What’s Wrong With The Honeywell Humidifier?

Angela Lashbrook
8 min readJan 26, 2021

Wirecutter is obsessed with the humidifier that untold numbers of purchasers despise

Photo courtesy of Louise Matsakis

I have a group chat with two friends that is heavily dedicated to our hatred of the Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier. Our discovery of our mutual distaste for this appliance was accompanied by the realization that we are not the only people who are this upset about it. The Honeywell humidifier is such a common and discarded appliance, it’s a common sight on Brooklyn sidewalks, where people leave items because they want to give them away or because they are literal garbage.

Photo courtesy of Adrianne Jeffries

Despite its nightmarish qualities, the Honeywell continues to be popular, probably because Wirecutter has recommended it for several years now with the claim that it is “simple, quiet, effective, and easier to clean than any other option.” None of these claims are true, in my experience. I hear the roar of this thing in my goddamn dreams. Cleaning it is one of my most hated chores because it’s difficult, time consuming, and never gets entirely clean. I wouldn’t call it effective because it’s often hard to say that it’s actually doing anything, and it is only simple in the sense that a loaded gun is simple. I understand how it works, that doesn’t mean I want one in my apartment.

“I don’t think [my humidifier] made any noticeable noise,” my friend Rebecca Rosenberg told me when I asked her about her humidifier, a tower-shaped misting humidifier that she used in her D.C. apartment. “Maybe like a really, really slight noise of the motor but really soft, and I think it helps that because it’s so tall, the motor is on the ground,” as opposed to one that rattles on a table, she says.

Rebecca was lucky she didn’t end up like me and countless others, tormented by the loudly humming, messy, impossible to clean monstrosity that is the Honeywell. The comments on the Wirecutter story that recommends the abomination brim with horror stories about the Honeywell, and whenever I see anyone online talking about humidifiers, it’s bound to be because someone got a nose bleed, since their Honeywell — it’s always the Honeywell — doesn’t actually seem to work.

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Angela Lashbrook

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.