While one of the quickest and easiest ways to dehumidify a room is to purchase a dehumidifier for your home, it'll cost you a pretty penny—both for the machine itself and for the energy it requires. Thankfully, there are many home remedies for getting rid of the extra moisture. Intrigued? Keep reading to learn why you should keep moisture to a minimum inside your home and how to dehumidify a room.
What causes humidity in a home?
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, including "the design, materials used to build your home, and the region where you live.” Humidity can also be caused by daily lifestyle choices, such as baking, drying your wet clothes, steaming garments, and taking long showers. Essentially, any activity that can cause even the faintest level of steam can be to blame for making your home more humid.
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 cosmetic and structural damage, making paint chip on your walls and causing rot. It can also make your bed and furniture feel moist, damage your electronics, and ruin your wood furniture. Worst of all, high humidity levels 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 Lowering Humidity
If you’re looking for even more reasons to control the humidity in a room, Dr. Parikh warns that the worst side effects of too much humidity in the home fall under a person’s general health and well-being. 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. Additionally, she points out that 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 warns. "That can be life-threatening if it enters your blood or lungs."
Again, a humid home isn’t something to overlook—it’s important to know what takes moisture out of the air. Your body and mind will thank you.
How do you know if you need to dehumidify your home?
While regularly feeling clammy can be an indicator that there’s too much humidity in your home, there are other telltale signs that it’s time to dehumidify your space.
When warm air hits cold surfaces, condensation forms. This happens even more frequently when your home is humid because the moisture in the air is more likely to spot and puddle—which can eventually cause water stains—on windows, appliances, and the like. It’s one thing if you notice condensation directly over top your stovetop while sautéing or steaming something; it’s something else entirely if you notice condensation droplets randomly when none of the aforementioned lifestyle choices are at play.
Mold and mildew thrive in moist (worst word, I know) environments. If you notice that black mold is incessantly growing in your shower, toilets, tub, on your walls, or around the edges of your carpet, a too-humid home is likely to blame.
Like mold, rotting wood is caused by dampness. If you notice that the wood in your home is starting to deteriorate, it’s time to re-evaluate the humidity in your home.
How To Dehumidify a Room Without a Dehumidifier
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the goal is to keep 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).
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, other plants 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 (air plants).
3. Take Cooler Showers
Showers can quickly increase 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 airflow and keep condensation to a minimum. And, if you have a fan, be sure to flip it on.
4. Utilize Your Ceiling Fans
You know the ceiling fans you rarely turn on? It's time to wipe off the dust and put them to good use. According to the heating and air conditioning company Brennan's, the breeze from the fans evaporates excess moisture in the air, bringing your humidity levels down.
5. Grab the Baking Soda
You know that 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. Alternatively, you can buy an Arm & Hammer Disposable Moisture Absorber ($6), which is great for basements and closets.
Other products that naturally absorb moisture include rock salt and calcium chloride. That’s why popular moisture-wicking products, like DampRid Moisture Absorber ($10), are made with the latter.
6. Fix Any Air Leaks
Remember: Humidity is increased any time moisture gets into the home and mixes with a warm climate. So, if you like to keep your thermostat on the higher end of the spectrum, it’s important to be mindful of any leaks in your ceilings, windows, and anywhere else in the home, as they can exacerbate the problem.
How long does it take to dehumidify a damp room?
Like most things, dehumidifying a room takes time. That said, so long as you adjust the circumstances and add a moisture-absorbing product like baking soda or rock salt, you can expect moisture levels to even out within a few days or so. If that doesn’t work, then it may be time to look for something stronger than a DIY to dehumidify your home. Although it’s notably pricier than a box of baking soda, the GE Dehumidifier with Smart Dry ($159) is beloved by shoppers for its ability to quickly and effectively remove moisture from the air.
What is the best way to control the humidity level in your home?
Generally speaking, being mindful of both the temperature of your home and the moistness of the activities you engage in is key to keeping humidity at bay in the home. All in all, the cooler your home, the less likely humidity is to become a problem.
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.
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