In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Vicks Filter Free V4600 Review

Quite and inefficient option with an average price and few features
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Price:   $80 List | $47 at Amazon
Pros:  Quiet, small footprint, stands to fill
Cons:  Not very effective, few features
Manufacturer:   Vicks
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and Bob Wofford  ⋅  Sep 16, 2018
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Ease of Cleaning - 40% 5
  • Effectiveness - 30% 5
  • Noise - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 10% 5

The Skinny

The Vicks Filter Free V4600 is a compact and quiet operating ultrasonic humidifier. It has an average list price and a basic variable dial user interface that is simple but lacking in programmable features. This unit registers less than 40 decibels at high levels and it has a small footprint so it can be used in almost anywhere. However, the humidity levels of this product are low from the get-go and continue to stay less than most of the competition at one hour. While some parents may be attracted to a brand name they know or the quick setup, we think there are better options with similar or cheaper prices but higher overall performance results.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Most people are familiar with the traditional Vick's Vapor Rub that came on the scene about 30 years after the company started in 1890. Vick's continued this trend with other health and wellness products including throat drops, cough medicine, and the ever-popular NyQuil. Vick's also makes thermometers, vaporizers, humidifiers, and steam inhalers. Vick's is now owned by Helen of Troy Limited a consumer products group that includes OXO®, Hydro Flask®, Vicks®, Braun®, Honeywell®, PUR®, and Hot Tools®.

The Vicks Filter Free is a simple ultrasonic humidifier with a quiet but ineffective operation.
The Vicks Filter Free is a simple ultrasonic humidifier with a quiet but ineffective operation.

Performance Comparison


With the lowest overall score in the group, the Vick's humidifier didn't impress testers.


Despite a high score for virtually silent operation, this unit earned below-average scores for the majority of metrics we consider.

The base of the Vicks has some nooks and crannies that can be more challenging to clean  even with a straw brush. Specifically  the float and lower corner have areas that are hard to reach.
The base of the Vicks has some nooks and crannies that can be more challenging to clean, even with a straw brush. Specifically, the float and lower corner have areas that are hard to reach.

Ease of Cleaning


The Vick's regular cleaning and maintenance is fairly involved which earned it a below average 5 of 10 for this metric. According to manufacturer instructions, you'll need to clean the tank and components with vinegar on a regular basis with routine bleach soaking to remove trace mold or bacteria not removed during the vinegar process. While not difficult, the tank and base do have some small spaces that are challenging to reach and clean well.

The top of the mist tube diverter on the Vicks Filter Free is easier to clean than some of the competition with very small spaces  but you'll need a bottle brush to reach inside the mist tube.
The top of the mist tube diverter on the Vicks Filter Free is easier to clean than some of the competition with very small spaces, but you'll need a bottle brush to reach inside the mist tube.

The opening of the tank is larger than some of the competition, and smaller hands will fit inside. It is still easiest to clean using a bottle brush, and you'll definitely need the brush to reach the bottom of the mist tube.

The Vicks is not as effective as the competition with both a slow start to increase humidity and a lower humidity at the one-hour mark than most of the other units we tested.
The Vicks is not as effective as the competition with both a slow start to increase humidity and a lower humidity at the one-hour mark than most of the other units we tested.

Effectiveness


While the Vick's has a slightly higher capacity than some of the competition, it only earned a 5 of 10 for effectiveness with less ability to provide adequate humidification for the room in a timely manner. Our tests indicate that from the get-go it doesn't generate as much humidity as the competition and this trend only gets worse over time with the disparity between products growing exponentially over time. At the end of 60 minutes, this unit had created a less humid room than eight other options we tested. This lack of humidity means it is unlikely to meet your needs whether they are only the crib area or the entire room.

Noise


This unit generates less than 40 decibels of sound when running at the highest level, which earned it a 9 of 10 for noise. The Vick's is a very quiet product compared to much of the competition and had no real noise outside occasional bubbling when water moves from the tank to the base. However, even if silence is your top goal when searching for a humidifier there are 3 other top scorers and 2 of them have higher overall scores, though similar effectiveness.

The single dial on the Vicks is easy to use  but the lack of programmability and versatility hurt its overall ease of use results.
The single dial on the Vicks is easy to use, but the lack of programmability and versatility hurt its overall ease of use results.

Ease of Use


The Vick's has a simple single dial operation but the lack of adjustable features hurt its ease of use score earning it a below average 5 of 10 result for this metric. The variable output dial is easy to use and can be adjusted to increase or decrease ist output as desired. However, the lack of humidity control or programmability means you'll need to keep a watchful eye on the unit to keep your humidity levels under control.

This unit is easy enough to fill and the tank stands on its own in the sink. The tank has a carry handle and is relatively lightweight. The opening is large enough for filling but you can't refill the tank without removing it which isn't as user-friendly as filling it in place while your baby continues to sleep peacefully.

The tank on the Vicks has a large opening making it easy to fill and clean if your hands are small enough.
The tank on the Vicks has a large opening making it easy to fill and clean if your hands are small enough.

Manufacturer Video


Getting started guide:


Regular cleaning instructions:


Juliet Spurrier, MD and Bob Wofford