There’s nothing I like more than shoving the front door of my New York apartment open and sucking in a bunch of air that wants me dead. Things aren’t much better indoors. Sorry to tell you, but the air in your home is a lot of what’s floating around the outdoor hellscape (and sometimes, worse)—just even drier.
Making your home air-tight isn’t the answer (you’d suffocate), but you can buy machines that purify and humidify the air indoors. Or, to save space, one that does both, like Dyson’s new Pure Humidify + Cool. Dirty, dirty air is drawn in from 360 degrees around the base of this machine, and clean air is pushed through the ring to circulate throughout your home. I’ve been using it for some time, and while it’s expensive, it has the lowest maintenance of any humidifier I’ve tried, and that alone makes it worthwhile.
There’s a lot of bad air around us. Leaky areas in a building, combined with air pressure differences outside and inside, mean that volatile organic compounds (VOCs, like from burnt fuel and wildfires), carbon dioxide, and allergen particulate matter are constantly making their way into the sanctity of your home (and lungs). Even the things you bring into your home poison the air; indoor plastics, furniture, paint, and flooring off-gas noxious fumes.
Like a lot of purifiers, the new Dyson uses HEPA filters to trap 99.97 percent of these VOCs, viruses, allergens, and other particulates as small as 0.3 microns—and it does the job well, just like the last Dyson purifier I tested. It might be worth the extra $100 to get the Cryptomic version that filters out formaldehyde, but I wasn’t able to test it.
One of the things that makes the Pure Humidify + Cool stand out over the rest of Dyson’s lineup is how it doesn’t rotate at the base to circulate air. The weight of the water sloshing back and forth would strain the unit’s motors too much. Instead, the two flat nozzles that expel air rotate at either a 45- or 90-degree angle, or you can use Breeze mode to have them oscillate at different rates to simulate natural wind. If you don’t want to feel this cool burst on your face, you can reverse the blow so it comes out the back. You can also control it with Siri and Alexa!
As you might have gathered from the name, there’s also no heating option in this model. Dyson engineers told me it’d just heat up the water in the humidifier reservoir and cause issues.
Speaking of humidifying, there’s a good chance your home has less humidity than the Sahara Desert. Humidity in the world’s largest desert sits around 25 percent on average, and a home with good weather-sealing can range as low as 10 to 15 percent (depending on the season). That’s why you get dry skin, and it could contribute to you getting sick.
Humidified air cuts down on a virus’ ability to infect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study simulating a coughing person infected with influenza and found that raising humidity levels devastated the virus particles’ ability to infect. With indoor humidity at 23 percent, 70 to 77 percent of flu virus particles were able to cause infection an hour after being coughed into the air. When the researchers raised the humidity to 43 percent, only 14 percent of virus particles remained infectious. Within 15 minutes, most of the virus particles became inactive in the damper air.
This new Dyson figures out the best indoor humidity level by drawing on local weather data, which it reads through the Dyson Link app. When your home is humidified to these recommended levels, you can turn down the thermostat to save on heating because the same temperature will feel warmer when the air is wetter. Your skin will feel better, you will feel better, and wooden furniture and instruments won’t dry out and crack as often.
How does it work? Evaporative humidifiers like the Dyson usually rely on soaking disposable filters in water and letting them—wait for it—evaporate into the room. They don’t release minerals into the air like ultrasonic humidifiers, but you will still have to buy and replace filters.
There’s often a lot of maintenance work that goes into keeping a humidifier clean and in working order. For example, even if you replace filters often, you might still end up with some mold. Filters also aren’t always easy to get. Not to mention that these machines typically are not easy to clean, with mold building up in the water pipes and reservoir; and whatever is in the tap water you fill them with, you’re putting it into your air.
The Pure Humidify + Cool is different. It shoots the inside of its water pipes with UV light to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria from the water before expelling it as vapor into your home. Its filters also last much longer—even after a month I didn’t find anything nasty living inside my unit.
On the display screen and in the app, you can see how much time is left until you need to do a deep-clean to descale the built-up minerals from all the water-handling pieces, from the reservoir to the water pipes (about 600 hours if your water is hard and about 2,000 hours if your water is soft).
And cleaning it is dead simple. For a deep-clean, first you need to fill up the water tank. The good thing is the opening is so big you can fill it from a tub faucet, and the three tiny wheels on the bottom of the tank make it easy to wheel it back without throwing your back. Then, dump in a citrus powder packet, put the tank back into the base, and hit the self-clean button. You get three packets of citric acid powder in the box, but you can buy any non-branded citric acid powder when you’re out or use another acidic solution like vinegar. That’s it.
Dyson claims its 1-gallon tank holds enough water for 36 hours of humidifying, and this is mostly accurate. When it was running full-speed constantly, I got close to 36 hours, and when it didn’t have to run as often, it’d last for several days.
The Best All-In-One
The magic of the Dyson is that it combines purifying, humidifying, and cooling into one, beautiful act.
The Honeywell HCM350W, the most impressive evaporative humidifier until the Dyson came along, has a 1-gallon tank as well, but it only runs for 24 hours on its lowest setting. And yes, the Honeywell is way cheaper, but it’s just a humidifier. Add a good purifier like the $650 Coway Airmega 400S, one of my top picks for a large room, and you’ll get close to the Dyson’s $800 price tag. But you lose more floor space in the process, and you won’t have as problem-free an experience.
The Pure Humidify + Cool is an expensive machine, but its humidifier is so much cleaner and easier to use than the competition, that it’s worth it. Especially if you’re in the market for a purifier and a humidifier.