safety function included
  • Permanent ceramic filter
  • Can be used with aromatherapy oils

Cons

  • Recommended for use with distilled water

Pure Enrichment MistAire XL Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Review

Designed in the shape of a water droplet, this 1 gallon transparent tank has enough power output to cover rooms up to 500 square feet. Keeping the air moist for anywhere between 10 hours and a full day, this unit is ETL certified safe for deep sleepers with an auto shut off safety feature and operating at whisper-quiet levels. An included night light gives you a range of blue, red, or green lights to choose from, or you can turn it off completely if you need total darkness. The unit comes with a cleaning brush for quick maintenance, and controlling the output is simple enough using the control knob and dual 360 degree nozzles.

Capacity

This humidifier holds 1 gallon of water and can give you 10 to 24 hours of continuous use. For use with medium to large sized rooms.

Noise

It’s whisper-quiet technology makes this an ideal model for bedrooms, offices, and nurseries.

Pros

  • Nice design
  • ETL certified
  • Quiet
  • Adjustable controls
  • Auto shut off feature included
  • 5 Year Warranty

Cons

  • A bit expensive compared to other models in this range
  • Refilling can be challenging for some due to tank design
  • Cannot use aromatherapy oils
  • Distilled water recommended

Conclusion

Allergies can be a pain to deal with. Humidifiers offer a natural alternative to antihistamine medication, which can eventually lose its effectiveness after long-term use. The benefits of humidification can be reaped quickly, as your body will adapt to the healthier environment, and allow you to breath easy and ditch the tissue box for good.