High humidity can cause a room or house to become clammy, musty and overall uncomfortable. Not to mention, high levels of humidity will cause dampness and excess moisture that can lead to mold, mildew and other bacteria. Consequently, it can be very bad for your health and your family.
Luckily, there are many ways to improve your home environment and get that humidity to calm down. Things like improving the air circulation or installing a dehumidifier are effective ways to lower the humidity.
How to Dehumidify a Room
How to dehumidify a room depends on the size of the room and how humid it is. We’ve found and tested some popular and effective ways to successfully lower the humidity in a room. Some methods are cheap and quick, while others require a bit more effort.
Rock salt is a natural hygroscopic material that not only absorbs moisture, but also stores it — similarly to dehumidifiers. However, rock salt is completely natural, non-toxic and requires absolutely no electricity.
Rock salt is a crystal mined from underground and taken to a special facility. Here, the salt crystals are extracted and then sold as we know it. There are many reasons why people love to use rock salt as a natural dehumidifier. Two of those are its affordability and non-toxicity.
You can quickly construct your own rock salt dehumidifier using two buckets or any other containers. The main requirement is that the two containers can be stacked. Here’s how to do it.
1. Drill, Drill, Drill
Start by drilling holes in the bottom of the top bucket. Additionally, you can cut a few holes around the sides of the top bucket.
2. Add Salt
After placing the drilled bucket into the bottom bucket, add your salt. There are no exact measurements to go for, but try to fill it a quarter of the way.
3. Place Strategically
Place your homemade dehumidifier in a strategic spot where it can collect the optimal amount of moisture. If available, you can place a fan close to the bucket — the air will help to guide the moisture into the salt-trap. As a result, the rock salt will extract moisture from the air and collect it in the bottom bucket.
- Readily available.
- Easy DIY.
- Only for short-term use.
DampRid is a product designed to remove moisture from small areas, such as a bedroom, greenhouse or even RV. It’s available in various forms, including a hanging packet, spreadable powder and a bucket.
It uses calcium chloride that effectively removes moisture from the air, hardens and eventually becomes solid masses. Calcium chloride crystals are generally white or overall colorless. However, they can “rust” slightly over time.
DampRid is incredibly affordable, costing around $10. Homeowners like DampRid because it’s very user-friendly — you get to visually monitor its effectiveness. Plus, it doesn’t require any maintenance and creates no mess.
You simply follow the included guidelines on how to use it. Hanging moisture absorbers are excellent for closets and pantries, while the buckets can cover larger areas.
- Easy to use.
- Requires replacements and refills.
Dri-Z-Air is another product similar to DampRid. It consists of non-toxic calcium chloride crystals that are effective moisture-absorbers. Unlike DampRid, Dri-Z-Air is simpler and basically comes as crystals in a large bag or container. They don’t come in different forms such as hanging absorbers.
However, you can buy a Dri-Z-Air DZA-U Pot, which is made of recycled plastic. You get a 13-ounce refill bag to get started. The pot consists of a top and bottom part — the top contains the crystals and the bottom collects the water.
As the crystals absorb moisture, they’ll begin to disappear. Once they’re low in counts or completely gone, it’s time to refill. You can also make your own container, here’s how:
1. Prepare a Colander
Start by lining a plastic colander with vinyl screening — then fill it with Dri-Z-Air crystals.
2. Grab a Bowl
Find a big bowl or bucket where the colander fits on top. Place it in the bowl or bucket to catch the liquified crystals.
Dri-Z-Air is easy to use and once all crystals are liquified, all you have to do is dump the contents in the toilet or sink. Because the crystals are non-toxic salts, they’ll merely create a brine that won’t harm the environment or sewer.
- Easy to use.
- Requires refills.
If you’re standing with a humid-emergency, grab the baking soda. Baking soda is a product that we usually have right in the pantry or kitchen cabinet. It creates yummy cupcakes, but it also absorbs moisture.
In addition, baking soda is very affordable and works effectively in smaller rooms or enclosed spaces. It’s also simple to use.
All you have to do is put some baking soda in a bowl or open container. Then place it in the humid room or area and it will slowly absorb moisture from the air. You can occasionally stir the powder around as it clumps when absorbing moisture.
Another plus for baking soda is its ability to absorb odors as well. When the humidity is high and there’s significant dampness, musty odors are likely also present. The baking soda will help to keep the bad odor to a minimum.
- Affordable (most likely already in your cabinets or pantry).
- Absorbs odors as well.
- Only effective in small areas.
If your home is humid, the most effective way to get rid of the dampness is by using a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are devices that consist of a small fan, compressor, coils and refrigerant. They draw air through the fan and then extract moisture by cooling and reheating the air.
The extracted moisture is then collected in a bucket or drained through a hose. Dehumidifiers come in a range of sizes and types — refrigerant (explained above) is the most common. However, desiccant dehumidifiers are also popular and effective options.
Unlike the natural methods we mentioned above, dehumidifiers will need to be plugged into an outlet. In addition, they can cover large areas and even a whole house depending on their capacity.
- Designed to dehumidify a room.
- Effective in bigger rooms and areas.
- You’re able to control the humidity.
- Uses a significant amount of electricity.
If you have standing or ceiling fans in your home, running them throughout the day will improve air circulation. Enclosed rooms are often more humid because the moisture has nowhere to escape. By running a fan and opening a window, you can bring some fresh air in and thereby dehumidify the room.
- Improves the air circulation within a room.
- Fans can be noisy.
Air conditioners work similarly to dehumidifiers as they draw air from the room and cool it. The only difference is that dehumidifiers disperse heated air back into the room while air conditioners dispose of it outside. Consequently, running an air conditioner can help to dehumidify a room.
Some air conditioners are equipped with a dehumidifying function — if yours is, use it when the AC is on. This can also help to save energy as you won’t need a dehumidifier on the side.
- Effective at dehumidifying a room.
- Cools the air in the meantime.
- Uses a significant amount of electricity.
We usually associate humidity with the warm summer months, but during the winter, it can become quite humid indoors. By warming your house using dry heat, you can effectively keep dampness and moisture at bay. A space heater is an excellent dry heat source.
- Effective during the winter.
- Warms your house as well.
- Can be difficult to use around children and pets.
What Causes Humidity in a Home?
Now that we know some effective ways to dehumidify a room, it’s time to take a closer look at the source. In fact, countless things can cause the humidity to rise indoors. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most common causes of high humidity in the home and what you can do about it.
Poor ventilation is one of the main culprits of high humidity inside the home. We often don’t think about it, but opening a few windows is important to get a change of air. Let the old humid and damp air run out and get a much-needed breeze going.
Appliances such as washers and dryers will also create a significant amount of humidity. While the appliances are running, work a fan or open a window to let some of the moisture escape.
Leaks and water damage are unfortunate, but they can happen, especially if your plumbing is old.
If you have a leak somewhere in your house, the relative humidity is likely going to be higher. Consequently, leaving a leak will cause further damage and can lead to mold if not fixed and dried quickly. Call in a professional for an assessment to find a solution quickly.
Having indoor plants is an excellent way to improve air quality. A study conducted by NASA showed that certain species have been shown to absorb chemicals and other pollutants such as VOCs (1). While NASA recommends having one plant per 100 square feet for effective results, you may want to rethink this if humidity is an issue.
Plants require water to live; therefore, having an abundance of greens inside your home will raise the humidity. Consider moving your plants to a balcony or keeping them close to a window.
Having a fireplace in your home is an effective and cheap way of warming your house — not to mention how cozy it can be on snowy days. However, you may want to reconsider where you store your firewood. You see, wood absorbs moisture, so it can raise the humidity if stored indoors.
Signs of Humidity Problems in the House
Humidity isn’t always a bad thing — too low and it can be uncomfortable. It’s important to create a balance. However, too much humidity can lead to a few issues, not only for your house but also for your health. Here are a few signs that you have humidity problems in your home:
- Condensation: As you’re staring out of the window on a crisp winter morning, you might notice water beading on the glass. This is a tell-tale sign that there’s too much moisture inside your house.
- Mold spots: Mold is the last thing we want to see within the comfort of our home, but it can happen if the humidity is high. Check the walls, floors and ceilings for any signs of mold. If you see mold, call a professional for assessment — they can run tests to ensure it isn’t black mold.
- Musty odor: If you have excess moisture in your house, a musty odor is likely present. You might notice this in the basement, entrances, garage and crawl spaces. Dehumidifying your home should help. If not, the musty odor could also be a sign of mold.
- Allergies: Dampness has been shown to affect your health, especially if you’re allergic or asthmatic. It can cause respiratory issues with symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and infections (2).
How to Measure Humidity
The points above will show that you have a problem with humidity within your home, but how high is the humidity? It can be good to know just how high it is, especially since it’s recommended to keep the humidity below 60 percent. Luckily, it’s easy to check your exact humidity levels using a hygrometer.
A hygrometer works by measuring the moisture in the air. These devices are very affordable and widely available in hardware stores and online. In addition, most hygrometers also have a built-in thermostat since temperature also plays a significant role in the humidity.
All you have to do is place the hygrometer in a room and it will monitor the humidity. You’ll then get a reading of the relative humidity (RH) in percentage.
The relative humidity is the amount of moisture found in the air at a specific temperature compared to how much it can hold. In other words, when the relative humidity reaches 100 percent, the air simply can’t hold the vapor anymore (3).
Reasons to Control Humidity
Not only can high levels of humidity be uncomfortable, but it can also cause a few health effects. Here are a few reasons why you’d want to control the humidity in your home:
- Increase in germs: Germs, also known as microbes, are what cause infections. Some organisms thrive in warm, humid environments and spread quickly in these conditions. Keeping the humidity low can help to keep them at bay.
- Dust mites: Itchy skin and triggered asthma? You’re probably sharing your bed with dust mites. Dust mites are found within mattresses, pillows, carpets and upholstery. These microscopic pests thrive in humid conditions and will trigger allergies and asthma. They flourish in humid conditions, so try to keep the indoor humidity below 50 percent (4).
- Mold: Having mold in your home can affect your health in many ways, or not at all. Nevertheless, it’s never wanted indoors as it can trigger allergies, cause headaches, nausea and red eyes. Keeping your relative humidity between 30 and 60 percent will keep mold at bay (5).
Tips to Help Reduce Humidity
Running a dehumidifier or keeping a bucket of rock salt are effective ways to dehumidify a room. However, sometimes a few simple changes to everyday activities can help to keep a balanced humidity. Try some of the following tips:
- Quick showers: Long hot showers will create dampness that’ll spread throughout your home, causing the humidity to rise. By shortening your showers and lowering the temperature, you can reduce the humidity.
- Ventilate your kitchen: When we cook, we create heat and steam and this can raise the humidity in your house. Therefore, try to cover your food while cooking or run a fan or exhaust fan.
- Open windows: Keeping windows closed at all times will cause a build-up of humidity. When the outside humidity is low, open a few windows and let some fresh air come inside. You can check the outside humidity online.
- Vent fans: Vent fans are found in the kitchen and bathroom of most homes, but many fail to use them. Make it a habit to run the vent fan in the kitchen while cooking and in the bathroom after showering.
Creating a Balance
Healthy living is all about balance — too much humidity is bad but so is too little. By creating a balance, you can improve your health and your home environment.
There are many effective ways to dehumidify a room, depending on which method you prefer. Natural methods such as rock salt and baking soda are excellent for smaller areas, while larger rooms will require a dehumidifier or AC.
In addition, it’s essential to look out for humidity issues, such as mold and water beads. Excess moisture and dampness can cause several health issues, such as triggering allergies and respiratory problems. Luckily, a few simple changes to everyday activities can help to keep humidity levels to a balanced level.