I wrote an article on best dehumidifiers a while back; it seems natural that I should write about best humidifiers.
This is another one of those categories where the vast majority of once-great brands have moved to China for manufacturing. Swiss-brand Boneco (formerly Air-O-Swiss) was once made in Switzerland, but in a bone-headed move they switched to manufacturing in China. So did Honeywell, Crane, Homedics, and other once-iconic US brands.
LEVOIT is a new brand you might have seen pop up all over Amazon. They were founded in 2011 and are based in Shenzhen, China. Avoid them.
What kinds of humidifiers are there?
Generally speaking, you’ll see three different kinds of humidifiers:
Warm Mist / Steam – These are the classic kind of humidifier that “boil” water to produce steam. These are great for use in the winter both for getting moisture into the air, as well as for adding a little heat to a room. Some people avoid these if they want to protect their children or pets from accidentally touching the heated air.
Cool Mist / Ultrasonic – These are the newer kind of humidifier that vibrates water at an extremely high frequency (beyond the range of human hearing) to propel microscopic droplets of water into the air. As these droplets evaporate, humidity is added to the room. The main drawback is that bacteria and minerals present in the water may be aerosolized.
Evaporative – Evaporative humidifiers also release cool air, but instead of using ultrasonic vibrations they take in air from the room and pass it through a moistened wick or filter. The hydrated air is released back into your room, and the filter removes bacteria and minerals from the water.
The good news is that there are options for all three kinds of humidifiers.
Best Humidifiers Not Made in China
Many of you may recognized the Winix name from my write-up on best air purifiers not made in China. Winix makes humidifiers as well, but the bad news is that they’ve moved a lot of their lower end models to China. The good news is that L200 continues to be made in Korea, according to their site.
The L200 features a 2 gallon tank and 120 hour runtime, great for those who get tired or refilling their unit every night. Bacterial growth is always a concern with cool mist humidifiers, but WInix solved that by using UV light to treat water. While there’s a lot of debate about whether UV light in air is safe due to the ozone they generate, UV treated water is perfectly safe to drink—or breathe. In fact, your municipal water supply probably uses it.
As a bonus, the unit comes with an adjustable night light, lets you direct the flow of the midst, and lets you program the humidity level through a humidstat.
Let’s hope that Winix keeps these made in South Korea.
I had to do a double-take on this one. When I bought Vicks humidifiers in the past they were all made in China.
But this little model appears to be made in Mexico, another example of the positive impact of the 2018 tariffs.
I generally prefer warm steam humidifiers to cool mist ones. While companies like Winix have introduced innovations like using UV light to sanitize mist, the nice thing about warm humidifiers is that the water is naturally boiling off to produce steam, which naturally kills off bacteria and other nasty things in the water that you don’t want going into your lungs. Another advantage is that running these in the winter (which is usually when air dries out in a home) is a secondary source for heat.
Thrilled to find this one. It will be the one I buy when my current made in China Vicks humidifier gives up its ghost, which should be any second now.
3. Aircare 831000 and MA1201 Evaporative Humidifiers
I was a bit hesitant to put Aircare on this list. They claim on their site—and I believe them—that they are the “largest humidifier manufacturers in the US”.
But what’s disappointing is that they clearly manufacture some of their units completely in China (in particular their Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers) but don’t make it clear on their Web site which are and aren’t made there. Perhaps worse, when I look at the reviews for their most popular model, the 831000, their representative in 2020 says it’s made in the USA, while customers in 2018 reported that their boxes said it was made in China. What gives?
I called them up asked them what their most popular models are. They said the 831000 and MA1201 evaporative humidifiers were. I then asked if they were made in China. Not surprisingly, they said that they are “assembled in the US, but the electrical components come from China”.
In fairness to Aircare, this is probably true of most of these products. I wish they’d just be more transparent up-front.
If you do need an evaporative humidifier, I do recommend Aircare mainly because their replacement wicks are made in the USA (although make sure you buy it from AIRCARE AUTHORIZED and not a China manufacturer posing as them). This is the replacement filter for the 831000 and this is the one for the MA1201. Whatever you do, DO NOT use Amazon’s search feature, which only shows China knock-offs and doesn’t even display official Aircare filters when you search…”aircare filters”.
If you want to avoid China manufacturers altogether, you can always buy replacement wicks at Home Depot. Here’s Home Depot’s listing for the 831000 wick.
If you’re looking to save money, Air Filter Factory does appear to have non-OEM replacements made in the USA. Here’s their replacement for the MA1201.
This Vornado Evap40 Evaporative Humidifier is made in the USA as well. Like the Aircare humidifier, it works off an evaporative system.
The main gripe I have with Vornado is that their OEM filters are made in China. In other words, you might avoid sending a portion of the $130 you spend for the unit initially, but every time you need to replace the wick, a big chunk of the $13 you pay goes to China every time you replace it.
Air Filter Factory to the rescue again. Not only are their replacement filters for the Vornado Evap40 made in the USA, they’re almost half the price of Vornado’s extortion-level pricing.
I gotta say, I love what Air Filter Factory is doing. Unlike Vornado, they’re smart enough to realize that no one will be buying Vornado’s overpriced OEM wicks. By making these wicks in the USA, they’re putting Americans to work and putting consumers at ease that these replacement wicks were made in a safe, clean, free place.
Like other evaporative humidifiers it releases cool air. Unlike other evaporative humidifiers it doeesn’t use filters or wicks. It’s pretty ingenious how it works: there’s a “disk stack” inside the unit that rotates in the water. When dry air comes into contact the disk stack, it picks up the moisture and sends it back into the air. Think of it as you pouring a thin layer of water onto a plate and then blowing on it until the air evaporates.
They do suggest using their water additive treatment which reduces the surface tension of the water and prevents the growth of germs, which is their way of guarding against
I can’t remember the last time I spoke of a product that had German engineering and was made by German workers. Granted, a lot of the parts probably come from China, but again, beggars can’t be choosers these days for certain types of products.
There are still good options for humidifiers not made in China. To ensure that there continue to be good options, reward companies like Winix, Vicks, Aircare, and Vornado for keeping things out of China manufacturer’s hands by buying one of the models below. And if you choose an evaporative humidifier, make sure to reward companies like Air Filter Factory.
Do you know of other humidifiers that are not made in China? Let us know in the comments!