My general approach to electronic appliances is to do without them. Our coffee’s made in a French press. Milk is warmed on the stovetop. I’d go without a microwave if our apartment didn’t come with one. For years and years we suffered through hot and humid New York summers without an air conditioner. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m working on admitting when it’s a good idea to take advantage of at least some of the technological advancements made in the past century.
Growing up, my parents, bless their Yankee hearts, modeled a grin-and-bear-it attitude around physical comfort. Our hot water heater, by way of example, was utterly ineffective for the majority of my childhood. My sisters and I would wake up on frigid New England mornings, tiptoe across the wide floor planks of our upstairs hallway and across the tiled bathroom floor to hop in the shower before school. If we were lucky, we’d get a burst of warm water for one solid minute before the water turned cold again. We’d often shower in pairs—the better to share whatever hot water there was—and when the heat started to wane, we’d sing:
Oooh, it’s absolutely-dutely-dutely hot! Oh, it’s absoutely-dutely-dutely hot! Oh, it’s absolutely-dutely, oh, it’s absolutely-dutely, oh, it’s absolutely-dutely-dutely hot!
The heater remained unmoved. The water stayed cold.
As an adult, I often see myself falling into a similar pattern when it comes to comfort. A humidifier? Surely that’s not something I actually need. What’s winter, really, without some suffering? Dry skin? A persistent cough? Sleepless nights and a little bronchitis? Who isn’t sick? Only a few more weeks now! Any day the heat’s gonna click off and it’ll be smooth sailing!
I think I might really need a humidifier. One or all of us has been sick for the past month and my most recent case of bronchitis is particularly uncomfortable (though I still would’t trade it for last weekend’s stomach flu). Two years ago I came around to the notion that there might be a more comfortable alternative to suffering through the bone-dry nights in our wintertime apartment. We bought two small and attractive bottle humidifiers which worked reasonably well, but they’ve since gone out of production and we can’t buy any more replacement filters. Which leads me to my next point: Buying electronics stresses me right out. Even though I know that boiling water on my stove all day is no more of an environmentally responsible choice, the environmental impact of buying an electronic nags at me. The more complicated something is, the more likely some or all of it will conk out. And what happens when these things stop working? Or shows itself to be impossible to keep clean? Are they repairable? Are they recyclable? Read enough humidifier reviews and you might quickly start wondering where all of the rejected, pilloried humidifiers have found their final resting spot. Is it the bronchitis keeping me up at night or my existential worry about the state of the planet?
I’ve decided it might be best to crowdsource. Last night I asked folks on Instagram to share their favorites. There were a lot of different responses but there were also some clear winners. I’m sharing them here with annotations from folks who’ve used them in case it’s helpful to anyone else. And I’ll be digging in a bit to see what might end up feeling best for me. If you have experience with anything here, or anything else, please feel free to chime in!
+ hOmeLabs Cool Mist Humidifier Diffuser: My sister has had this humidifier for the past year and at the time of writing I’m taking it for a test-drive in our apartment. It’s pretty compact but still sizable enough to allow for extended use. I wouldn’t call it silent, exactly, but it’s quiet. It’s not terrible to look at, it’s easy to fill and clean, and it doesn’t have a filter which is something I’m hoping to avoid this time around. Also! It’s affordable. It can also be used with essential oils so right this minute it’s filling our apartment with the sweet scent of sweet orange and lavender oil. No complaints and I don’t think it’s entirely in my head that I can already breathe easier.
+ BONECO Travel Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier 7146: Lexi recommended this one on Cup of Jo two years ago and wrote to tell me she still loves it. (A whole bunch of people also shared her enthusiasm!) It’s really small, doesn’t need a filter, and uses a recycled plastic water bottle as the vessel. Possible downsides? A bright light. (Though two different people wrote in to tell me they taped or painted theirs to solve the problem.)
+ Stadler Form O-020 OSKAR Humidifier: I think this one wins the prize as most recommended in my unofficial survey. It’s more expensive than others on this list, but it’s got a sleek—or at the least an innocuous—design and it’s also suitable for essentials oils, which is a nice bonus. Possible downside? It requires not-inexpensive filters.
+ Roolen Breath Smart Ultrasonic Cool-Mist Humidifier: A few different people pointed me toward the Roolen Breath saying it’s easy to fill and has a solid capacity (allowing it to run for ~24 hours) but doesn’t take up too much space. I like that it’s also filter-free and can be set to go into an automatic eco-friendly sleep mode when ideal humidity has been reached.
+ Muji Aromatic Ultrasonic Humidifier: Muji, long known for its small essential oil diffusers, now makes a larger model designed to humidify a bigger space. It can also be used with essential oils and doesn’t appear to require a filter. Like all things Muji, the design is simple enough and pleasantly unbranded.
+ Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist: Many folks report using this tear-drop shaped humidifier, recommended for being quiet, affordable, and effective. It’s not my personal favorite design, but so many people mentioned it that I thought I should include it here.
+ VAVA Top Fill Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier and the VAVA Coolmist Bedroom Nightstand: A handful of readers recommended both of these VAVA humidifiers. The smaller of the two seems like it could make a solid choice for a small space like my kids’ room. Possible downside? I haven’t found information about these products on the manufacturer website which makes me somewhat wary that they’re no longer in production (even if they are widely available online).
+ Honeywell HCM-350 Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier: This is the highest rated humidifier on Wirecutter and lots of people attested to its efficacy and how easy it is clean in reply to my query. It requires filters, which I’ve been hoping to avoid based on my last experience, and it’s not the most subtle design, but it was hard to ignore so many recommendations.
Any others you guys absolutely swear by (or have sworn off?). I’d love to hear.
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