As we approach the winter season, reduced humidity is a problem many households face. Our skin starts to crack, eyes get dry and uncomfortable. Kids start zapping each other with a well placed static electricity discharge. Allergies are worse than usual and many fall prey to viruses and illnesses.
One of the ways around this is to get a humidifier and increase the humidity in the house. However, a good humidifier can be pretty expensive and we are not even counting the running costs of operating the humidifier yet.
Fortunately, getting a humidifier is not the only way out. There are plenty of other innovative ways in which we can humidify our homes naturally without a humidifier. Most of these ways are very friendly on the wallet as well and would totally suit any homeowners on a tight budget.
Beside bringing you through how to increase the humidity in your home naturally, this article will also shed light on what is the ideal humidity to aim for and what happens when the air is too dry.
What Is The Ideal Indoor Humidity
Comfortable air depends on four main elements: temperature, cleanliness, airflow circulation and humidity. Optimization of these four parameters will help you achieve an extremely comfortable environment for your home. Today we will be focusing on indoor humidity and how to optimize it.
A good humidity level is one in which we can get the most amount of comfort and where it is most conducive to our health. Most studies and research seems to agree that a comfortable humidity level is between 40% to 60%.
In terms of health, this level of humidity is also considered to be the most optimum for health. The survival and infectivity of airborne transmitted bacteria and viruses are minimized by exposure to relative humidity of 40% to 60%. This greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission from these pathogens. Read our guide here to find out how much fungi growth increases by when your humidity levels are out of control (hint: its a double digit increment).
Harmful Effects Of Low Humidity
Dry Skin and Dry Eyes
One of the direct health effects of low humidity is causing dryness in the mucous membranes in our body. The body part that is most commonly affected is our skin because it has the largest exposed surface area to dry air. Skin dryness leads to cracking and peeling which can be uncomfortable and even painful for some. For those with allergic disposition, eczema ensues and causes widespread skin issues.
Another common complaint with low humidity is dry eyes. Our eyes are extremely delicate and require constant lubrication by our tears to ensure that it is comfortable and functions well. During periods of low humidity and dryness, the outer layer of our eyes dries out and the lubrication effect reduces. This results in a feeling of something sandy in the eyes and results in increased unwanted tearing.
Increased Bacteria Growth
In a study comparing cultivable bacteria in a typical urban area, they found that relative humidity had a positive correlation with bacterial aerosol concentration and this was statistically significant.
There are also some bacteria that like a dry environment. One such bacteria is Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is an airborne bacteria that can cause pneumonia or other severe respiratory disease. Tests on it shows that it can survive longer when exposed to low or high relative humidity levels.
Generally speaking, bacteria survive longer in very dry or very wet environments. Keep them away by maintaining your home humidity levels between 30% – 70% and keep your family safe from the disease they cause.
Do check out our guide on how to dehumidify the home naturally as well!
Increased Virus Survival
The events of COVID 19 have given us a stark reminder of how deadly viruses can be. However, way before the pandemic, many countries have already been struggling with the effects of influenza. In the United States, about 12000 to 61000 people die from influenza annually since 2010.
The available data on virus survival shows that their infectivity and survival are the lowest at relative humidity between 40% to 70%. They demonstrate the greatest activity at a low relative humidity level of 20% which decreases rapidly when the humidity level is increased to 60%.
In other words, a dry environment and low humidity favor virus survival.
Humidity Control Is Essential For Health
Data doesn’t lie. There are numerous studies showing that the optimum relative humidity level for human health is between 40% to 70%. Inappropriate humidity levels promote the growth of airborne pathogens and chemical irritants that are not compatible with health. Harmful health conditions like asthma, allergies, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disorders (COPD), respiratory illness are all shown to be increased in places where humidity is not controlled properly.
How To Increase Indoors Humidity Without Humidifier
Now that we have established how important humidity is to our health, let’s take a look at how we can humidify our house naturally and easily without a humidifier.
Decorate With Houseplants
Is your house lacking some greenery? Well, why not adopt some houseplants to add a touch of green to your home and improve the humidity at the same time? Plants are amazing at increasing the humidity in the house.
Just like humans, plants also breathe and this process is known as transpiration. During transpiration, plants “breathe” out moisture through the stomata of their leaves and this get released into your homes. If your homes are especially dry, the dry air acts as a suction that will “pull” the water out from the plant.
What Plants Are The Best For Humidifying?
As mentioned, transpiration happens through the stomata on the leaves and hence the best plants for humidifying the house are plants with big broad leaves. Naturally, broader leaves will have more stomata and hence more moisture release.
Some common plants with large broad leaves are;
Get them easily using the Amazon links above!
Place Vases In Sunny Places
Fill up some vases with water and place them by the windowsill in direct sunlight and enjoy the moisture that is released from evaporation from the vases. Depending on how much humidification you are targeting, you can vary the size of the vase. If you want more humidification, go for a vase with a larger neck so that the surface area is larger for the water to evaporate.
If you are not a flower person and you don’t own any vases, just a shallow dish of water by the window would work just fine too!
One thing to note when using this method is to be wary of mosquito breeding in these water bodies. Be diligent and change the water everyday!
Cook On Your Stovetop
Stuck at home during the pandemic? Bored of takeout food? Time to light those stoves and get cooking! Cooking on the stovetop releases moisture into the air naturally as food liquid boils and evaporates. Some have even gone as far as to use the stovetop as a humidifier by simmering pots of water on low heat to slow release steam into the air. Adding some flavor into the water such as lavender would also have the added effect of scenting the house!
While we can utilize the stovetop more frequently to increase humidity, we can probably give our crockpot or slow cooker a break. These usually lock in the moisture tightly under the lid and do not release any steam into the air. On the contrary, crockpots are more relevant when you need to dehumidify your home.
Boil Some Tea
Just like cooking on the stovetop, boiling water in your kettle also releases steam into the air. Therefore, when you are thinking of getting some tea for the afternoon, pour some water into a kettle and heat it up instead of putting it into the microwave.
Air Dry The Dishes
For families who own a dishwasher, it can be easy to just let the dishwasher dry the dishes and leave it inside the dishwasher. However, if time permits, you can stop your dishwasher after the rinse cycle and just place the dishes on your countertop to air dry. Easy to do and save you tons of energy too!
Take Hot Showers
Everyone loves a hot shower especially during the colder seasons. Hot showers release tons of steam into the air which can definitely help to increase the humidity in the house. You can help this by leaving the door ajar while showering to allow the steam to enter the house.
Retain Bath Water
If you are a bath person, that would work too. Try to retain your hot bath water in your tub after your bath and let it slowly evaporate. It is such a waste to just pull the drain plug and let it all flow away. Just drain it off before your next bath and you are good to go!
Dry Clothes Indoors
Instead of using the dryer, why not hang up your clothes on a clothes rack and let it air dry overnight? This allows the moisture in the clothes to evaporate and humidify the house really well. This is a great way to humidify a room naturally if you have a large amount of laundry.
Besides humidifying your home naturally and saving on a humidifier, you also save on the electrical bills from running a dryer. FYI, dryers are one of the most energy sapping appliances in the household.
Use Wet Sponges
This is another clever hack which makes use of everyday items. Sponges are great moisture absorbers relative to their size. Soak sponge with water and squeeze it a little to ensure it is not dripping wet. Thereafter just place it at places where you want to improve the humidity.
After it dries up, just pop the sponge into the microwave or oven to give it a good heat sterilization and kill all those potential mold and fungi in the sponge.
Insulate Your House
Do you have a cold drafty room in your house that you could never heat up properly. Bad news, these drafts also reduce the home humidity drastically because there is just no place for the humidity to settle down. Therefore, it is no point trying to humidify the house when you have not tackled the issue of drafts in the house yet.
For homeowners who are keen on small DIY projects, home insulation can be a short and gratifying project. For beginners you can perform some weatherstripping about your windows and also some easy caulking around leakages in the house. Once you are more comfortable, you can even seek out the cracks in the walls and work on sealing up those cracks that are letting in cold air.
Items required (You can get them really easily off Amazon using the links below!)
Watch the videos below for a step by step tutorial guide to sealing cracks and leaks.
You do not need one that is expensive and majestic. A simple decorative piece that you can get off Amazon would do the work nicely as well. Having a fountain at home also introduces the sound of running water which helps to calm your mind down. I did a quick search on Amazon and there are many great small decorative fountains that cost below $30. Just turn it on and let the water evaporate slowly.
Mist The House
This is one of the most direct ways of adding moisture into the air at home. Get a spray bottle and mist the house occasionally when you start to feel the air getting dry. If possible, get a spray bottle that can release really fine mist so that the water droplets are as small as possible. This allows them to evaporate rapidly and increase the humidity in the house easily. Having water droplets that are too large usually just ends up wetting the floor and making it really slippery.
Turn Down The Thermostat
During the colder seasons, our heaters and furnaces are put to great use and help to keep us warm and toasty. They usually accomplish this by putting out large amounts of dry heated air that can really dehydrate the surrounding. By cranking up the thermostat, we will reduce the humidity in our homes drastically. Therefore, instead of turning up the thermostat, we can layer on more clothing and snuggle together to keep warm. This reduces the need for heating and improves the humidity too. Your wallet will thank you too as you save on heating costs.
Beside our heaters and furnaces, appliances which utilizes heated air such as the hair dryer also dehydrates the air and should be used sparingly if we are hoping to increase the humidity in the house.
For those of you who are feeling adventurous or just looking to start a fun project with your kids, why not make a DIY humidifier at home? Watch the video below to see how!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Where is the best place to put a humidifier?
A: The best place to put a humidifier is in the middle of a room, 4-5 ft. away from the walls, 2 ft. off the ground in an enclosed room. For more details, do visit our comprehensive guide on the best placement of humidifier in the house.
Q: Can dry air make you sick?
Yes. Dry air can cause irritation to skin, eyes, throat and nose. It can also cause increased bacteria and viral infection due to the bacteria and virus surviving longer in dry environments.
Q: How do you know if the air in your house is too dry
- Eye irritation due to dry eyes
- Cracking and peeling skin
- Nosebleeds due to dry nasal passages
- Houseplants drying up
- Frequent shocks by static electricity
- Feel thirsty frequently due to the air air
Q: Does a fan cause dry air?
A: Fans will cause increased air circulation in the room and the moving air can remove moisture in the air causing dry air. You can mitigate this by shutting the doors or windows so that the moisture remains in the room. Alternatively, get a humidifier that can run together with the fan.
Wrapping It Up
After reading this comprehensive guide, you are now armed with all the knowledge you need to increase the indoor humidity of your home. These hacks are all actionable and do not require any specialized equipment. Some methods may be more suitable than others depending on your unique circumstances e.g. the season you are in, the climate you live in etc. Nonetheless, give these methods a try and let us know how it works for you in the comments below!