When you’re trying to dehumidify a room, you go straight for the dehumidifier. And while dehumidifiers work great, sucking the moisture out of the air like a pro, they can also be incredibly costly—both for the machine itself, and with the energy they use. Surprisingly, there are many other ways you can get your humidity levels to the recommended level, and all of them are completely natural.
What causes humidity in a home?
While Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, says there are many things that can cause humidity in the home that you can’t control—like “the design, materials used to build your home, and the region where you live,” it’s also caused by things you do every day.
Raising the humidity levels in your home can occur with any task that adds moisture to the air. That means one day it could be due to all the clothes you’re drying in the dryer, and another is could be due to all that banana bread you’re making. Even a long shower ups the humidity in your home, steaming up your mirrors and leaving condensation on your walls.
Reasons to control humidity
While a little humidity can be a good thing—especially for your skin!—having too much in your space can cause issues with your home and your health. When moisture builds up in your home, it can cause damage, making paint chip on your walls and causing rot. It can also make your bed and furniture feel moist, damage electronics, and ruin your wood furniture. Your skin might also feel clammy indoors.
Too-high humidity in your home also creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow, which can cause damage to your walls, carpets, books, clothes, and—most importantly—your health.
Health reasons for controlling humidity
While high humidity levels in your home can result in costly repairs, damage to your health and well-being can be much harder to fix than peeling paint. According to Dr. Parikh, it can be especially dangerous for those with allergies or asthma. “For allergy and asthma sufferers, humidity can predispose someone to having increased dust mites and mold, which are both triggers for asthma attacks and allergic reactions,” she says.
Dr. Parikh says mold growth in your home can also cause a dangerous lung reaction called hypersensitivity pneumonitis in some susceptible people, which causes inflammation in the lung tissue and can make breathing difficult, as well as cause permanent lung scarring. “Also, if you’re immune compromised with cancer or an immune deficiency, you can get a mold infection,” she says. “That can be life threatening if it enters your blood or lungs.”
How to dehumidify a room without a dehumidifier
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the goal is keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity, and no higher than 60 percent relative humidity. If you’re not sure what yours is at, you can keep tabs by getting a moisture or humidity meter ($10, amazon.com).
To avoid the cost of buying a dehumidifier—which can be well over $200—first try out one of these natural methods below.
1. Open windows and doors
One of the easiest ways to dehumidify a room is to open up the windows, says the National Asthma Council. Doing so lets in fresh air, improving the air circulation in the room and—when you keep your inside doors open—within your home.
2. Get humidity-lowering houseplants
While rainforest plants have a humidifying effect on the air in your home, some do the opposite and absorb humidity. According to Gardening Know How, the best options for reducing moisture in the air are the peace lily, English ivy, parlor palm, Boston fern, and tillandsia—aka air plants.
3. Take cooler showers
Showers can quickly up the humidity in your home. To prevent the issue, try to use cooler water (super-hot water isn’t good for your skin, anyway!) and keep the bathroom door open to increase air flow and keep condensation to a minimum.
4. Utilize your ceiling fans
You know the ceiling fans you rarely even turn on? It’s time to wipe off the dust and utilize them. According to the heating and air conditioning company Brennan’s, the breeze from the fans evaporate excess moisture in the air, bringing your humidity levels down.
5. Grab the baking soda
You know baking soda is great at absorbing odor—especially in your fridge. Well, it’s also great at absorbing excess moisture in the air. Napoleon Heating & Cooling recommends leaving a box open on a window sill in any room that tends to be more humid than others.
See? Dehumidifying your home without a dehumidifier isn’t as hard as you think. With these natural remedies on hand, your space will stay at just the right level to keep you healthy, happy, and comfortable.