Humidity in the summer is inevitable unless you live in an arid region of the country.
The area I live in, Western North Carolina, is known as a temperate rain forest. The abundant amount of precipitation allows plants to grow here that are found no where else on earth. But that also means that same moisture will get into our homes.
Why is excess indoor humidity in house bad?
Indoor humidity in house should be between 30-50% for optimum comfort. When humidity gets into the 60-70% range, it starts to get uncomfortable. Here are some things that can happen:
- Your hair will get frizzy. Not a major concern for most, but for some, disaster! And makeup slides off.
- It will feel hotter.
- The air feels wet. Sweat doesn’t cool you off because it can’t evaporate.
- People experience sleep problems.
- Mold spores start to grow and multiply. This can be very dangerous to some people.
- Wood swells and doors stick. Prolonged moisture in the air will cause wood to start to deteriorate.
- Mildew (a form of mold) can get on fabric and ruin it. Fabric will tear and shred very easily. Stains occur from the mildew.
- Pets smell worse. Again, not life threatening, but for some it can be irritating.
- Rust and other oxidization can occur and tends to speed up in higher humidity.
- For some, deodorant ceases to work. (Check out this natural recipe for deodorant.)
This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other reasons you’ll want to keep the humidity at bay in your home. So…how do you do it?
Natural ways to deal with humidity
There are many ways to deal with humidity naturally. Here are some ideas:
- Ventilate – Ventilation will increase air flow and help to reduce humidity.
- Check for leaking pipes – Fix any leaks so there is no moisture coming in that way. This includes condensation from hot or cold water pipes. A cheap way to insulate is to get a few pool noodles used for swimming. Slice them down the long side and fit over pipes. You can curve them and cut and piece them to fit. And they’re much cheaper than pipe sleeves. Use duct tape to secure if necessary.
- Cover exposed soil in house plants – The water will evaporate if not covered, increasing humidity and causing you to need to water more often.
- Air conditioning – Set your AC to a “dry” setting to remove moisture but not cool.
- Fans – Fans will help move the air and help with evaporation.
- Replace Furnace/AC filters – If it’s clogged, it will slow down air flow.
- Run your wood stove or fire place – If it’s not too warm, this will help to dry the house.
- Take shorter showers – Long showers produce excess steam which increases humidity.
- Line dry clothes outdoors – Dryers, even those vented outside, can produce excess moisture in the home. Hanging wet clothes to dry indoors will add to humidity levels too. Dry clothes outside and they will smell better as well.
- Use a dehumidifier – You can find a really good one here. I have one that tells me what the relative humidity is, then a light flashes and it shuts off when it’s full. This water can be used to water plants. I pour it into a 5 gallon bucket and let it sit a few days. Then I make compost tea (see how to make it here) and then use it to water a few days later. If you don’t want to deal with the water you can also work it into your plumbing, but we recommend using the water.
- Make your own dehumidifier – Here’s how I did it:
How to Make a Dehumidifier
- Take one of the buckets and drill a bunch of holes in the bottom. I usually do 6-7 and make them ¼ inch or so across.
- Place the bucket with the holes inside the other bucket. Place about 5 pounds of rock salt in the top bucket.
- Place this in the basement or closet, or other area that you want to reduce moisture in. In a few days there will be some water in the bottom. Dump this out and check it every few days. You’ll eventually need to replace the rock salt, but it is usually very cheap.
What can you use besides rock salt? Try silica-based kitty litter or calcium chloride. This is often sold during the winter to melt ice. Other ways to combat humidity are to place a pie pan with kitty litter (the clay type) in a closet or under a sink. Charcoal (either briquets or lump charcoal) will work too and remove odors at the same time. And some zeolite rocks will pull moisture from the air. Some of the commercial dampness removing products are made from zeolites.
How do you deal with excess humidity your home?
What worked and what didn’t? Share your experience in the comments below.