On March 11th (which seems like a lifetime ago) we reported that appliance buying patterns were being affected by the spread of the novel Coronavirus. One of the findings was the sudden growth in sales of humidifiers in China.

Here's why. A mist humidifier can help with the symptoms of the virus. Covid-19 is characterised by a persistent cough, which a humidifier can ease. The virus can also cause breathing to be difficult or painful, which can be relieved with greater humidity in the air. Dry air can worsen symptoms.

If you don’t have a humidifier, you can soothe symptoms by sitting in a steamy bathroom. You can also increase the humidity in the air at home by boiling water on the hob, drying your clothes indoors or placing bowls of water around your home.  

But the advantage of a humidifier is that it can be placed near the bed and switched on overnight, allowing people who are unwell to get better rest. Rest is key to recovery. (Other recommendations are to drink plenty of fluids, take Paracetamol for pain and sooth a cough or sore throat with over-the-counter cough medication or lozenges.)

We want to be realistic about what this product can do because, as always, there's misinformation flying around. You may have read about recent studies from Beihang University and from MIT in the US showing evidence that higher humidity slows the spread of the virus. However, it’s important to recognise that these are studies that link transmission rates with weather conditions. Their findings are about climate, not indoor air quality. There's no evidence that a humidifier will do anything except make people who have the virus feel more comfortable.

Humidifiers are not traditionally a big product in the UK, as we generally consider our air to be damp enough as it is. However, they are available to buy from online retailers, although John Lewis and Currys PC World are currently out of stock.

Appliances Direct is delivering as usual (including next-day delivery) and has a selection of humidifiers. Here are some of the best.

The electriQ 2L cool mist humidifier has a water tank that will last for 10 hours of continuous use. You can buy it for £39.98 (that’s £9 off the RRP).

electriQ humidifier

The silent DeLonghi UHX17 (pictured at the top of the article) has a running time of 7 hours before its 1.6 litre tank needs to be refilled. It’s on sale for £79.98 – a saving of £18.

The Boneco U200 has a 3.5 litre tank and can deliver a cool or warm mist.

Boneco U200 humidifier

If you have more to spend, Dyson’s AM10 humidifier is available for £307.99 from Dyson in the UK. It can be programmed to turn off after pre-set intervals and has 10 airflow settings.

Today, the company has also launched a new humidifier and air purifier. It costs twice as much as its standard humidifier (£599.99) and will shortly be available from Dyson.co.uk. You can read about its launch here.

Amazon also has some options, including the Elechomes ultrasonic 6 litre humidifier for £69.99, although this item does not seem to be available for delivery until the beginning of May. We know that some deliveries have been arriving earlier than expected but we can’t guarantee that this will be the case with your shipment.

Elechomes humidifier

We have current information on which shops are still open for home delivery in the UK if you want to know more or to check on a specific retailer.

If you want to monitor the humidity in your home, there are several home monitors available that will give you information on your indoor air quality. We’ve tested and reviewed the Minut (which is also a camera-free home alarm) and the Airthings Wave Plus (which also monitors radon). You can buy the Minut (£130.32) and the Wave Plus from Amazon.co.uk (currently £269.07, but you may be able to get it at a better price from Airthings’ own site).

For more information on staying healthy at home at this time, read our articles on how to slow the spread of coronavirus with appliances you already own, how to keep your home clean during the pandemic and how to improve your indoor air quality.

Visit Home Hacks for more top tips and advice on dealing with the new normal.