It’s that time of the year again. Your hands get clammy and the smell of mildew is in the air. It’s bad enough that it’s uncomfortably warmer, but now you’ll have to worry about damp spots and mould too! So how can you reduce indoor humidity quickly without needing to buy a specific appliance such as a dehumidifier?
How to tell if your home is too humid
Apart from the obvious inconvenience, high levels of humidity have negative effects towards your health, your sleep and your home. Additionally, mould can develop in 24-48 hours, which is why it’s important to tackle excess humidity indoors quickly.
1. Get a humidistat
The most surefire way to know if your home is too humid is to invest in an affordable humidistat to measure your indoor humidity level. Humidity levels above 70%RH are known to be optimum conditions for dust mites and mould to grow. The ideal indoor humidity is between 45 to 55%RH and should always be maintained between 40 to 60%RH.
Learn more about humidity levels.
2. Mould Spots
Check the rooms that are likely to have high humidity levels, such as your bathroom and the kitchen, for mould. Check areas such as the shower stall or bathtub, sink areas, and windowsills. Also, check the walls, ceilings, and room corners. If you see little dark spots, even mild ones, it’s a sign you have a mould problem.
If you notice the glass of your windows to have beads of water or fog on the glass it’s a sign of too much moisture in that room.
Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there’s too much humidity indoors. It’s common in winter, or when daily activities such as cooking, showering and drying clothes release warm moist air into the home. Though a bit of water may sound harmless, if condensation isn’t dealt with immediately, it can encourage mould to start growing on walls, ceilings and windows.
4. Water Run-Off
Certain homes have issues with water from the outside leaking into the home. If you notice the basement in your home has water marks or collect water after or during the rain, your basement will become very humid. If the excess humidity isn’t dealt with quickly (especially in basements where ventilation is lacking), then mould problems can develop.
5. Musty Odours
The musty smell is the result of mildew and mould growth. Mould produce gasses called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC). Even if you don’t see visible signs of mould and mildew, don’t disregard it; Mould can be hidden behind wallpaper, under carpets, or inside heating and ventilation ducts.
If you can smell it, you’re probably also inhaling mould spores. These are toxic and can cause health problems such as breathing difficulties, sinus infections, sore throats and migraine. The best way to remove the mould smell is not with air fresheners or scented candles – these will only cover up the smell and not remove the toxic air. Mould removal is the most effective method.
6. Water Damage & Stains
If you notice water damage and stains on your ceiling or walls, seek a professional to pinpoint the cause of damage. Water damage and stains are a possible sign of water leakage, which can sometimes be hard to locate.
7. Rotting Wood
When there’s excess humidity in the air, wood will retain the excess moisture and start to rot. When this happens, it will start to attract bugs such as termites.
When the air has excess humidity, it causes airborne allergens such as dust mites and mould spores to grow and spread. If you often have allergic reactions when you’re indoors, such as sneezing, runny nose, or sore eyes, it could be due to the excess humidity in the air carrying allergens around you.
How to reduce indoor humidity without a dehumidifier
The best way to reducing humidity indoors is with a dehumidifier. However, if you do not own a dehumidifier or the humidity problem is mild, these are a few hacks you can use to dehumidify your home. These methods are fairly easy and use equipment you would already have at home.
1. Ventilate your room
Keep your home ventilated, especially in areas that usually create moisture such as your kitchen and the bathroom. Open windows and doors if possible, and keep vents or fans on for longer to ensure sufficient ventilation. Having proper ventilation in your home for at least a few hours a day can greatly help to reduce indoor humidity.
2. Air conditioning
Turning on your air conditioning not only cools down the room, it will also help reduce indoor humidity especially during humid weather.
Fans are excellent at moving warm stale air around in the room. A fan will increase the air flow in the room that will remove excess moisture through evaporation.
4. Replace Furnace / AC filters
Clean your furnace and AC filters units regularly. If your furnace or AC filters are clogged, they will slow down air flow and won’t be as efficient in reducing humidity.
5. Take shorter or colder showers
Showers produce a lot of excess steam that will increase humidity indoors. The longer your shower, the more steam is produced. To reduce the excess moisture, crack a window open or leave the exhaust fan on a little longer after your shower. Alternatively, take colder showers if you can – they produce less steam and has less effect on humidity. Moreover, cold showers can be good for your health!
7. Line dry clothes outdoors
Hanging wet clothes indoors will increase indoor humidity levels, especially in rooms where ventilation is bad. The best option to reduce indoor humidity is to hang clothes to dry outdoors, especially during humid seasons. If that is not an option (such as in apartments with no balconies), then use a clothes dryer that is vented to the outdoors.
8. Crack a window open
The easiest trick to reduce indoor humidity is to crack a window open! Create more airflow by leaving the window open to dry the air out especially in damp rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen.
9. Place houseplants outside
Did you know plants release moisture vapour into the air? Temporarily place your plants outdoors. Also make sure to not over-water your plants.
10. Use your kitchen exhaust fans
Oven and stove-top cooking produce moisture in the air. While cooking, try your best to cover your food to keep steam inside and turn up the kitchen exhaust fans.
11. Replacing your rug
Rugs have a tendency to collect moisture especially when humidity levels are high indoors. If you notice your rug getting damp or smelling mouldy, send it to the dry cleaners to get cleaned.
12. Repairing your walls
Walls that have cracks or holes can also introduce moisture indoors. Warm, moist outside air can travel indoors through cracks and holes during warm, humid weather. This can cause condensation on materials indoors if they are cooler than outside air. If that condensation is not wiped up quickly, it can cause issues such as rotting wood, mould and mildew. Regularly check your home’s external walls to ensure there are no cracks and fix them properly.
13. A basket of charcoal briquettes
Charcoal briquettes can help remove humidity and even odours from the air, thanks to their adsorption properties. Buy a cheap bag of charcoal and fill it in a basket. The charcoal will last for 2-3 months. If possible, look for coconut shell charcoal. This charcoal has high adsorptive power and resists powdering in adsorption – a very important factor.
14. Rock salt
Another solution on how to reduce indoor humidity without a dehumidifier is using rock salt, a hygroscopic material. This means that it draws and stores water molecules from its surrounding environment, pulling excess moisture out of the air similar to a dehumidifier.
Take two plastic tubs of the same size. Put an object inside the first tub to elevate the second tub. Drill holes in the second tub and fill it with rock salt. Place the second tub and put it in the first tub. In a few days there will be some water in the bottom tub. Check the bottom tub daily to empty the water.
You may also use silica-based kitty litter, zeolite rocks and well as calcium chloride as substitute to rock salt.
These tips on how to reduce indoor humidity without a dehumidifier is based on a few things; keeping good airflow indoors by using proper ventilation as well as absorbing moisture in the air using clever, moisture absorbing materials.
If none of these tips work to reduce indoor humidity in your home, you may have a serious humidity issue. If that’s the case, consider investing in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers not only pull excess moisture in the air, they also protect your home from mould and bugs and can help dry laundry more efficiently indoors.