Growing up, a humidifier was a clunky machine your mom pulled out when you had a stuffy nose or sore throat. It lived under the sink or boxed away in the linen closet, an over-complicated tangle of filters and buttons and wires our parents would break out on on feverish nights.
Thankfully, humidifiers have since gotten a makeover, and are now so streamlined and simple to use that you can (and should) keep them out regularly to breathe a little moisture back into your space. There are even portable humidifiers that provide some extra moisture wherever you need it—your car, the office, a hotel room—without relying on an outlet. Just charge 'em up before you go out, and breathe easier wherever you roam. Our childhood humidifiers could never...
- Andrea Collaro, Andrea Collaro is the senior director of product development and brand management for Walgreens.
- Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon based in New York City
- Kris Adair, FNP-BC, board-certified family nurse practitioner and co-owner of Adair Family Clinic and MedSpa
What types of portable humidifiers are there?
Portable or not, it helps to know the different types of humidifiers out there. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are four types of humidifiers: evaporative, impeller, ultrasonic, and steam vaporizer. Evaporative humidifiers speed up the evaporation process of the water in the tank via a belt, wick, or filter. Impeller humidifiers, aka “cool mist,” use a high-speed rotating disc. Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultrasonic sound vibrations to create mist, and steam vaporizer humidifiers heat the water in the tank then cool the water just before it exists through the nozzle.
What’s the best type of humidifier?
Walgreens' Senior Director of Product Development and Brand Management, Andrea Collaro, tells Well+Good that she recommends an ultrasonic humidifier. Why? "I think it’s the most precise, efficient, and safest way to release water vapor into the air.” Collaro says. “It uses nebulizer technology breaking water down to its smallest molecule size which allows for the most efficient room humidification, and you do not have to replace a filter which makes it very convenient.”
As for output, Collaro notes that aiming for about a 40 percent output is ideal when shopping for a humidifier. She warns, “going above 50 percent humidity level can result in condensation on the walls, floors, and other surfaces.”
Now that you're well-versed in all things humidifier-related, scroll to be united with your new portable humidification station.
Easiest to use
Sleek, simple, and small: that’s the best way to describe Geniani’s Portable Small Cool Mist Humidifier. At under a pound, Geniani’s USB-powered impeller humidifier can hold 250 ml of water to offer up to eight hours of ultrasonic mist.
- Easy to refill and clean
- Doesn’t spill water if tipped over
- Has a night light
- It only has one light function (night light or nothing)
- It only has two mist modes: intermittent and constant
When the Movtip Portable Mini Humidifier illuminates, it resembles a candle with a flame, only without the risk of a fire. The tank holds 500 ml of water for up to 12 hours of intermittent or consistent spraying. For safety, once the water level is lower than the included probe, it shuts off automatically. To charge, use the USB cord that comes with the humidifier.
- Doubles as a night light
- Leak resistant
- It uses an (included) lithium ion battery so it can’t be carried in a checked bag on a flight
- Shorter runtime (6-12 hours)
- Not compatible with essential oils
At a size comparable to a small potted plant, Fanximan’s Mini Battery Powered Cordless Humidifier packs a punch. Choose between consistent or intermittent spraying from one or two nozzles. This cube-like humidifier has an 800 ml tank ready to offer you (or your actual plants) some relief from any dryness in the air. Use the included USB charger to power this tank of a humidifier.
- Five spray modes
- Has a battery status reader
- Customizable automatic shut-off
- Only comes with USB charger
- Heavier (0.73 pounds)
- Uses an (included) lithium ion battery so it can’t be carried in a checked bag on a flight
Is that a fancy-looking pen? Nope, it’s Jisulife’s Mini Portable Humidifier. The cylindrical stem slides into any body of water to provide up to seven hours of mist, depending on which of the two spray modes you choose to use. At under two ounces, throw it in your car, purse, or carry-on bag to steer clear of any potential dry air in a hotel room. All you need to do is plug in the USB cord to charge the device.
- Small footprint for easy travel
- Works with any body of water in any container
- Quiet ultrasonic mist
- Automatic shut-off after seven hours
- Not compatible with essential oils
- Need to soak the cotton core for five to 10 minutes before use
The water tank on the Sonic Breathe Water Bottle Humidifier from Bell+Howell is a water bottle that you flip upside down to fill the machine. It features six spray settings, a night light, and stands under 5-inches tall. Even with its compact size, this Bell+Howell humidifier offers up to 12 hours of runtime. To charge, use the included AC power adapter.
- Small footprint
- Automatic shut-off
- Customizable spray settings
- Not compatible with most reusable bottles
- Only one color option
- Only accommodates one size water bottle
Best car humidifier
Small but mighty, the MightyDuty Car Humidifier pops into your car’s power outlet (aka, the lighter port) to minimize dryness while you’re on the road. At under 7-inches tall and 2.5-inches wide, it’s ready to go when you are.
- Flexibly molds to your car’s port so it’s not in the way of the gear shift
- Compatible with essential oils
- Single button control
- Super small 50 ML capacity
- Only works in a car’s auxiliary power outlet
- Short run time (2 hours)
Best for camping
Hitting the happy trails? Pack Homdis’s 3-in1 Humidifier with you. At just 11 ounces, it features a nozzle for your water bottle to attach to, two spray spouts, a night light, and a phone charger. Set it up and enjoy up to 10 hours of quietly flowing mist. To charge it, just use the included USB cable.
- Compact and lightweight
- Automatic shut-off
- Comes with a travel pouch
- It’s not compatible with most reusable bottles
- Only available in one color
Homedics makes a portable humidifier that you’d think is a water bottle (and in a weird way it kind of is.) Instead of drinking out of it, you pour 8.5 ounces of water into the device to prepare for up to 10 hours of continuous spray. Bonus, the quiet humidifier shuts off after 12 hours and, if you want a little mood lighting, you can have that too with its upper and lower rings of light. To charge it up, just use the included USB cord.
- Easy to clean
- Has a one-year warranty
- Only holds 8.5 ounces of water
- Currently, it’s only available in black or white
- The internal battery is not replaceable
Hey Dewy’s ultrasonic wireless humidifier comfortably fits in a cup holder, has an 8-hour runtime, and an angled nozzle that sends a cooling mist in the direction you point it in. The quiet, desk-friendly humidifier also offers the option to add ambiance to any space with a luminous light that you can leave on or turn off. It includes a 5-foot-long USB cord for convenient charging.
- Easy to see its water level
- Packable and lightweight
- Easy to operate
- More expensive
- Only available in white and pink
Bluestone’s Decorative Ceramic Humidifiers don’t use electricity at all! (Yes, really!) So how do they work? You pour water over the porous clay sphere while it’s sitting in the ceramic holder, and the water that the orb absorbs evaporates into the air to humidify your space. Boom—battery free.
- Only needs water to function
- Ceramic base means its fragile
- Needs to be hand-washed between uses to avoid dirt buildup
- Not the best for long-distance travel due to its spherical shape
Do portable humidifiers really work?
Yes, portable humidifiers really work. But, you shouldn’t ask a tiny humidifier to fill a ballroom-like space. They’re most useful in cars, at desks, in a home office, or a bedroom—think small spaces.
What are the negatives of a humidifier?
Nurse practitioner Kris Adair, FNP-BC, tells Well+Good that most of the negatives of a humidifier comes from improper maintenance of the device. “There is a risk of bacterial growth, mold, and other organisms on humidifier devices especially as the ideal temperature setting for humidifiers creates a perfect environment for the growth of these organisms,” she states.
While regular cleaning is recommended for everyone, Adair also details that people with an underlying condition, like asthma or allergies, should definitely keep on top of cleaning their humidifier for the cleanest water flow every use.
Can you use tap water in a humidifier?
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, says that the type of water you use is dependent on the model of humidifier you’re working with. “If the filter is catching the potential allergens and unsafe particles, then tap water is fine,”Dr. Engleman says. Check the instructions—the best water to use is really whatever the individual product notes on the label.
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Loading More Posts...