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You’ve probably heard a lot about the dangers of a room that contains too much moisture (or humidity), as well as the potential dangers to your health that come with it. However, just as too much moisture can be harmful, not enough can be equally damaging.
It’s all about creating the right balance in your home, and that’s where we come in to help you out. We’re here to show you easy and natural ways to humidify those dry rooms in your home – with just the right amount so that you don’t end up with damp air. It’s simpler than you think.
Why Humidify a Room?
One of the main reasons humidifying your room is recommended by the professionals is the fact that a lack of moisture can cause dry skin. This can worsen the symptoms of conditions like eczema, as well as allergies and asthma. By humidifying a room, you can alleviate the following
- Itchy skin
- Redness and rashes
- Dry nose
- Dry skin
- Cracked lips
- Nose bleeds
The added moisture in the room will also help your skin feel and look a lot healthier, with the potential to lessen the severity of wrinkles as well as leave it looking plumper.
This is because the skin needs to be hydrated, like the rest of our body, to be at its best. The ideal level of humidity for a healthy body is between 30% and 40%.
What is a Humidifier?
The simple definition of a humidifier is a device (usually electrical) that is used to increase the levels of humidity within a room or an entire building.
They are used when the air in a room is too dry and it requires additional moisture. There are also several types of humidifier that you can purchase, depending on your needs.
Regular Types of Humidifier
Central Humidifiers. These are built directly into the heating or air conditioning in your home. They are the most expensive form of humidifier, but also the most effective if you need to humidify an entire house as opposed to a single room. They also emit no steam, which means there is little to no risk of burns.
Evaporators. The way this works is by blowing moisture through a damp filter. It is powered by fans that work to expel the humidity into the air from the unit. They are a lot more affordable than, for example, central humidifiers but they do also run the risk of pushing too much moisture into the air.
Impeller Humidifiers. These use rotating discs that operate at high speeds, and they are quite affordable. As they create a cool mist that is spread through the room, they are also safe for those who have pets and children. However, it can be easy to overuse them and cause too much moisture, so you need to keep an eye on how long it is running for.
Steam Vaporisers. These are powered by electricity, and water is heated within them before being expelled into the air. They are the cheapest option out there, and are quite good for keeping a room humidified. Due to their inexpensive build and design, they can get quite hot and potentially burn you, so keep them out of reach.
Ultrasonic Humidifiers. Through the power of ultrasonic vibration, these dehumidifiers are able to produce a fine mist that makes its way through the room. This can be cool or warm; it depends on the model that you select. There are also several sizes available much of the time that can humidify a variety of spaces.
How Do You Know That Your Indoor Air is Dry?
This is a pretty important question, because how do you know if your home needs humidity if you can’t even tell that your air is dry? Thankfully, there is a way to determine how dry your air is so that you can determine the amount of humidity it needs.
The best way to measure humidity is with a hygrometer. Its design comes in various levels of complexity, but the simplest one is two thermometers that are attached to each other with a handle on a chain.
One of the thermometers is a standard one, and the other has a wet cloth over the tip. This is called a wet-bulb thermometer.
As water molecules evaporate from the wet bulb, they also take the heat with them. This will lower the temperature reading on the thermometer. It is the rate of evaporation that is important, because this depends on the amount of moisture and pressure in the air.
For example, at 100% humidity, the readings on both thermometers will be the same because no water will evaporate from the wet bulb.
Modern versions tend to be digital now and slightly more advanced, as well as relatively affordable. They are easy to find online, as well as most home goods stores. However, if you are feeling a little crafty or want to save some cash, you can also make one yourself.
This video from the UK Met Office shows you a really quick and easy way to get started with your own homemade hygrometer.
Why Dry Air is Your Invisible Indoor Enemy
All you really hear is the danger of damp air; having too much humidity in your home. The thing is, dry air is just as problematic and can cause aggravating symptoms, as well as trigger respiratory issues. Let’s take a closer look at why dry air should be considered your enemy.
The Problem(s) with Dry Air
In the first section, we talked about why you might want to pick up a humidifier and touched on some of the symptoms and conditions that it can trigger. So, you already know that it causes dry skin, itchy eyes, and rashes – as well as causing asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
However, there is a little more to it than that……
Dry air can also make you more susceptible to catching illnesses in general. This is especially true for the flu, which thrives in conditions with low levels of humidity.
This is also partly why the flu and other illnesses become so prevalent in the winter months – we have the heating on, which dries the air and lowers the humidity levels.
In the summer, we don’t have this issue because it’s already hot and sticky.
As the airways become dry with a lack of humidity, the nasal passages are no longer adequately lubricated. This means that when you are sleeping, you are more likely to snore (and do so loudly).
In fact, you may find that it gets rid of your snoring problem completely.
A lack of humidity also makes it feel a lot colder than it actually is, decreasing the temperature and leaving you quite chilly. Humid air feels warmer, which means you don’t need the heating on so high and may end up saving a few pennies on your bill.
Additionally, if you are working with computers you don’t want dry air because it can increase the chances of shocking components with a static charge; causing painful electric shocks. This can even apply to door handles and other metal objects in your home.
To reinforce the problem with dry air, here is a quick list with some of the issues it causes. Some of them are conditions we have already mentioned, but most of them are new:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Dry and cracked skin
- Flu and colds
- Dust mites
The best solution is to humidify your home, and work to find that balance between too dry and too damp so that you can create your ideal environment.
The benefits of humidity are things like improved health (especially in the winter months) as well as a lack of dust mites, and even a reduction in the cost of your heating bills as well as helping wood floors last longer.
How to Humidify a Room Naturally
Now you know all about the why, it’s good to look at how to humidify a room. There are three different methods below that outline some of the best methods you can use to get rid of that dry air.
Solution 1: Try and Get Rid of the Root Cause of Your Dry Air
Humidifying a room or home is a great move if your air is too dry, but it can start to feel more like a plaster over a crack than a solution if you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place.
Step One: Check Your Insulation
One of the main causes of dry air is a home that has been improperly insulated. Cracks and draughts tend to bring the cold dry air in from the outside, and this can leave it feeling quite uncomfortable.
Similarly, a poor insulation job in places like the loft and walls will leave gaps for the air to sneak in. Getting this fixed can vary in terms of price, but it’s worth it for both the health and comfort benefits. You may not even need a humidifier afterwards.
Step Two: Remember to Replace Lost Moisture
In the winter, you tend to lose a lot of moisture from the air in your home. What most people forget, however, is that the lost moisture needs to be replaced. This is a common root cause of dry air.
In winter, we like to turn the heating up and enjoy the warmth of our home, but this also takes the moisture out of the air.
Solution 2: Add Moisturising Elements
This particular method has a lot of different routes that you can take – from buying some new houseplants, to simply leaving the door open when you take a shower.
Instead of repeating myself and listing all these fantastic methods here, please take a look at the next section titled Direct Humidifying Methods.
This section goes through an extensive list of all the ways you can add a few moisturising elements to your home.
The Method: Make Your Own Homemade Humidifier
If you’re the kind of person that loves to get in there and do it themselves, making your own humidifier might be the best choice.
In this method, you will find all the tips and tricks you need in order to create your own makeshift humidifier for use in the home.
What You Will Need:
- 1 gallon/5L plastic bottle
- 1 gallon/5L distilled water
- 1 cooling fan for PC/MAC/Laptop
- Multi Volt adaptor and connector (3-volt increments)
- Mist/fog maker (2 units)
- Hot glue gun
Step One: connect the fan to the adaptor and power it up. Once you know it works, put it to the side for a moment and move onto the next step for creating your humidifier substitute.
Step Two: cut a hole in the plastic bottle so that you can insert both of the fog units. It should sit at the bottom of the bottle with the cable coming out of the hole. Using the same opening, fit the fan into the opening, ensuring that it is blowing into the bottle. Secure the fan to the opening using the hot glue gun.
Step Three: grab the distilled water. This is the best water to use because it prevents minerals from building up on the fog units so that your humidifier lasts longer. Then, fill the bottle about a third of the way up with the water. Save the rest for refills.
This can vary according to the fogger instructions, but most models perform best when they are between ¼ and 1 ¼ of an inch below water.
Step Four: remove the lid from the bottle. Plug the fog units into the mains and let them power up. As they work, you will notice the bottle fills with mist and the fan will start to spin. This will keep the air nice and moist, and can be refilled as and when you need; working as the ideal DIY bedroom humidifier, or for any room in the house.
Direct Humidifying Methods
#1 Glass of Water Near Heater. This method is not massively effective, but it does work to an extent. When you choose your bowl, it is nice to select something that is attractive so that it looks nice in the room.
You can also add some pebbles to the bottom for further aesthetics if you desire.
Once you have filled the bowl with water, place it near a radiator (or another heat source). After a few days, the bowl will be empty and need to be refilled.
This is because the heater helps the water to evaporate into the air and create more moisture. Ideally, you need several bowls per room.
#2 Houseplants for Indoor Humidity. Plants are so interesting. They can impact our homes in various ways, all depending on the type that you choose to keep.
Just as there are some plants that are amazing for dehumidifying a home, there are others that can increase the humidity. It’s a great combination of good aesthetics and having something to take care of.
Examples of Using Plants for Humidity:
- Areca Palm
- Bamboo Palm
- Rubber Plant
- Peace Lily
- English Ivy
- Spider Plant
What makes these plants so good at creating humidity? Whilst pretty much every plant adds some humidity to the room, those with larger leaves are the best at the task; which all of the above have.
This is because the large leaves allow the plant to absorb more light and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, meaning that they have an excess of water.
Plants from hot and dry climates have much smaller leaves so that they can conserve water. The best way to get the most out of your humidifying plants is to ensure there is excellent airflow around them and be careful not to overwater them.
#3 Place Plant Vases in Sunlight. Placing your plants in the sun can help the water to evaporate at a faster rate, therefore increasing the humidity in your home by a good amount. However, you do need to be careful with this method as too much direct sunlight can be harmful to your plants, and you will need to water them more frequently.
#4 Wet Clothing. A great solution for dry air is to leave some of your wet clothes to dry inside; either on radiators or indoor lines. The moisture from the clothes will evaporate into the air, causing it to become more humid.
However, you should be careful not to dry too many clothes inside as this can cause the air to become too damp and may encourage mould growth.
#5 Hot Showers. A wonderfully hot shower creates a lot of steam, misting up the bathroom and leaving us with a little sauna when we step out. It’s a great way to humidify the air in the bathroom, but if you leave the door open you can also allow the steam to travel through the rest of the house.
Of course, this method is more effective in smaller homes, but it still helps to increase the overall humidity of the home. If you have a bath, leave the water to cool completely before you drain it to make the most of that extra steam and moisture.
#6 Stove Top Cooking. Every time you cook, it produces steam. This moisture adds to the humidity of the room without the need for any appliances.
It can be a great way to improve the quality of the air and reduce the overall dryness.
Of course, too much steam can cause damage to your cabinets and create a lot of condensation, so having an extractor fan to create better balance would be ideal.
#7 Boil Water or Cook More Often. Just boiling the kettle for a cup of tea can help to increase the humidity in the room. Combine this with cooking more frequently, and you should notice an increase in the amount of moisture in the air.
Similarly, if you drain things like pasta in the sink, plug it up and allow the hot water to steam and cool there for a while; adding to the humidity around you.
#8 Turn Down the Heat. Having the heating up high can create dry air, and so turning it down will increase the amount of humidity in the room.
It’s something we don’t always think about, but even in the winter months it can be better to opt for an extra layer of clothing instead of turning the heat down can really help the air in your home, which in turn benefits your health.
#9 Keep Fish Tanks. This can be a pretty good way to raise the humidity levels in a room. If you leave the top of the tank open, some of the water will evaporate and create some moisture in the air.
It is also quite aesthetically pleasing, adding a level of charm to your home as well as allowing you to keep a pet that is easy, interesting, and beautiful.
#10 Vent Your Dryer Inside. This is a pretty quick and easy way to improve humidity in your home. All you need to do is remove the ventilation tube so that it will release the excess moisture into your home as opposed to outside.
This will give the humidity in your home a big boost, and so you should make sure you monitor the increase so that you don’t allow too much moisture in the air.
#11 Making Sponge Humidifier. It might seem odd, but it can also be very effective. All it takes is a few simple steps and you’ll have your own homemade humidifier.
Step One: Take a freezer bag with a 4.5L (1 gallon) capacity and spread it over a level surface (such as a kitchen counter).
Step Two: Take a pair of scissors or a knife, and puncture the bag. Each hold should be about one inch apart.
Step Three: Grab a sponge (like the big ones you use to wash a car) and soak it in warm water. Squeeze it gently to remove excess fluid and then slide it into the freezer bag.
Step Four: Seal the bag and then place it in a basin or bowl before setting it down in the room that needs some added humidity. Large rooms may require multiple sponges.
Step Five: Once a day, remove the sponge from the bag and place it in the microwave. Set it to high for 45 seconds in order to prevent the growth of mould and mildew on the surface of the sponge. Once done, dampen the sponge again and put it back in the bag.
#12 Spraying Water on Curtains. Quick and simple, it’s a good method to use for a small increase in humidity levels. All you need is a spray bottle full of water so that you can lightly coat the curtains.
While the results won’t be massive, you will notice a difference in humidity when you next measure it – especially if you coat them regularly.
Just remember to keep the coating light, otherwise, you run the risk of leaving your curtains perpetually damp and they may become mouldy.
#13 Using Your Candle Warmers. These can be really handy if you have some lying around. If they are electric, you just need to place a glass cup filled with water on it and allow it to evaporate.
For the candle-powered models, the same applies but you should keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t become a fire hazard. Just make sure that the warmer is turned off immediately when the glass container is empty to avoid it cracking or breaking.
Humidity Survival Kit
In order to be ready for the humidity process, here’s a quick summary of the tools you’re going to need if you want to reach optimum moisture levels:
- Cloths and towels that can be soaked and left to dry inside
- Indoor clothes rack (heated is best)
- Loads of houseplants with large leaves (see above section)
- Spray bottles filled with water to lightly mist curtains and furniture
- Bowls of water that can be left around the home
- Draught blockers for under doors
- Sealant for windows and doors with gaps for dry air
Humidify in Summer Vs. Humidify in Winter
We’ve mentioned that winter brings dry air quite a few times in this guide, and that is the season where you will definitely need a humidifier.
What about summer? While the summer air is naturally damper and brings high temperatures, there is still a need for a humidifier in some homes; those with air conditioning (AC).
The AC might feel amazing, especially when you are tackling seriously high temperatures, but it is also drying the air in your home out. This can lead to the symptoms we mentioned earlier (dry skin, itchiness, nosebleeds, etc.) as well as an increased chance of illness.
This is especially true if the AC is running for the majority of the day, and it will dry the air quickly. To resolve the problem, implementing a few of our humidifier techniques (or picking a machine up) will help keep the air nice and moist while the AC ensures you remain cool.
In the winter, it is important to keep your humidity levels balanced because of the amount of dry air that comes from the outside, but is also produced as a result of having the heating turned up.
Each of the methods we have outlined in previous sections, as well as our list of natural ideas, will help you to bring the humidity levels up to an acceptable amount.
Both seasons are equally important with regards to ensuring that your room is adequately humidified. Of course, it will not apply to everyone in the summer as there are many households without AC units.
However, we will note that if you have a lot of fans in your home, you may want to double-check the humidity levels just in case.
CAN DRY AIR MAKE YOU SICK?
Yes, dry air can make you sick. If the air is too dry, it can irritate your respiratory system – causing your throat and nasal passages to become sore, potentially causing nosebleeds. It may also trigger conditions like asthma, and even a cold or flu bug.
This is why finding a good balance for the humidity in your home is so important.
DOES OPENING A WINDOW HELP WITH DRY AIR?
No, opening a window will not help with dry air. In fact, the air that comes into the house from the outside will actually decrease the amount of humidity in the room and leave it drier than before.
This is why increased ventilation in your home can reduce condensation – the damp air leaves the room, and it is replaced with the dry outside air. So, only open a window if you are looking to get rid of the moisture instead of adding it.
WILL A BOWL OF WATER HUMIDIFY A ROOM?
In essence, yes a bowl of water will humidify a room. However, it is not the most effective way to do it. If you want to use a bowl of water, the best method would be to place it above or near a heating source (like a radiator) to increase the evaporation rate.
Again, this is not the most effective method to use.
CAN AN INDOOR FOUNTAIN HELP WITH HUMIDITY?
Yes, they can help with humidity. Having an indoor water fountain installed will increase the amount of moisture in the air in the room in question. The size of the fountain can impact the overall increase in humidity, and so you may want to keep this in mind when you select one.
IS 70% HUMIDITY TOO HIGH?
Yes, 70% humidity is far too high. Considering that anything over 55% humidity creates an excellent breeding ground for mould and mildew, something as high as 70% creates the perfect place for mould – potentially leaving you at risk of toxic black mould.
DO HUMIDIFIERS COME WITH ANY RISKS?
Yes, there are some risks with a humidifier. The most common injury that is associated with them is burning the skin. As a result, you should keep them out of reach of children and pets (unless you have a cool-mist humidifier).
Otherwise, you just have to worry about keeping them clean so that they don’t become home to harmful bacteria. They are really easy to clean, so it should only take a few moments out of your day.
CAN I USE ESSENTIAL OILS IN A HUMIDIFIER?
Yes, you can use essential oils in a humidifier. However, there are very few models out there that have been designed for this. You should only use the humidifiers that have been approved for use with essential oils or you could run the risk of damaging the machine.
Equally, those that are not approved do not release balanced amounts of oil and the aroma can become overpowering.
HOW TO HUMIDIFY A ROOM FOR BABIES
The best way to humidify a room for babies is to have a cool-mist humidifier installed. These do not heat up, and instead, release a fine film of cool moisture into the air.
Due to this, there is no risk of burns should the baby somehow find themselves close to the humidifier. It is the easiest way to do the job, as well as the best for balanced results.
HOW TO HUMIDIFY YOUR HOTEL ROOM If you want to know how to humidify your hotel room, it’s simple. Either use the towels provided or bring some with you, and soak them in the bath/shower.
Once this is done, place them on the radiators or on the edge of the bath/shower and allow the moisture to evaporate into the air. This is often better than letting the steam from your bath/shower enter the room, as it will trigger the smoke alarm in some hotels.
Hopefully, this has been able to show you why humidity (and finding the right balance) is so important in your home, as well as how to humidify a room. Dry air can be just as damaging as damp, and there are times when a little extra moisture will do your health and your skin a world of good.
Humidification methods aren’t that difficult to implement either, and whether you decide to take the natural or artificial path you are sure to find plenty of simple solutions.
What did you think of our humidity guide? Did it give you all the information you need to start making improvements, or are you still left with questions? We love hearing from you, so leave us a message in the comment section below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.