Consumer Reports tests humidifiers

Features, noise, ease-of-cleaning tested

SAN ANTONIO – Colder weather brings drier air, which can cause chapped lips, itchy skin and even nosebleeds. A humidifier might help.

There are three main types: evaporative-style, which draws air through a wet wick filter; ultrasonic, which releases a fine mist into the air; and vaporizer types, which emit steam.

Consumer Reports testers looked at features, noise levels and ease of cleaning. Tests have found bacteria that can grow in every type of humidifier, but some are better than others at keeping them out of the air. Evaporative-type humidifiers are less likely to put bacteria back into the air. They may grow in the tank, but they’re not going to come out.

Consumer Reports says the Well at Walgreen’s brand evaporative humidifier (model No. LEV 320) is a good choice for a medium-sized room and costs just $32. But keep in mind that evaporative humidifiers are noisier because of the fan. If you’d prefer a quieter humidifier, consider an ultrasonic. A CVS brand (model No. GUL540V1) is top-rated for small rooms and costs just $30.

No matter which type of humidifier you choose, the safest approach is to empty, rinse, and dry it out every day. And once per week, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to disinfect the tank.

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