The best humidity levels during winter is 30 to 40%. Ideal humidity is expressed as a range because different people find comfort at different levels. There are even those who won’t mind it as high as 50%.
If relative humidity drops below 30%, the indoor air becomes so dry that it has negative effects on your body and house. So, how can you naturally increase the humidity in a dry room/house without a humidifier?
The following are the several ways to naturally increase humidity in your house:
- Boil water on the stove
- Place pots of water in the house
- Shower with the bathroom door open
- Don’t drain the bathtub immediately
- Dry your laundry indoors
- Vent your dryer indoors
- Have some house plants
- Place a wet towel on the floor
- Open dishwasher door
- Get an indoor water fountain
- Use an essential oil diffuser
- Cook on the stovetop
- Use a water spray bottle
- Use an oil diffuser
- Weather strip windows and doors
In case you aren’t sure, the signs and effects of low humidity are:
- Dry and itchy skin
- Dried-out eyes
- Respiratory infections
- Nasal congestion
- Cracked wood/furniture
- Brittle and peeling books, art and paintwork
- Nose bleeds
- Static electricity
Increasing the relative humidity to ideal levels prevents you from the above problems. Your skin stays hydrated, respiratory infections are kept at bay, your furniture remains intact and static electricity is also avoided.
What Causes Low Humidity in Winter?
Relative humidity is greatly affected by temperature. That is why we define relative humidity as the amount of water in the air expressed as a percentage of the total amount that the air can hold at that temperature.
The higher the temperature the higher its potential to hold more water vapor and therefore the higher the relative humidity. In winter when temperatures are low, its potential to hold water vapor is low and hence low relative humidity.
Apart from that, most people use forced air heating systems to keep their homes warm during the cold months of winter. That also contributes to lowering your indoor relative humidity.
When the air is heated inside the furnace, some of the little moisture it still has evaporates and hence the air coming out of your vents is quite dry.
Location is a also a huge factor in determining the relative humidity level. Just like during summer, the relative humidity in arid areas like Arizona is low compared to other states like Florida.
Therefore, relative humidity in arid areas will be quite low compared to other areas during winter. Areas that are far off from the sea will have low relative humidity than areas close to the sea.
How to Increase Humidity in a House Naturally
Let us now look at the different ways of naturally increasing the relative humidity of a room or house in more details.
Use the following methods to increase humidity in your house:
1. Boil water on the Stove
Relative humidity exists in air as vapor (water in gaseous state). When we boil water, it changes state from liquid to vapor.
Boiling water can therefore be one of the fastest and most effective way of increasing the relative humidity of a room. The water vapor from the pot goes straight into the air where it changes the moisture content in the air.
2. Regularly Cook on the Stovetop
When relative humidity in your house is low, try to cook on your stove and avoid the oven as much as possible. The oven will dry out the air in your kitchen but stove cooking will add moisture directly into the indoor air.
Apart from that, try cooking your meals with pots open (without the lid) as much as possible. Food in a cooking pot always contains moisture which evaporates because of of the heat supplied to it.
The moisture from the food can greatly increase relative humidity in the house. With that, you also now know that cooking in the house instead of ordering will not only be cheap but will also improve your air quality.
3. Place water Pots inside the House
In winter, the air inside your house will be dry but it will also be warm. That makes it able to easily absorb moisture from wet surfaces (that is why wood and furniture shrink and crack if the relative humidity is too low. It also causes skin and eyes to dry out).
By having pots of water strategically positioned inside the house, the dry indoor air will pick up the water effectively increase the relative humidity in the house.
I would start by placing a pot or bucket of water near the furnace. As the furnace is pulling air from the house for heating, it will pull up moisture from the bucket and supply moist air back to the house.
If you use radiators or baseboards in your house, place ceramic or glass bowls of water near them as well. Placing a glass of water on window sill that receives direct sunlight is another good trick.
Avoid placing the water where it can spill and damage your floor or wet your rags.
4. Shower with the Bathroom Door Open
Showering, especially with hot water releases a lot of water vapor in the air. That is why during the summer, condensation occurs on bathroom windows and even toilet tank.
We can use that to our advantage during winter. Instead of just having more water vapor in the bathroom, leaving the bathroom door open as we shower allows the water vapor to saturate all of the indoor.
It goes without saying that the longer you shower the more water vapor is released into the air. Instead of taking quick showers, you can take relaxing long showers, which will release even more moisture in the air.
5. Don’t Drain the Bathtub Right Away
After you are done soaking in the bathtub, you should let the bathwater sit in the tub until it cools down. A bathtub holds a large volume of hot water which can help increase the humidity in the house.
The hot water in the tub will continue being taken up by the dry indoor air until it completely cools down. It is easy to vaporize hot water than cold water and that is why having such a large volume of hot water in the house helps.
Again, it helps to leave the bathroom door open so that moist air can flow freely from the bathroom to other parts of the house.
6. Dry Your Laundry Indoors
In summer when we are struggling with high humidity, drying laundry outdoors or running a dehumidifier is usually a good way to reduce humidity. The opposite is true for when winter kicks in.
Clothes from the washing machine contains lots of moisture which we can use to improve the air quality in the house. The good thing is that the indoor air will be warm enough to dry the clothes by extracting moisture from them.
If your laundry room has a dehumidifier, do not run it when relative humidity is low. Doing so will remove the much needed moisture from the air.
7. Vent Your Dryer Indoors
A dryer produces a lot of heat and moisture and that is why is why venting it indoors is a perfect way of increase the relative humidity in the house. It can be a problem during the summer but in winter it is great.
The other reason why I like this method is because it almost works like a humidifier. It releases moist air directly inside the house. The moisture can then saturate the dry indoor air thereby improving the indoor humidity levels.
8. Have House Plants
Plants’ leaves have small openings which open up to take in air and also release moisture. By having them in your house, you can greatly benefit from the moisture they release, apart from improving your décor.
Needless to stay, you will need to take care of your plants for them to take care of you. That means that they need to be properly watered, make sure that they get light and that they are properly nourished.
9. Use a Wet Towel
Laying a wet towel on the floor is another great way of increasing the humidity in a room. It works the same way as placing a bowl of water next to the radiator.
The heat from the heating source will pick up with water from the towel and saturate the surrounding air with moisture. Just be sure that you do not place the towel on a wooden floor which can easily be damage.
It is best to place in on top of a protective cover like a plastic cover.
10. Open the Dishwasher Door for Air Drying
Air-drying your dishes after cleaning them in the dishwasher is not only energy-efficient but it is also a great way to increase the humidity in the house. Time your dishwasher and as soon as it is done rinsing the dishes, open the door.
The dishwasher will release the steam from the dishes into the house and directly into the dry air. Other than that, the warm and dry air will rush inside the dishwasher and dissolve the water inside it thereby drying the dishes.
11. Use an Essential Oil Diffuser
A diffuser works like a humidifier. Apart from increasing the indoor relative humidity, diffusers also add sweet aroma into the air.
For best results, I would recommend using a large and powerful diffuser. Unlike small diffusers, large ones release a large volume of warm scented air into the house which is what you need to increase the relative humidity.
Regularly using a power oil diffuser will improve your indoor air quality but remember to clean it properly in between uses to prevent mold growth.
12. Consider an Indoor Water Fountain
An indoor water fountain is an incredible way of decorating your indoor spaces but it can also increase the relative humidity in the house. You however need to have it placed in the best possible place in order to reap maximum benefit from it.
Indoor fountains should be placed in the driest rooms or near heat sources (sunlight too) so that the heat can initiate the evaporation process.
13. A simple Water Spray Bottle
How about you add water into the air directly? A simple water spray bottle can help you do just that but you don’t need to go crazy about it lest you damage your home.
As it is, the indoor air will be quite dry. Spraying water throughout the house will help increase the water vapor in the air and that is how relative humidity also increases.
Instead of spraying too much water at a go, I would advise do it sparing but regularly. You will be surprised at how effective this method is, especially with hot water.
14. Weather-stripping Windows and Doors
Your indoor air could be dry because your windows and doors ae leaking out heat and moisture which apart from making your HVAC system inefficient lowers the indoor humidity.
Weather-stripping you doors and windows can help you seal the cracks and therefore retain the moisture and heat indoors. If the finances allow it, replacing the old windows and doors with modern and more efficient ones will also help.
Should You Consider a Humidifier?
Having said everything in the above section, I will also add that installing a humidifier is the best way of increasing relative humidity in the house. Some people may not need it but some will definitely need it.
For folks who live in arid areas, the air will be very dry during the cold months of winter. While trying the methods above may help, a humidifier may be your best bet.
There are portable humidifiers like evaporative humidifiers and there are also whole-home humidifiers. Portable humidifiers are cheap, don’t need any installation but can only be used to humidify a certain room in the house.
Whole-home humidifiers are installed on the HVAC system directly to add moisture into the water and therefore increase humidity of the whole house. They are expensive and also needs to be installed by a HVAC professional which is not cheap as well.
If your skin is always dry and itchy, asthma and allergy are worsening, you nose bleed, you have constant nasal congestions and other effects of low humidity, you most likely need a humidifier.
And basically those are the many ways of increasing the relative humidity in your house. I hope that this guide was helpful