Home & Living

What The Heck Does A Humidifier Do And Why Do I Need One?

10/21/2014 03:44pm ET | Updated November 5, 2014

Just in case the Internet hasn't sufficiently informed you, it's getting colder outside. And as the weather gets cooler and the air drier, you might consider purchasing a humidifier, which can alleviate some cold-weather ailments.

Humidifiers work to put moisture back in the air, but what exactly does that mean, how does it help your chapped lips and is it crucial to own one? Read on for our guide to the handy device.

So, what exactly does a humidifier do?

There's more than one type of humidifier, but at the most basic level, the device emits water vapor into a space to increase the level of humidity. When used correctly, humidifiers can help to alleviate dry skin, chapped lips, nose bleeds and other pesky cold-weather conditions. It can even help to reduce some snoring!

Are there any downsides to humidifiers?

Humidifiers do more good than bad, as long as you clean them properly. Without regular care, a dirty humidifier could promote bacteria and mold growth.

You also want to ensure that your humidifier does not make your home too humid. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ideal indoor humidity levels can vary but "the ideal levels of humidity for your living space will be less than 60 [percent] in the summer and between 25 — 40 [percent] in the winter." You can monitor the indoor humidity of your home by checking this website, and looking for an increase in condensation, mold or insects in your home.

How do I clean a humidifier?

From white vinegar and tea tree oil to using distilled water, there are many hacks to clean your humidifier. The important thing is that you do clean it -- regularly.

What kind of humidifier do I need?

There are a few different types of humidifiers currently on the market that work best for certain homes or situations. From travel humidifiers to devices that target eczema and psoriasis, we've rounded up the best of the best.

Take a look!

1
If you want to relieve congestion...
Vicks
For a humidifier that's easy on the eyes and the wallet, try Vicks Cool Moisture Humidifier. The device can run for up to 18 hours at a time. (vicks.com, $40.99)
2
If your child needs a humidifier...
Bed, Bath & Beyond
The PureGuardian 14-Hour Ultrasonic Humidifier comes with a nightlight and in a range of fun colors for kids. Ultra-quiet to ensure a good night's sleep, this humidifier is also portable. (guardiantechnologies.com, $49.99)
3
If you don't like to get out of bed...
Heaven Fresh
Though it's a little on the pricey side, the Heaven Fresh Digital Ultrasonic Humidifier comes with one important accessory -- a remote! The humidifier can also emit both cool and warm mist over its 25-hour lifespan before it needs a refill. (heavenfresh.com, $129)
4
If you want to humidify your whole house...
Home Depot
If you want a humidifier that doesn't look like one, go for the Essick Console Humidifier. This device works for 2500 square feet of coverage and can hold up to 5.4 gallons of water. (store.essickair.com, $187.49)
5
If you're looking for a stylish option...
All Modern
You need to go with the Humydo Rectangular Humidifier. The humidifier's sleek exterior is gorgeous, and it doesn't need electricity to emit mist. Set this next to your fireplace and watch it go to work. (allmodern.com, $36.89)
6
If you want a travel humidifier...
Heaven Fresh
Called the Heaven Fresh Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier, this super convenient travel humidifier only needs one thing to work -- a water bottle. Use it for areas that are up to 100 square feet. (heavenfresh.com, $29)
7
If you're looking for psoriasis relief..
Dyson
Using Dyson's Ultraviolet Cleanse technology, this Dyson humidifier emits mist that claims to be 99.9% bacteria free and has accurate climate control to prevent over/under humidification. Though it doesn't hit the market until March, this product is at the top of our list. (dyson.co.uk, price N/A)
10 Things Everyone Should Have For Winter