6 Ways to Humidify Your House (Without a Humidifier)

Are your clothes clingy in all the wrong ways this winter? Are allergies worse than usual? Kids taking far too much pleasure in zapping each other with a well-placed static electricity discharge? A dry house is probably to blame. During the winter months, low humidity becomes an issue in many homes, leading to these problems and others, including nosebleeds, dry skin and increased susceptibility to colds and flus.

Although humidifiers are often an easy fix, they can be costly to purchase and running them day and night can send an already high winter energy bill soaring even higher. I’m forgoing the expense of a humidifier this year as I explore other solutions.

Before investing in an expensive humidifier to resolve dry air concerns, consider these green and low-effort strategies for adding moisture to the air in your home.

Get houseplants. Transpiration is the process by which moisture evaporates from the leaves and stems of plants, adding much needed humidity to the air in your home. A dry home can be tough on houseplants as the battle for humidity wages, so be sure to keep them well watered.

Vases in sunny places. Place water-filled vases on sunny window sills. The sunshine will slowly evaporate the water, releasing moisture into the air.

Stovetop cooking. Increase your stovetop cooking to take advantage of incidental moisture release. Switching to a teakettle instead of relying on the microwave to heat your morning cup goes a long way.

Leave the door open when showering. When taking a nice, steamy shower, leaving the door open is an easy way to add a little extra moisture to the air in surrounding areas. If baths are more your bag, don’t drain the tub when you get out. Instead, wait for the water to cool first to take advantage of the residual heat to add a little humidity to the air.

Bowls of water on registers. This is probably the most effective of these humidity-boosting tips. Place metal or ceramic bowls full of water on heat registers or radiators to push humidity into the air. You may be surprised by how much water is released during cold months when the furnace is going full tilt.

Clothes drying racks. Use a rack to dry clothes at room temperature instead of tossing them in the dryer. It takes a little longer, but the moisture released into the house by drying clothes is an effective way to give the humidity in your home a much needed boost.What if you’re left high and dry on the road instead of at home? Try this on-the-go travel humidifier featured on DIY Network’s I Want That.

28 Responses

  1. very nice post brother,

  2. I use a ceramic planter on a corner table in our bedroom which holds about 2 quarts of water, has virtually eliminated excessively-dry skin [even nosebleeds in the winter] for us and seems to last a few weeks before needing to be filled again.

  3. Laura says:

    We put coffee mugs on our radiaters.

  4. Emily says:

    I use old gallon ice cream buckets on the vents; the hard water salts break right out when you flex the pail, and the gallon volume really helps, even though they still need to refilled regularly.

    Last year, I hung a towel in a 12 gallon tote half-filled with water with a fan blowing on the towel. After a few weeks of it sort of working, ish, I added an aquarium pump to wet the whole towel regularly, and added an aquarium heater to increase the amount which would evap, and that was lovely. It worked really well, but thoroughly ruined the towel, and was quite large. I was refilling about 8 gallons every day or two. If you have a vent that doesn't make a difference, you could skip the aquarium heater.

    We also have a dryer box; in the summer, we vent the dryer out of the house, but in the winter, we use a little plastic reservoir which is filled with water (to catch lints) and hooks to the vent line. Every time you run the dryer, the RH in the house jumps by 5-15%. It cost something like $5.

    I have had no luck with the vase in sunny window idea, but every window I have is full of tropical plants and cat perches, and every clear vase I have is full of aquatic plants, so not entirely clear. I find that the best plants to have in the house to humidify are those which grow best in mild and humid areas, as they have far fewer moisture-retaining adaptations; they don't need them as moisture is abundant where they live. Semi-aquatic plants are good for this as they grow in flooding areas (with the bonus that you literally cannot over-water them), but tropical and semi-tropical plants do well for this too. Succulents are a bad choice, as you can put one of those through a dehydrator for weeks with little change in actual moisture content of the leafs. Large, pliable, velvety leaves are best; waxy or shiny leaves have a moisture barrier (which makes them waxy or shiny) and surface area is your friend.

    One major perk to using plans, however, is that you CAN grow them under any standard lights (I use LEDs, but CFLs and incandescent work just as well, if you don't mind wasting electricity) which means you don't just need sunny windows, and transpiration still happens. This is really helpful if you only have a few good windows, and want to put something else in them. I grow an assortment of semi-tropical trees like avocado and mango in dark corners of the room with track lights climbing the wall to light their whole canopy. This tends to cause them to grow leaves upside-down near the lights, but I find that more fascinating that annoying, personally.

    If you have houseplants, and they do poorly with the dry air, fill their saucers with rocks (to keep the pot out of the water and prevent root rot), then fill the saucers with water; the evaporation creates a micro-climate around the plants and keeps a lot of the dry-scorch from happening. I've also found that vermiculite-heavy potting soil helps with dry houses, as the top layer of potting soil doesn't become an impenetrable rock if it happens to dry a bit too much. I frequently just put a 1-inch layer of vermiculite on the top of the soil, and this works easily just as well for already-potted plants.

  5. Lozan K. says:

    In a winter season, the peoples are facing lots of problems and the allergies are worse than usual. The use of a humidifier is the best way to control the allergies that are wonderful sharing humidify house without a humidifier but in the room humidifier is essential for everyone.

  6. Happy New Year says:

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    new year 2016 happy new year 2016

  7. nikie says:

    Love the idea of adding Downy to make it smell good! http://alphabet1.fr

  8. Janet says:

    I use a ceramic planter on a corner table in our bedroom which holds about 2 quarts of water, has virtually eliminated excessively-dry skin [even nosebleeds in the winter] for us and seems to last a few weeks before needing to be filled again. However, the bowl often seems to develop a darkish, patchy something on its walls below the water level. Could this be mold? I put only water in the bowl, no bleach or anything else, and even though it is not at all smelly or musty, am worried that this could be mold. I clean the planter very thoroughly when this happens, with boiling water and a strong cleaner. Any ideas? Thank you.

  9. Dreamplanter says:

    My house is dry in the summer from the air conditioner and we have not had any rain for a few months.

  10. new year says:

    realy nice article thanks for sharing tyhat usefull content very nice from you ..new year 2016 happy new year 2016 b

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  12. Thanks for your informations. Good ideas. Thanks, luzviminda

  13. Trish says:

    We used a tin baking dish on a heater during the winter. Discovered the hard water messed up the tin. I like the vase idea. Thanks!

  14. Stan Miller says:

    Thanks for those humidifying tips! Namibians – our Aranos sits in the far-off South-East – really NEEDS such tips but we're lucky probably never(?) to reach your humidity with our Kalahari semi-desert dryness around; our rains came late but thankfully at last.

  15. Michelle says:

    I got mold/mildew on my windowsills one winter because of the condensation that forms on windows when using a humidifier. It can damage woodwork and walls. It cleaned up easily with a commercial cleaner. After that I tried to remember to open the curtains and blinds every day to let the water evaporate and dry out. I also put a towel on the sill to absorb the water. Then I hang it up to dry in the bathroom.

  16. Martha says:

    I live in a finished basement, so vents are all on the ceiling. But since I live alone, I went to the hardware store, got some S hooks and a couple small metal pails, filled them with water (and a touch of Downy to make it smell nice when it circulates) and hung them from the vents! Direct air flow and they work great!

  17. Coni Szemis says:

    I put pretty clear bowls with stones filled with water on shelves and coffee side tables on the one side of my house that have ceiling heat ducts, and pretty bowls of water, laid on the heat register, on the other side of my home… no more died lips and skin….

    • kathie adamson says:

      thank you so much! Just before I read your review, I was about to purchase Aqua Stone humidifiers!
      Kathie Adamson

  18. princess says:

    great post thank you!! Going to get a few more plants!

  19. Jbd says:

    HEAT vent. Sorry

  20. Jbd says:

    I sometimes hang a damp towel a few inches away from the hear vent to add humidity in the winter.

  21. Luzviminda Cothran says:

    Thanks for your informations. Good ideas. Thanks, luzviminda

  22. Laurie_March says:

    THIS IS AMAZING. #thatisall


About Mick Telkamp 


A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

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